Pastor Mike Sperou Will Have His Day in Court: Seven Women Come forward with Sexual Abuse Allegations

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Pastor Mike Sperou of North Clackamas Bible Community will get his day in court: indicted on three counts of first-degree unlawful sexual penetration of a child under the age of 12

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Mike Sperou North Clackamas Community, Church

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Last week, a much-anticipated church sex abuse story came out in the media. I’ve posted a lot of stories here – quite a few about people I do not know. This one is different for me and perhaps for some of you. A friend of our SSB community is watching “the rest of the story” unfold as his dark church and former pastor have now been exposed to the world.

Some may remember how Pastor Ken Garrett and I met. Ken’s church, Portland Grace Bible, is very similar to the name of the church that sued me (Beaverton Grace Bible Church).  I met him after news of my defamation lawsuit went viral. I’ll let Ken explain it from his private e-mail to me in May of 2012:

We found out about your situation when our church (Grace Bible Church, Portland) began receiving tons of hits on our website–accidental visits from people who were actually looking for your old church.  Also, we’ve received a nasty phone call, and a couple of nasty/scolding emails that were intended for Beaverton GBC!  Strange world! Actually got my attention, since on a very heavy traffic day, our church website gets about 8 hits!  No worries, it was fun to think for a few nanoseconds that our site was going to go viral! 🙂

I already liked this guy. The next part of the e-mail really touched my heart and has been the common thread of our relationship these past years:

The main reason I’ve written is to share with you that my wife and I were involved in an abusive “bible-based” church for 12 years. We did the whole thing: “discipleship training,” high-pressure evangelism, criticism and disdain for other “backslidden” local churches, etc. What a dark hole! What a painful exit it was for us, and our poor daughters! It was here in Portland, is still in existence, although they’ve changed their name.

Now we’re at Grace Bible Church in downtown Portland, where I’m the pastor. The main reason I wanted to write to you is to tell you that you are certainly not alone, the phenomena of abusive bible-based churches is not only real, it is largely unrecognized, and unappreciated by the church at large (just my opinion, here!). Of course, we are still, as a family, processing and healing from the whole experience, although we’ve been free for over 15 years now. I think the healing goes on until we finally see our tender-hearted Lord face to face! But, I just wanted to reach out and encourage you to hang in there, keep praying, and trusting in God. (Source)

What an encouragement Ken was to me in that e-mail while I was facing such a difficult period. Over the past couple of years, we have shared our church stories and Ken is one of two people who has taught me the most about spiritual abuse. However, Ken’s story is more than spiritual abuse, it also alleges sex abuse, including the sexual abuse of Ken’s two beloved daughters.

 

Earlier, when sex abuse allegations were reported, Oregon’s ridiculous Statute of Limitations laws interfered with this case; however, one more woman eventually came forward and the case was reopened. Thank God!  Now, a total of seven women have bravely come forward and reported to authorities.

 

The church’s name is North Clackamas Bible Community, in Clackamas, Oregon, and it’s important to understand that this “church” was not the kind of traditional church you and I think of, but was a community of church members who lived in rented homes in the same area. You can see the word community in the name of the church, North Clackamas Bible Community, but it might be more appropriate to think of “commune.” Members sold their homes to move into the community, they lived together, gave of their wages, did most activities together. Kids went to public schools, but came back “home” to the community.

Rick Bella covered this story in The Oregonian. When you read the article, you will read of classic spiritual abuse signs:  love-bombing, a charismatic leader, a manipulator, etc. But along with spiritual abuse, we read of allegations of sexual abuse:

The seven women – who ranged in age from 11 to 16 at the time of the alleged abuse – and other former church members said Sperou claims deep emotional scars from childhood traumas and the Vietnam War. They said the church, originally called the Southeast Bible Church, seemed to start with good intentions. But they said the church evolved into a cult-like organization that dissolved family bonds as Sperou sank into heavy drinking, drug use, adultery and sexual abuse of children.

You can see in the following excerpt how unhealthy this environment was for young girls:

The seven women said they felt honored if Sperou invited them to spend time with him. They could watch pay-per-view movies on his big TV and eat take-out Chinese food, pizza and ice cream. They would cozy up with him in bed, they said.

In a 1997 interview with police, Sperou acknowledged that, “girls were encouraged to spend time with him,” but said his wife or other adults were present when the girls came into his bedroom. He also told police that, “many times the girls would come down to his room to watch TV and while there would fall asleep and would subsequently end up spending the night.”

When detectives asked him whether he put his hands underneath the girls’ shirts while hugging them, Sperou told police that “he probably has” but that he “meant nothing by it.”

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Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

 

The difficult thing about reading an article like this is that some might say, “who in their right mind would allow their child to be on the bed with their pastor?” Well, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a grooming and manipulation process. It happens to children and adults. You have to think – how did Jim Jones get so many people to uproot friends, family, jobs to move overseas? How did he get them to drink the Kool Aid? These were highly educated people who were duped as well. Church or cult leaders get to these positions because they are masterful, conniving, and evil, and it’s all about them.

But eventually, something seems not quite right:

At first, none of the girls thought it was odd that they and Sperou were in pajamas or underwear, lying in his bed together. They said they were completely in the dark about sex.

But it soon became uncomfortable.

Without quoting any more excerpts from the article, I want to encourage you to read the full article (including photos), Women wait 18 years to see Portland pastor face child sex-abuse prosecution. I have to say that I have never read a better article detailing a spiritual/sexual abuse case than this one by Rick Bella of The Oregonian/Oregonlive.

The following are the names of the seven courageous women who have come forward and are not afraid of putting their names and faces in the public spotlight in the hopes that justice can be served:

Emily Bertram, 33

Shannon Clark, 28

Bryn Garrett, 30

Jennifer Olajuyin, 32

Amy Robinson, 35

Rachel Schackart, 29

Jessica Watson, 33

You can read more details about these ladies at this article (also including photos): Meet the seven women who accused pastor Mike Sperou of child sex abuse

Ken Garrett has participated here, popping in when he can, sharing his expertise with us and joining in conversations. He’s also contributed a guest post or two. Now he is seeing his own former pastor go through the court process. Please keep these folks in your thoughts and prayers. Please pray for Ken and his family, for the seven survivors who came forward, and for perhaps other survivors.

Also, keep in mind as this case has become public, not only have the seven women had to rehash in their minds their horrific experiences, but their parents, family, and other former church members are likely processing and grieving their own experiences as well. This case has likely opened up old wounds. They might be going through questions like: Why did we stay so long? Why didn’t we do anything to stop the abuse? Where was God in all of this?

I had the opportunity to meet some of these precious folks at a picnic 2 summers years ago. As we gathered, we shared some of our stories. It was a sad, yet beautiful time, knowing that we were on a journey of recovery from a very difficult church experience.

Ken, we’re thinking and praying for you all, especially as the February trial draws near.

 

 

 

photo credit: Hayley Bouchard via photopin cc

36 comments on “Pastor Mike Sperou Will Have His Day in Court: Seven Women Come forward with Sexual Abuse Allegations

  1. Ken – Praying for peace and strength as the trial comes closer.

    To all of the women – Your courage is incredible! I will be thinking of you and praying for you as the trial approaches. I know testifying may be brutal – I wish you peace and strength as you prepare.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have great sympathy for sexual abuse victims. If these charges are proven, i hope the guy gets a lengthy sentence. Sexual abuse has effects on victims that are often life-long. A woman who was a sexual-abuse victim when I was a baby prosecutor is now appearing on our docket as a criminal defendant. One cannot help but feel sympathy for her. I hope that the victims in this case have found some healing. NB, these children attended public schools, yet were still victimised.
    The bottom line is report these crimes! Here we have no statute of limitations for felonies. But if your state does, report it anyway, as other victims may come forward as in this case.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Ken, I am so sorry. My prayers are with you and your family. May justice prevail.

    I understand the commune living, to a point. My husband and I were heavily involved with a charismatic Christian group years ago. We all lived very near each other (still do, actually) and spent long hours at each others’ homes throughout the week and weekend. I remember thinking that “this must be what heaven will look like”. We had a strong community, yes, but based on seriously false teachings. After our baby died, it didn’t take long for things to begin falling apart.

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  4. Thank you so much, Julie Anne, and readers and commenters, for your support and prayers! I am humbled at the courage and backbone of these dear victims–all of whom I’ve known for most of their lives. To insist on their names being put out there…amazing! It’s starting to feel not-right to refer to them as victims, actually, as they’ve become advocates! And Rick Bella, who worked tirelessly for months on this article, believing in the girls, fact-checking every word he wrote–while at the same time coming up against the foul odor or spiritual abuse–is certainly a HUGE part of this healing process! Despite the truth, the article, the police reports, the accusations, private conversations with their daughters, and (I like to believe) their own consciences, etc., the group of North Clackamas remains (publicly) adamant that their leader is innocent of all charges, and this is merely a plot of disgruntled, ex-church-members (including, for some, their daughters) to attack them, yes, 18 years after leaving their group.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ken, this is the classic pattern we see in narcissist/leaders and their followers, isn’t it? There are still Mark Driscoll followers, Chuck O’Neal followers, defending their charismatic leader at all costs, and attacking (verbally, emotionally, spiritually, etc) those who have left or who challenge them.

    I am so, so impressed with Rick Bella’s work on this report. He gave us a real glimpse of the “crazy” that you all endured, but also helped the reader understand the whys. Just excellent!

    Here’s how you can tell your old church was unhealthy: healthy churches have no problem with members leaving. They may be sad that their friends are leaving, however, they don’t go after them maliciously, they don’t attack them, they don’t talk badly about them, they want the best for them and encourage them along the way. And guess what, they may in fact even socialize with those former members and won’t have hard feelings.

    When someone bravely leaves a high-controlling church, they have said, “you (the former church) don’t own me.” The congregants who remain realize they don’t have that freedom, It’s threatening to them and so they go in attack mode. And because this system is so corrupt, they will even act on their own to attack former members (with or without guru leader’s blessing for initiating the attack process). It’s important to look at this as a system with everybody playing a role in the system of protecting/defending high-controlling church/cult leader.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Ken, if you would be so kind, I would be very interested in knowing what kind of things might have shown up as “warning signs” that people could have taken action on. Reading the article, it appears that the rest of the congregation was either unaware that what they’d seen was dicey (were they groomed?), or they decided to close ranks around the accuser.

    Please don’t compromise the case, but if you’ve got some insights to look for, that would be wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What an amazing bunch of women to stand up to a sexual abuser. By doing so, they may ensure that other girls are not abused by this man.

    I’m so sick of the “disgruntled, ex-church-members” lingo. Ex-members of my cult had that flung at them too. Is it that cults aren’t very creative, or are they all using the same manual?

    Did you know that the mayor of San Francisco “appointed Jones as the chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission?” He rubbed elbows with all sorts of politically prominent people. Charismatic leaders con intelligent people. No one should feel stigmatized for falling prey to it. I’m glad that Ken and his family are out of there.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Jones

    Liked by 1 person

  8. To Ken and his family,
    The courage you all have to come forth and expose the lies I believe will truly heal many wounds and give others the courage to speak their truths. My prayers are with you and the families who will have life long implications from this predator, but I also know from my own experience, that as we heal, we can help others to walk through the hell of abuse. There truly is hope in the healing, and as we heal can reach out to others who are walking through the horrible reality of spiritual and/or sexual abuse.
    Love to all,
    Meaghan

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Imagine how it would be in a church that is constantly telling you that you have no value, after being put through this experience. The women’s quotes:
    “I need constant reassurance”
    “I had no self-esteem”
    “I was in therapy for a while that was aimed at self-esteem”
    and the most chilling:

    being told to “repent and be vulnerable”. “Be vulnerable to what?”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. That last one sends shivers down my spine, Keith. That is pure evil – – to wear the mask of being a godly shepherd and yet use these precious girls for his sexual pleasure for only his benefit, to distort what true repentance means, ack – – -the spiritual, emotional, and sexual harm this man has done just makes me want to scream.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Julie Anne: The language of manipulation. WWJD? Throw the abusers into the furnace like the chaff they are. Sorry to be so blunt.

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  12. JA: Since my comment was so harsh, feel free to delete or edit it. All I feel when i hear about child sexual abuse is rage. Especially if it is done under the guise of religion.

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  13. And so the latest pedo-pastor sex scandal kicks off.

    I wonder if this “Short-Eyes Sperou” pointed and chuckled righteously at all those Catholic clergy scandals…

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  14. @JulieAnne:

    That last one sends shivers down my spine, Keith. That is pure evil – – to wear the mask of being a godly shepherd and yet use these precious girls for his sexual pleasure for only his benefit…

    “The reason most Cults get started is so the Cult Leader can (1) get rich, (2) get laid, or (3) both.” — my old D&D Dungeonmaster

    Liked by 1 person

  15. @JulieAnne:

    Ken, this is the classic pattern we see in narcissist/leaders and their followers, isn’t it? There are still Mark Driscoll followers, Chuck O’Neal followers, defending their charismatic leader at all costs, and attacking (verbally, emotionally, spiritually, etc) those who have left or who challenge them.

    JulieAnne, you can still find occasional Adolf Hitler followers defending their charismatic Cult Leader. Not many of them left some 70 years down the road, but you can still find one if you turn over the right rocks.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. @Bike Bubba: Thank you for reading this post, and for a great question to me. I’ll organize my thoughts, try to boil about 800 warning signs down to a reasonable number, and get back to you!

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Agreed with HUG that you’ll find people defending all kinds of atrocities–I wonder at times how many people a guy has to kill before it becomes uncool to wear a t-shirt with that person’s likeness at American university campuses.

    And liked BTDT’s comment about Jones; yes, many people fell for him, but it’s also worth noting that Jones had a long history of paranoid delusions, drug use, sexual sin, truly bizarre religious ideas, and admiration of Mao and Stalin. Again, how many people does a guy have to kill…..?

    It kinda goes along the lines of what HUG noted he learned playing D& D. There are signs if we will heed them, and abuse of sex or money are two big indicators, along with use of intoxicants–because the leader knows in his heart what he’s doing and must self-medicate to cope with it.

    It’s sounding a lot like Paul’s instructions for qualifications of deacons and elders as well…”one woman man”, “not given to wine”, “not a lover of money”, “gentle”, and the like. It may not always be easy to spot, but these are indeed a lot of the warning signs.

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  18. Ken; thank you, and again, be wise about what you say when you write. I don’t want to let a perp go free because something got out that shouldn’t have.

    (not that you didn’t know this, but I figure it bears repeating)

    Liked by 2 people

  19. “Ken; thank you, and again, be wise about what you say when you write. I don’t want to let a perp go free because something got out that shouldn’t have.
    (not that you didn’t know this, but I figure it bears repeating)” – Bike Bubba

    The state/prosecutor has the case(s) and law enforcement has the evidence.
    Someone not involved in that process can’t “let a perp go free”.

    There are certain elements to a crime (you can read the criminal jury instructions for that crime in that state to see what they were) that the prosecutor has to prove to a jury to get a guilty verdict.

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  20. I had a long diatribe, I am not much of a Christian, I dont even consider myself much of a human being, a gift from my spiritual past. I am sorry this happened to you and yours, I am sorry, I wish I could take the pain, if it took me out it would be a good way to crossover to the real land we are all heading for. Personally I think that land is much more filled with grace than this path. I have that hope as most I have worked with have been given what I think has been a raw deal on this side of the veil that separates us, it is so thin in my line of work. It is so often breached and I see those glimpses of glory beyond as someone passes into His arms. You look into the eyes of another human being and you see the beyond and the hope. I know that may not offer any comfort, I just wanted to say I am sorry this happened to you and yours. I hope justice and reconciliation are reached here and now. If not I pray, no I know they will be on that distant shore, if not. I would have hung it up years ago and became an atheist. Even the atheists I have met online, kind all of them, told me I would make a lousy atheist, you know you got to be a total screw up when atheists tell you to stay with the faith. LOL, I cant even get that right. 🙂 But all that aside, I am sorry for what happened, it should not have and you are not to blame. God be with you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. You know Keith I had much of the same mind blank pulled on me, I am very thankful for one thing my mother raised me to be a horrible cynic and “trust” but verify and always have a way to get payback. She was a very wise woman. I got out of the industry before I was really racked but I went back because my mother, a nurse for 51 years in ICU, ER etc, and a father that saw crap a 19 year old should have never seen in WW2. You never leave wounded behind. I didnt though some of the pulling wounded out took decades. Time well spent. My father loathed organized religion, it was all total BS to him, my mother well she was a hedge fund type, she played both sides against the middle to try to make sure her kids were “initiated”. But when her youngest, thats me, started questioning going to confession because he did not believe in original sin, etc and said son was “ask to leave” his Holy Communion because he would not go to confession even though his brothers told him to just make it up. I had to much respect for the communion to do that.

    I was also watching garner Ted Armstrong at 5 am in the morning with is revelations about the anti Christ. I mean this stuff scares the hell out of and into people at the same time. Any way, I eventually reconciled with the priest, he was a recovering alcoholic and well, it was just holy. I now hold no animus and much sympathy to my catholic brothers and sisters. Funny how that works. You know I dont know why I doubt God’s grace because I experience it each day, with each breath. These men dont seem to get that, they blabber on about it alot but they dont get it, true grace is found in repentance and in admitting our faults and in seeking God’s healing. It is also found in standing tall before the man and saying no to abuse, over my dead body if need be. I hope I go out that way, it would be an honor.

    Kids are kids, they should never be abused, they are treasures, they are our future we should nurture them and rejoice in their growth and we should protect them. Funny wolves are often depicted as evil in scripture, modern research has shown that wolves are quite noble creatures, who, for the most part, protect their young, are monogamous and are very nurturing, sheep, not so much. I helped raise a child, I gave him all I had, it was right to do that, that is what blood does for blood. It really is that simple. I never quite got why these true men of God never quite got that.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Michaela; agreed that someone not in the process can’t just free the perp. However, defense lawyers can and do use the degree to which the evidence has been presented in public to argue that a fair jury is impossible, argue the prosecutor is “trying the case in the media”, and the like. See what I’m getting at? Too much evidence in the public sphere can be detrimental to an otherwise sound prosecution.

    And, to be honest, I would not be surprised if Ken gets a subpoena in this case. He did, after all, witness certain things that might be material. So let’s be careful.

    Brian, sounds like you have a story to tell. I don’t know if it ought to be us to whom the story is told, or if perhaps you’ve already told it, but make sure you get some wise counsel.

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  23. @Bike Bubba,
    I’ve worked in law for 15 years. No doubt the prosecutors have met with the victims and discussed what they should and should not say. I doubt that Ken will get a subpoena in a criminal case. There’s nothing he knows that the (adult) victims wouldn’t tell the police and the prosecutors.

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  24. I am glad this is going to trial. I wish I had had the courage to speak up against the pedophile in my home as a child. I suspect that justice was given out when he passed away a few years ago. I pray these women will fare well through this and am glad to hear that they are advocates against this evil.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Ken

    I’m so sorry your family and these ladies
    had to endure this horror and abuse.

    And now a trial, memories…

    Praying for that peace, His Peace, that passes all understanding
    For you and these courageous ladies…

    Psalm 89:14
    Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne:
    mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Here is a short version about “Warning Signs” of Spiritual Abuse.

    “Five Signs of Spiritual Abuse”

    Power, Profit, Prestige, Pleasure, Performance….

    If any one of these Signs, Doctrines, become a primary focus…
    Becoming more important than your love relationship with Jesus…
    Take heed, least any man deceive you.
    Take heed, least any man “Spiritually Abuse” you.
    ———-

    Power – It’s all about the control.

    Profit – It’s all about the money.

    Prestige – It’s all about the image.

    Pleasure – It’s all about you, the proud I, and “Church Leaders,”
    “Having More” to please yourselves. To show you’re “Blessed of God.”

    Performance – It’s all about you, and the proud I,
    “Doing More” to please, appease, God. To please, appease “Church Leaders.”
    ———-

    If any one of these Signs, Doctrines, become a primary focus…
    Becoming more important than your love relationship with Jesus…
    Take heed, least any man deceive you.
    Take heed, least any man “Spiritually Abuse” you.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. If any one of these five Signs, Doctrines, become a primary focus…
    Becoming more important than your love relationship with Jesus…
    Take heed, least any man deceive you.
    Take heed, least any man “Spiritually Abuse” you.
    ———-

    Power… It’s all about the control.
    1-Submission to spiritual authority becomes a primary focus. The leader must be in control. 2-You are taught to submit and not ask tough questions when you see something wrong. And never disagree, with God’s anointed, about scripture. 3-The abuser/leader uses manipulation, fear and guilt to gain control. Jesus asks to be your shepherd, to lead you into all truth with love and patience.

    The abuser does NOT want you asking Jesus
    To lead you, guide you, and to be your “ONE” leader.

    Who will you Follow? Who will you submit to? Jesus or man?
    ———-

    Profit… It’s all about the money.
    1-Giving to the organization becomes a primary focus. There are many messages on tithes, offerings and sacrificial giving. 2-The spiritual abuser wants the money, and will promise you great wealth if you give it to them. Material wealth becomes the sign that God is blessing you. 3-They put you into bondage using fear and guilt. If you don’t give, God can’t bless you. If you don’t tithe, God will curse you. Paul, in the N.T. says, giving is an issue of the heart. 2Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. In Deuteronomy 12:6-18, Deuteronomy 14:22-26, it says, the tithe is for you and your family. Malichi is speaking to the Levitical Priests who were robbing God and were cursed, not you.

    The abuser doesn’t want you asking Jesus
    Where you should give God’s money.

    Who will you ask where to give God’s money? Jesus or man?
    ———-

    Prestige… It’s all about the image.
    …..Prestige is an illusion. In the dictionary, Prestige, is “the power” to command …..admiration or esteem. Prestige comes from a word that means, “Illusion.”
    1-The image of the organization and it’s leaders become a primary focus. Mistakes and problems must be covered up and an “Illusion” of excellence, being right, and God honoring, must be maintained. 2-”Hierarchy” separates the brethren. Elevates the “Leaders.” Some are more special then others. It becomes a master servant relationship. Prestige by “Hierarchy” often blocks an open path of communication between brethren. In body ministry, every joint supplies. Jesus is the only head of the body the Church. In Matthew 23 KJV, Jesus said to His disciples, neither be ye called masters for “ONE” is your master, even Christ. A master rules others and has authority and control.

    Have WE, His Body, His Church, fallen into the snare of Hierarchy?

    Jesus said, You can’t serve two masters.

    Who will you look to as your master? Jesus or man?
    ———-

    Pleasure – It’s all about you, the proud I, and “Church Leaders,”
    “Having More” to please yourselves. To show you’re “Blessed of God.”
    1- A primary focus becomes you… I… enjoying life, I… being special, I… being blessed, I… being rich, I… getting what I… want. The focus is not on Jesus and what Jesus wants. At twelve years old Jesus said, “I must be about my Father’s business?”

    Are you able to say, like Jesus? “Father, NOT my will, but your will be done?”
    Are you able to say, like Jesus? “I must be about my Father’s business?”

    Who’s will, will you serve? Jesus, the Father’s business, or man?
    ———-,

    Performance – It’s all about you, and the proud I,
    “Doing More” to please, appease, God. To please, appease “Church Leaders.”
    1- A primary focus becomes, how well you and the proud I… work and sacrifice for the organization and for God. I… have to work more to please God. I… have to help more people. I… have to give more money and time to the organization. I… have to pray more and read the bible more or God is not pleased with me. And you have to perform according to the standards and traditions of The System. The focus is not on your relationship with Jesus. Jesus said, my sheep hear my voice and follow me. Why call me Lord, Lord, and don’t do the things that I say. Sheep are to hear and obey the voice of the Shepherd, Jesus.

    Matthew 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
    We, His Sheep, enter into His Rest when we cease from our own works.

    Who will you trust to build, edify, His Ekklesia, His Church? Jesus or man?
    ———-

    Father, lead me not into the temptation, and the snare of….
    Power, Profit, Prestige, Pleasure and Performance.

    Deliver me from my desire to worship these idols…
    That I might love and worship only you…
    And be your Servant.

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  28. “Power, Profit, Prestige, Pleasure, Performance….”

    How interesting that the characterologically flawed “pastors” who pursue such things preach a god who is defined by his supposed pursuit of, well, Power, Profit, Prestige, Pleasure, Performance….

    But then, how else could they claim to be God-like, er, I mean Godly?

    Good morning, again, Amos.

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  29. Oh boy, I know a couple of the families who escaped from this group years ago. I think one of the women listed is one of their daughters. I’d heard whisperings of the deep darkness of the group they came out of, but I didn’t know any details. So heartbreaking.

    How in the world does Oregon have such lousy statute of limitations laws for abuse? I’d think one of the benefits of living in such a radically blue state would be good protection for victims.

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  30. Can’t bring myself to read the article today, but at least I know where to find it now.

    GaryW said: How interesting that the characterologically flawed “pastors” who pursue such things preach a god who is defined by his supposed pursuit of, well, Power, Profit, Prestige, Pleasure, Performance….

    Reminds me of something I’ve been wrangling with my husband over, regarding glorifying God.

    I am having trouble with a book my husband is reading and being blessed by. It has “gospel” in the title, and I can’t remember the rest. I think it’s a series of meditations on the gospel. I read one meditation and had a strong negative reaction — it was about how God is glorified by the unworthiness and wretchedness of sinners. Maybe I’m mis-stating it. But the emphasis seemed to be something like we are wretched sinners, unworthy of God’s love, and because He loves us anyway we should glorify Him, or He deserves all the glory, or something. Maybe I’m misquoting, but that’s how it read to me.

    I was so upset by what I read, that I went and read through the entire book of Romans to see if it lined up. What I saw there was, before we believed, we were wretched sinners, but Christ died for us and rose again, and as believers we died with him and are raised up in new life. We are a new creation. To God all the glory.

    The part of the book I read leaves out the “new creation” part. My husband pointed to lots of passages that talk about, “therefore we should walk” in ways that reflect our salvation, and that’s just another way of saying “we are a new creation”. But I just can’t get past the repeated mention of “wretched” and “sinners”.

    He asked me if I was without sin, if I considered myself not a sinner, which I know is some sort of heresy or other. It is hard to put into words, but I think what I’d say is that I am a new creation. I am not a sinner anymore, even though, yes, I do stumble, I do sin, but I’m not a sinner.

    Does this make sense? Am I misquoting or misusing scripture? Am I reflecting some sort of heresy? I am so confused, and yet I cannot get past this visceral reaction.

    Like

  31. Refugee,

    You got it right!!!!!! In the following, check out the words “CANNOT”, “DOES NOT (it does not say “SHOULD NOT”)” and “BORN OF GOD” and “SEED”.

    1 John 3:9
    Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

    Now lets play connect the dots:

    Seed:
    Galatians 3:16
    Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

    Born of God:
    1 John 4:7
    Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

    1 John 5:1
    Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

    1 John 5:4
    For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

    1 John 5:18
    We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

    The premise behind 1 John 3:9 is that we are not under the law. To those who are under the law, sin is the transgression of the law:

    1 John 3:4
    Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

    In addition, you said:
    “He asked me if I was without sin, if I considered myself not a sinner, which I know is some sort of heresy or other. It is hard to put into words, but I think what I’d say is that I am a new creation. I am not a sinner anymore, even though, yes, I do stumble, I do sin, but I’m not a sinner.”

    And again, you are exactly right. You are NOT a sinner. You can only be charged with sin if you are under the law. You are just like every Christian that stumbles, hence Romans 7, as well as 1 John 1:8-9. Please read all of Romans 7, as it shows that we are under the law of Christ, not the law of Moses, KNOWN AS the Law of God, KNOWN AS “MOSES”.

    But here is 1 John 1:8-9
    If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    As Christians, when we stumble, we still belong to Jesus, and therefore, when we stumble, we do not lose our salvation. There is a difference between struggling with sin, and out right sinning. If we outright sin, we are under the law. The trick is to DIE DAILY, which means to live in the spirit, not the flesh.

    The law of Christ is ALSO KNOWN AS “The law of Faith”. The Law of God (The Law of Moses) is not of faith. The Commandments (PLURAL) is a singular commandment (Love thy neighbor as thyself).

    Now, in regards to your husband saying that he is the worst sinner, that is common amongst the Calvinists to claim what Paul claimed in Romans 7:24

    Romans 7:24
    O wretched man that I am!

    And

    1 Timothy 1:15
    This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

    So, whenever I hear a Calvinist state that they are the worst of sinners, I (sarcastically) agree with them, because I AM NOT A SINNER under Christ. And, neither are you.

    You got it right..

    Be YE reminded that Calvinists believe that they MUST BE “obedient” to the law, so to them, it is LAW PLUS FAITH. In other words, to them, if you LOVE JESUS, you will be “obedient” this HIS LAWS. To us, it is FAITH only. What they fail to see is that under the law of Christ, it is the Law of Freedom, the Law of Faith, and there is only one commandment under Christ, love thy neighbor as yourself. And love fulfills ALL OF the law of Moses.

    Our obedience is indeed to THE LAW, but THAT LAW is “THE LAW OF FAITH”, which is the law that the Apostle Paul states that “they establish”.

    If you read Romans 6, and ONLY READ PART OF verse 2, then it isn’t telling the whole story. When you read the rest of it, you will see that Paul asked a rhetorical question. We died with Christ, and that means that we don’t have a BODY since we now life in the spirit. Jesus is our body. We put on Christ. The Law of Moses is ONLY in effect if you are alive, and we are dead…in Christ.

    There is a lot of words and phrases that you can use to “connect the dots”.

    But, again, you got it right. But beware of what your husband is learning.

    Ed

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Yes, yes, yes, what Ed said! I would only add that it might be interesting to look up the book and author your husband is reading. Watch out for “Reformed” teaching, which is Calvinism with a pretty name. There are many churches and leaders who teach Reformed theology, and like Ed said, it boils down to legalism. Maybe you and your husband could look up Calvin and his teachings together?

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Thank you, Ed and L. Lawrence, for your answers. We came out of a hyper-calvinist church, and I suspect the church we are currently attending is calvinist-light, though I am grateful enough to have left our long-time church that it seems like a breath of fresh air by comparison. At least the elders there serve limited terms, knowing that one day in the not-distant future they will be numbered among the congregation once more, and they listen and respond to concerns with grace and thoughtfulness.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Pingback: 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 | Spiritual Sounding Board

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