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General Discussion => Any and All Topics => : doug September 12, 2008, 07:22:31 AM



: disneyland
: doug September 12, 2008, 07:22:31 AM
I got a job with Disney and I was in the tower of terror when they were doing shaft test-runs early in the morning.
I know this doens't have any thing to do with anything spiritual but I was intrigued by the experience.
Also, I go to the Disney Christian fellowship and I will be (probably) in an upcoming issue of the Calvary Chapel quartrely magazine.


: Re: disneyland
: Oscar September 12, 2008, 09:00:01 PM
Doug,

Do you know Mark Nynabor (sp)?

Tom Maddux


: Re: disneyland
: Joe Sperling September 12, 2008, 10:55:43 PM
Doug--you said below:
"Also, I go to the Disney Christian fellowship"

I heard they have a habit there of altering scripture just a bit. Here is one example:

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as Snow White; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

just kidding.  ;)


: Re: disneyland
: outdeep September 13, 2008, 01:40:24 AM
The name Disney Christian Fellowship reminds me of the 1970's when there was a popular Charismatic church by Disneyland called Melodyland.  They apparently took over an entertainment venue.  It was run by Ralph Wilkerson and had a theology school that Dr. Walter Martin taught at.  I've never been.   Apparently it was torn down in 2003 to make room for more Disney stuff.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melodyland (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melodyland)


: Re: disneyland
: doug September 16, 2008, 08:10:51 AM
melodyland is long gone. It is now the gardenwalk. Either that or a cast member parking lot. btw disney is installing a little mermaid ride and a beer garden.

Mark Neynaber. Yes I know him and have had the privilige of praying with him. btw hannah montana is having her sweet-16 b-day party next month. the tickets run at $250.

also, i saw minnie without her head.

has anyone read the tipping point?


: Re: disneyland
: doug October 19, 2008, 12:14:08 AM
I went on a backstage tour of muppets 3d. the lead engineer showed me and another guy around the inner workings of muppets. the projectors and all the electronics. it was very interesting and the complexity of the operation as well as 3d projection in general is very impressive. we'll probably go on the catwalk and see the internals of the tower of terror next. btw i am among the tiny handful of people  allowed to see this part of the park.

we get told a lot of stuff.

i'm learning how to keep secrets.

has anyone read the shack?


: Re: disneyland
: Oscar October 19, 2008, 12:29:25 AM
Doug,

I read it.  Entertaining, but not so hot in the theology department.

Tom M.


: Re: disneyland
: Margaret October 19, 2008, 04:47:45 AM
I did too. Aside from theology issues, the book has been helpful to some FAM's, mainly because the view of God's character is totally different from the Ass'y (remember Tamilla's article, "A God Unlike the Assembly god" - http://www.geftakysassembly.com/Articles/AssemblyTeachingPractice/AssemblyGod.htm (http://www.geftakysassembly.com/Articles/AssemblyTeachingPractice/AssemblyGod.htm)).


: Re: disneyland
: outdeep October 20, 2008, 06:21:09 AM
Some folks insisted that I read it and I made it half way. Frankly, I got board with it because it is so poorly written.  I really dislike the wise person/flunky conversation type of writing.

The one thing that it does present worth considering is this:  why is it that the church it not meeting the deep pain of people that when a poorly written book presenting an Aunt Jemimah God hits the scene, it so strongly meets this deep thirst in people?  Is it the church is not doing its job?  Is it that the typical Christian is like the guy on the book who nominally attends Sunday morning (with no personal spirituality and community involvement) and then blames the church for not meeting his need when a crisis hits?

By the way, when Aunt Jemimah explained that the reason that the Bible portrays God as Father is because back then they needed a father but now God is using a different metaphor because that is what you need, I wrote this insightful comment in the margin of the book:  Huh?


: Re: disneyland
: Margaret October 20, 2008, 08:13:39 AM
Well, in regard to the church question, most of the FAMs I'm in touch with aren't really connected in a church. Some attend, with great reservations and not a few triggers, but most don't. So they're not getting much new input about God from church, even if it's right there.


: Re: disneyland
: Oscar October 20, 2008, 09:10:41 PM
Folks,

Many years ago, I had to work late. It was back to school night or whatever.  For whatever reason, the family had had Colonel Sanders chicken for supper that night.

So, when I got home, I ate my share of the chicken at, say....9:00pm.  I spent most of the night getting up to puke out my guts...a result of that meal.

Then, in 1988 Betty's weird ideas about food resulted in most of the folks at the worker's convention in Colorado getting sick as dogs.  We had been fed poorly refrigerated chicken that had been brought from Illinois in camping coolers!!!  Food poisoning on steroids.   Betty, of course, said it was the "flu".  Some people had to check into motels while trying to get home just to have immediate access to a toilet.

The point???  I have not given up eating chicken.  It is a good source of protein.

The assembly experience was horrible.  Believe me, I know.  To let the bad experience of the assembly poison you against healthy Christianity is to continue the same fuzzy thinking that kept us in the assembly so long. 

God gave us our minds to think with.  If we use our emotions to do our thinking, as we did in the assembly years, we will just continue to live unprofitably and unwisely.

Tom Maddux


: Re: disneyland
: Explorer October 20, 2008, 11:13:36 PM
Hi Tom,

The point you bring up here is a really good one. However, I had the same experience years ago with tomato soup (except it was flu that was the probable cause) but I have never really got over it. I could eat the stuff, but it still does not have the appeal.

Getting back on the horse and riding it is a really good principle, but not always an easy one to follow. Probably harder for some than others, depending upon personality, their amount of involvement and Im sure lots of other factors.

So the sincere question is, what are some of the steps one might take to get over it?


: Re: disneyland
: outdeep October 21, 2008, 12:08:36 AM
When I posed the questions below, I wasn't thinking just of people burned by the Assembly.  I was talking about the average Christian in general who seems to have a pent-up dam of pain and emptiness suppressed and ignored and poorly-constructed The Shack suddenly became that relief they were looking for all their lives.  Why is that?

I think the problem is both the person and the church.  The main character in the Shack is the typical church goer who seems content to attend Sunday morning but has no community life, no buddy in their life they can share on any meaningful level, and no real spirituality beyond Sunday morning hymns.  On the other hand, the church today seems drawn towards the idea of "the bigger the better" where the large group worship and teaching is set forth as the "main thing" and meaningful relationships and community is sort of an optional add-on accessory. 

Many times I have sat in a large worship service listing to an expertly crafted, doctrinally correct sermon and left thinking.  "Ok, I believe that.  So what?  What difference does that really make?"

However, may other times, I would sit in a recovery group with folks honestly pouring out their struggles and feel strongly that God spoke though an individual giving me direction and encouragement on how to face my struggle.

I guess I am in a place in my life where I put more stock in a small group of honest, struggling Christians meeting in a musty basement over a talented worship team and dynamic preacher teaching in a beautiful auditorium.  I realize this isn't either-or.  We need both the large group and the small. I think we would do well in correcting this imbalance, however.

I think Tom is right.  The individual may have been poisoned by the chicken, but the only way to get going again is to try.  Doing nothing is not going to help.  On the other hand, I think one needs to move towards the small, safe gathering of honest folks (people who are willing to talk about their sin in present tense, not just past tense) in addition to the nice Sunday service.


: Re: disneyland
: Mark C. October 22, 2008, 05:18:25 AM
Getting back on the horse and riding it is a really good principle, but not always an easy one to follow. Probably harder for some than others, depending upon personality, their amount of involvement and Im sure lots of other factors.

So the sincere question is, what are some of the steps one might take to get over it?


  I find myself in agreement with you again Explorer (I hope this doesn't give you a bad reputation on the BB  ;)).

  Judging what others do to "get over it" based only on how "I" have handled the situation doesn't consider the complexity of the human soul---- something the NT takes great pains to teach us.

  Soldiers in war (a very intense situation), who survive and come home, can have many different responses as a result of severe emotional trauma.  During the Vietnam war era sometimes I would get picked up while hitchhiking by army guys on leave.  Some of these guys would laugh about "shooting Gooks" and not seem to be traumatized at all, and others (like when the guy I was riding with through a tunnel who freaked out at the sound of a backfire by yelling, "sniper, sniper!!!!!!"  I had to grab the wheel and pull the car over for the guy), are super sensitive and unable to control their very strong emotions.

  My point is, if you, like some of us have, wake up in a sweat after having a nightmare how are you supposed to control such feelings of emotion via the exercise of a strong will that is dedicated to thinking correctly?  It would be easy to despise such an individual as someone who allows his emotion to control him, but I think it might be, as Explorer put it, better to ask a more sincere question: where is this needy person and how can I help him?

  Re. this question of "intensity" and going to church:  -----Returning to the "bad chicken" analogy---- what if you had that bad chicken experience several times a week for two decades instead of just twice in twenty years?  Every Assm. meeting you went to had the toxic affect of making you feel guilty for not measuring up to a perfect standard, continually causing you to turn inward with a deep feeling of self loathing? 

  This kind of intensity led to suicide, depression, rejection of your faith due to failure, the loss of what was once your close intimate friends, etc.  Eating twenty years of this kind of chicken would guarantee that no matter how much you tried to train your thinking you would be unable to eat anything that even looked like chicken again!  I am constantly amazed that any former members have been able to hold onto their faith!

  I believe it's okay to choose a path that you feel comfortable with and not think that you must join up with some organized church group again.  Paul spent fourteen years alone in the desert for a season at God's direction and maybe he needed that after eating the group dinners of bad chicken that he ate as a Pharisee? ;)  God prepared him away from a group so that his contribution ended up being much more valuable than it would have otherwise.

  An answer for some may be a small group, for some immersion in theological study, or maybe getting some good individual counselling.  Changing our thinking about God is most certainly the right goal, but for a deeply wounded soul mind over matter alone may not be enough.  For such maybe it would be better to sit down in those green pastures of PS 23 and just let God's grace wash over your soul---- No meetings to go to, no religious performances, nobody evaluating my life---- just the knowledge that God loves me and has done all that needs to be done!

                                                                God Bless,  Mark C.     

   


: Re: disneyland
: outdeep October 23, 2008, 05:13:52 AM
I can't speak for others but I doubt if anyone is saying "just try again and go to a large church just like I did and get over it".  I think the point of the bad chicken analogy (as opposed to the funky chicken dance which is also bad) is that to get better, we have to do something.  You are right that that something may be attending a church or a Sunday school.  It may be a recovery group.  It may be a group of friends you trust.  It may be individual counseling. 

One may be so traumatized that they feel they want to isolate, withdrawl, and have nothing to do with groups again.  They can't bring themselves to trust a group again.  That is certainly understandable.  However, that won't change the fact that in doing so, they won't get better.  Recovery is not for those who need it but for those who want it as the AA saying goes.

My sponsor told me a saying today:  We are not responsible for the abuse that happened to us (or the resulting addiction, depression, etc.), but we are responsible for our recovery.


: Re: disneyland
: Oscar October 23, 2008, 06:01:23 AM
Hi Tom,

The point you bring up here is a really good one. However, I had the same experience years ago with tomato soup (except it was flu that was the probable cause) but I have never really got over it. I could eat the stuff, but it still does not have the appeal.

Getting back on the horse and riding it is a really good principle, but not always an easy one to follow. Probably harder for some than others, depending upon personality, their amount of involvement and Im sure lots of other factors.

So the sincere question is, what are some of the steps one might take to get over it?


Explorer,

First, let me say that I do not believe that the "get back on the horse" analogy fits what I said very well.  As a kid growing up I loved to visit my uncle Clarence in the Texas panhandle.  He had horses and he let us ride them.

If you rode Bawl, Dan, or Bob, you had a gentle, compliant mount that pretty much did what you directed it to do.  Redwing, however, was another matter.  When we rode off on Redwing, we were given directions as to where NOT to go.  You see, Redwing was a Quarter Horse stallion.  If you rode him down a country road where another stallion was pastured, you were likely to end up sitting on his back while he fought with another stallion accross a "bobwar" fence.  Not a pleasant prospect.

My point is that there are safe churches and not-so safe churches.  Getting back on the horse is what I did during my assembly years whenever they had blasted me emotionally through intimidation or humiliation or whatever else they did.

When I left the assembly I did not get back on the horse, I found a better horse.  One where there were people who wished to see me heal and grow, who would listen to me and encourage me.  

Now, what steps would I recommend to "get over it".

1. Do some reading about cult involvement in order to understand what happened to you.

2. Own your own evil  All of us who participated in the assembly were both victims and perpretrators.  Even those who were not in leadership.  What ever GG did and taught...admit that you were one of the ones who gave him money, (paid him), to be able to do it, and usually cooperated with the cruelty, controlling, and shunning that went on.  All of us were part of an abusive system that harmed people and was a shame to the name of Jesus Christ.  It is not pleasant to see ourselves this way, but only by facing ourselves and speaking the truth to ourselves can we grow and change.

3. Accept responsibility for your own actions.  I don't mean what you said or did back then.  I mean now.  If you are filled with bitterness and resentment about the past, GG is not forcing you to do that.  No one else can force you to do that.  Just because George and/or brother X, Y, or Z refuses to repent should not be allowed to be a controlling factor in your life at all!

If you have something against someone for some past action, obey the Bible and go speak to him.  Don't just gripe and moan about it to others. If he refuses to speak to you about it...put it behind you.  Either you control your response to the situation, or you will be controlled by it.

4. Recognize that we are in a spiritual war.  Satan would like to kill you.  But if he cannot get the government to shut you up or imprison you, he will attempt to make you ineffective through isolation, discouragement, or reactiveness.  A soldier that is rendered a non-combatant is no more a threat to his dark plans than a dead one.  Even better, sometimes he can use his victimes as tools to sideline others.

5. Admit your need for fellowship and do something about it.  This time, be wise.  Take your time.  Work your way into the life of the church.  Do not settle for spectator status.  Dave Sable is 100% correct, small groups are the best way to deal with deep personal issues, but they do take time and effort in order to establish sufficient trust for people to open up about deep personal issues.

6. Talk about it.  God blessed me with pastors and elders that had some spiritual stature and depth of understanding.  If the fellowship you attend does not have such men or women, move on.  You need this.  Some might need to see a trained counsellor.  This can be very helpful.  But remember, a pastor or counsellor can only help you to reach a higher degree of self understanding.  They cannot "fix" you.  You must take what you learn to heart and work at changing.

Blessngs,

Tom Maddux


: Re: disneyland
: juststarted October 23, 2008, 11:37:44 PM
Tom, you have some good points. Your point #3 is a little off. You said if you have something against someone for some past action the bible say to go spaek to them. The bible does not say that. Mat 5:23  If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, the thought isn't if you have something against someone. It's if you remember someone has something against you.


: Re: disneyland
: Explorer October 24, 2008, 12:42:47 AM
Juststarted - Actually, Tom is quite right in what he is saying: Mat 18:15  Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. It's a two way street. And it's true that we can live in the past, complain, talk about how bad it was (and it was) and how we were wronged (and we were) and all it does is hurt ourselves and others! And also, when we are in this mode we easily forget who we are, what we have done and what part we had in it all. Of course, there are scriptures that talk about this very thing. It is in all of us.

Tom - thank you for taking the time to list those things. They did not fall on deaf ears. Not easy things to hear necessarily, but I didn't ask because I expected an easy answer. I hope that Margaret will put that post somewhere so that it doesn't get lost amongst all the other posts.

What you had to say was a confirmation of what I have been thinking about lately. That is, the Lord still has a plan for our lives. Regardless of what is in the past we are responsible for those talents that we have been given to actively invest them. Yes, Thank you again. Yes, GG will have to give an account for little ones that he stumbled, but that doesn't mean that I have been condemned to ineffectiveness. On the other hand, as you said, I can move forward now with a little more caution and wisdom. If I just stay where I "fell off" all I find is that I am becoming a stagnant cynic. I sure don't want that.

Of course, when I talked about getting back on the horse, I wasn't talking about the old horse. I think someone shot that one and sent it to the glue factory.



: Re: disneyland
: Oscar October 24, 2008, 01:17:49 AM
Tom, you have some good points. Your point #3 is a little off. You said if you have something against someone for some past action the bible say to go spaek to them. The bible does not say that. Mat 5:23  If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, the thought isn't if you have something against someone. It's if you remember someone has something against you.

JS,

I was speaking about what a person can do to advance their own recovery.  Matthew 5:23 is talking about what the perpetrator needs to do, not the victim.  I was thinking of Matthew 18:15, "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you hve won your brother."  The following verses speak of what to do if he will not listen.

There seem to be a number of  former assembly members for whom the hurts and offences of their tenure in the assembly are still live issues...open wounds one could say. This is unhealthy both psychologically and spiritually.

It is spiritually unhealthy because we are COMMANDED to forgive.  Colossians 3:13 says, "...bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave, so also should you."  Failure to forgive is sin. 

But what about, one might ask, Luke 17:3?  "Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him." The next verse says to do it repeatedly, as long as he repents.  This is dealing with helping one another to have a walk worthy of Christ.  The forgiveness is an issue of fellowship, not salvation.  It does not excuse us from "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors",(Matthew 6:12).

When we were saved, Did Christ require a complete, detailed list of all offences we ever committed?  No, "Lord have mercy on me and forgive me for me evil ways" or something similar was all he required. We should forgive "just as the Lord forgave".

Failure to forgive is also psychologically harmful.  Phillipians 4:8-9 tells us what to occupy our minds with.  The assembly collapsed almost 5 years ago.  Some people left decades ago.  Yet some are still focused on old hurts and offenses.  There is a temptation to feel justified in this behavior by the perpetrator's lack of repentance.  I should make myself sick in my soul because someone else acts like a jerk?  Where is the profit in that?

Can we remember all our own sins?  Here is someone mulling over things that happened years ago, allowing them to have power in their life.  The person probably does not remember his offense at all. He or she probably hasn"t thought about you in years!   So I should make myself sick over it?   IMHO, its better to divest oneself of such things.

There are two aspects of forgiveness:  1. Theological forgiveness is an act of the will to obey God and forgive the offender.  When done in sincerity that settles the problem before God.  2. Psychological forgiveness is a process by which the mental attitude of forgiveness is formed.  After having willed to forgive our debtors, things we experience will resurface these things in our minds and feelings.  First we must allow the pain to enter our consciousness. Then we must go back to that act of will to forgive. As we do so repeatedly, it will lose its power over us.  We will be free of being controlled by the past.

Blessings,

Tom Maddux


: Re: disneyland
: Oscar October 24, 2008, 01:19:51 AM
Explorer,

Of course, when I talked about getting back on the horse, I wasn't talking about the old horse. I think someone shot that one and sent it to the glue factory.

 :rofl:

TM


: Re: disneyland
: Flora October 24, 2008, 04:26:24 AM

4. Recognize that we are in a spiritual war.  Satan would like to kill you.  But if he cannot get the government to shut you up or imprison you, he will attempt to make you ineffective through isolation, discouragement, or reactiveness.  A soldier that is rendered a non-combatant is no more a threat to his dark plans than a dead one.  Even better, sometimes he can use his victimes as tools to sideline others.



There are two aspects of forgiveness:  1. Theological forgiveness is an act of the will to obey God and forgive the offender.  When done in sincerity that settles the problem before God.  2. Psychological forgiveness is a process by which the mental attitude of forgiveness is formed.  After having willed to forgive our debtors, things we experience will resurface these things in our minds and feelings.  First we must allow the pain to enter our consciousness. Then we must go back to that act of will to forgive. As we do so repeatedly, it will lose its power over us.  We will be free of being controlled by the past.

Blessings,

Tom Maddux



Tom,

Thank you ever so much for these words in season.

For me, the issues aren't my past in the Geftakys organization, as God helped me recover from that years ago. However, life in a sin sick world can be very hurtful. Life happens. The spiritual lessons of ongoing forgiveness is something we must apply in every situation where anger and bitterness want to reside.

Also, in life, there is a strong need to be anchored in God's promises. So that in the face of discouragement and disheartenment, Satan doesn't render us ineffective. Finding our hope and encouragement in the Lord gives us the courage and inner strength to persevere and be effective against the forces of darkness.

Thank you for this reminder,

In Christ,

Flora


: Re: disneyland
: Mark C. October 24, 2008, 06:44:32 AM
Tom,

  Thanks so much for sharing those points on recovery and it has made your original post much more understandable for me.  I can agree very strongly in principle with most of them, but I think that different former members should feel the liberty to choose their course of "action." 

  What I mean by this is that we don't always know what is going on in the heart of a former member and what may seem like  an inability to "get over it,"  that we figure must be going on with that person, is not what is in reality happening.  We try to play God when we assume people, for instance, are stuck in an unforgiving hatred because they are church/meeting shy.

  12 step programs and involvement in church can be just the ticket for some, but for others quiet thought before God alone may be a better means of "action."  For some, they need a social means to restore a healthful relationship with God, but for others these people and programs become a distraction.  I realize that social interaction with believers is important and am only saying that Christian socializing may be the cart that follows the horse vs. the opposite.

  True testimony time: ;)

  When I first found God I was not in a social setting; I was all alone, though I still interacted with all my friends, this experience was the foundational moment for my faith in Christ.  It is because of this that I think I was able to retain my faith after a church setting (the Assm.) turned out to be potentially so destructive to a true knowledge of God.  I think you will find that it is true that those who had received Christ prior to the group seem to do better when they left.

  Upon leaving the Assm. I recognized that God sees me as an individual and that my service to him doesn't necessarily find it's meaning in an organizational movement.  I mentioned earlier Paul's 14 years in Arabia alone with God---- could we, if we were there then, make the judgment that Paul's isolation was the result of some kind of lack of action on his part?   

  What has been the most helpful for me (and I emphasize "me"), has been my own private contemplation of God's word----  I compare what I previously have been taught with my new understanding and try to express that difference with the unique picture that unfolds from this process.

  I think Paul in his 14 years alone with God might have been doing the same thing (no, I am not claiming apostleship  ;)) as he compared his former bad religion with the new and very different Gospel he now knew.  This is why Paul's letters allow us to see such sharp distinctions between the subtleties of living by grace vs. a religious system that might sound orthodox to those who have not lived in both of these worlds (The book of Gal. is a great example of this for Paul starts with calling out Peter for being a bad example and continues on making a big deal about the subtle distinctions between the true and false gospels).

  The Christian church needs critical thinkers who are willing to challenge the status quo instead of just silently going along for the ride.  This takes a character of soul (like Paul) that may appear to be individualistic, willing to speak out passionately, and one who probably would be viewed as a big pain in the neck for church leaders trying to push the program forward  ;)!

  Yes, we all know the dangers of some individual thinking they're Paul and believing their contribution is more important than it is, but this doesn't mean that former members who believe God has provided valuable instruction from their past experience can't provide an important ministry.  The only way, as you stated, is to take our knowledge and make it our own individual experience.  I think that for some they must heal first by the development of a strong individual character with a belief system that they have made their very own----- not as a result of going along with the crowd.

   Voices in the wilderness have always been important to God's working in the world and it may just be that God is working in some of these former members in a way that is very different from what we think should be God's program for them. 

   It is the "truth of the Gospel," and how that works in the soul of an individual, that is the only way to spiritual recovery (I recognize there are psychological issues too that may need other kinds of help).   This is first and foremost an individual experience and God's plan of action for that one is a very special and unique one.  If we hunger to know that God will lead us, but if it leads someone in a different way then we expect, we do well to not cast aspersions on that person.

                                                                God Bless,  Mark C.   

 


: Re: disneyland
: Explorer October 24, 2008, 09:04:27 PM
Mark,

I don't see anywhere in Tom's post where he is saying that we should judge former member's because of their present reaction to what happened to them. I don't think anyone is saying that everyone's reaction will be the same, and that we had better get with the program right now.

Also, I don't see anything wrong with what he has stated, and I don't think that is what you are saying. Otherwise we would be saying:

1. Don't read about cult involvement in order to understand what happened to you.
2. There's no reason to own your own evil.
3. You shouldn't have to accept responsibility for your own actions.
4. We aren't really  in a spiritual war.
5. You don't really need fellowship so don't worry about it.
6. Don't ever talk about it. 

Now I know that's not what you're saying, but why is there a need for a rebuttal?


: Re: disneyland
: Mark C. October 24, 2008, 11:01:39 PM
Hi Explorer!

  As I said, I do agree in principle with the very excellent points that Tom has raised.  I was not posting by way of making a rebuttal, but trying to clarify the issue of "we must take action."  Tom has a lot of wisdom to share and I appreciate greatly his contribution to the BB.

  It shouldn't be a bad thing to banter back and forth on a given topic if the spirit of the discussion is trying to make things clearer in our thinking.

  Here is a good example:  Tom was talking about the issue of forgiveness.  It would appear from what he said that the bible is pretty cut-and-dried on the subject.  However, this topic is worth delving into a little deeper than the few statements he made (something I'm sure he would agree with).

 Now, if I bring into the discussion some other relevant verses and situations that broaden the scope this doesn't necessarily mean I'm disagreeing with him; what I'm trying to do is find clarity for myself, and possibly for other readers as well.

  There is another angle for my trying to clarify certain words and phrases and that is I am aware that some of these things we talk about have been used in a way that is wrong and harmful.  I know well that Tom's use of the word "forgiveness" has nothing to do with how this word has been abused, but other readers may not know this and get the wrong impression.  By bringing up the false uses I am not saying that Tom's post is supporting such notions.

  I'm not trying to be obnoxious and apologize if I have hurt anyone's feelings.  I am somewhat argumentative in my style, and I think that is a result of reading so much theology that tends to be written in that manner.  I am challenging the thinking as a means of finding understanding vs. attacking the person who is making the argument. 

   I hope Tom knows that I love and appreciate him greatly and that I have deep feelings for all my former Assm. members.  I do so even for those for whom we may share some strong differences, but I think we can disagree and still remain friends.

                                                          God Bless, Mark C.
                                                                         


: Re: disneyland
: Joe Sperling October 25, 2008, 01:36:07 AM
Since the thread title is Disneyland, I would describe my journey into the
Assembly like this:  I thought I was getting on Peter Pan, but wound
up on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.


: Re: disneyland
: Oscar October 25, 2008, 03:11:23 AM
Mark,

What I mean by this is that we don't always know what is going on in the heart of a former member and what may seem like  an inability to "get over it,"  that we figure must be going on with that person, is not what is in reality happening.  We try to play God when we assume people, for instance, are stuck in an unforgiving hatred because they are church/meeting shy.

  12 step programs and involvement in church can be just the ticket for some, but for others quiet thought before God alone may be a better means of "action."  For some, they need a social means to restore a healthful relationship with God, but for others these people and programs become a distraction.  I realize that social interaction with believers is important and am only saying that Christian socializing may be the cart that follows the horse vs. the opposite.

I am aware that there are a number of reasons why people may not wish to re-involve themselves in a Christian fellowship after their assembly or other painful experience.  The question I would ask is, "how long should it take?"

The assembly collapsed 5 years ago. If a person is still, for whatever reason, avoiding active participation in the body of Christ, something is wrong.  When people are hurt, they tend to retreat to their comfort/safety zones. Especially introverts.  We need time for thought and mental recharging.  But how much time?  Years?  Decades?

Mark, Christianity is not an individual sport.  There is nothing about "lone wolf" Christianity in the Bible.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Rather, we are admonished to be involved.  A few examples:

1. "...let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another...", (Hebrews 10:24).These verses are addressed to people who have had traumatic experiences of persecution.  (Heb 10:32-34)  They are exhorted to endurance, not withdrawal.

2. "Now, there are many members, but one body.  And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you"..., (I Cor. 12:20-21).

3. "But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love, (Ephesians 4:15-16).

What has been the most helpful for me (and I emphasize "me"), has been my own private contemplation of God's word----  I compare what I previously have been taught with my new understanding and try to express that difference with the unique picture that unfolds from this process.

  I think Paul in his 14 years alone with God might have been doing the same thing

Mark, I do not doubt that you are correct in that your reading is profitable.  However, this should not be allowed to set aside clear Scriptual instructions.  The apostles founded Churches and involved their converts in them. 

Regarding Paul's "14 years alone with God", I think you would profit by taking a look at Galatians 1:11-24. Paul is defending the genuineness of his apostolic commission.  He was called and instructed by God.  But he does not tell us how long it took.  He says, (v.17), "nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia and returned once more to Damascus."

He does not say he went alone, nor does he tell us how long he spent.  Arabia, in the Bible, can mean the desert area east of Damascus.  What we do know is that he went to Arabia and returned.  I do not doubt that he spent some time in solitude.  Three years after this trip he went up to Jerusalem, then fourteen years after that he went there again for the conference of Acts 15. 

I do not see any similarity with the situation we are discussing at all.  He wasn't retreating from a soul bruising experience here.  In fact in 2 Corinthians he tells us of repeated horrendous experiences; beatings, stonings, being robbed, hunger and thirst, betrayal, danger from false brethren, shipwreck, and more.  Yet at no time did he just go off and lick his wounds emotionally, or become filled with anger or bitterness at those who had wounded him.

The Christian church needs critical thinkers who are willing to challenge the status quo instead of just silently going along for the ride.  This takes a character of soul (like Paul) that may appear to be individualistic, willing to speak out passionately, and one who probably would be viewed as a big pain in the neck for church leaders trying to push the program forward

I agree. But can you name me one significant example of this sort of person who simply disengaged from active fellowship with other believers, and then made a difference?  The one who was a "voice crying in the wilderness" in the NT had many disciples, baptized people, and preached to multitudes.  No hermit there.

Mark, I know that a person can say, "I feel that God is leading me to...".  (I once knew a Campus Crusade worker who "felt led" to have sex with her unsaved boyfriend to "show him love").  Folks who advocate mystical guidence of this sort usually have a principle that would have avoided this disaster.  They say, "The Holy Spirit will not lead you contrary to God's word".  I agree.  God's word encourages us to active participation, both as servants and served, in the body of Christ.

Blessings,

Tom Maddux






: Re: disneyland
: outdeep October 25, 2008, 09:56:12 PM
Tom,

Can you post the phone number of the Campus Crusade worker for single men who still feel unloved by God after their Assembly experience?



: Re: disneyland
: Oscar October 26, 2008, 02:01:14 AM
Tom,

Can you post the phone number of the Campus Crusade worker for single men who still feel unloved by God after their Assembly experience?



Dave,

Somehow...I just don't feel led to do that. 

 ::)

Tom


: Re: disneyland
: Mark C. October 26, 2008, 10:36:46 PM
Hi Tom!

 You asked, "Why should it take so long?"  It would take a large book to fully explain why different individuals have a harder time than others, and I previously have made some suggestions.  For some it may be as simple as you described it when you say there are those who are afraid to "leave their comfort zone", but in making a blanket statement like this we risk not understanding some important issues.

  I think that at the center of the issue of former cult/abusive church members and their relationship to group involvement is the recovery of their individual identities as a believer apart from a group---- even if it's in a good and healthy Christian group. 

  You stated that Christianity is a "group sport", and quoted some verses supporting this.  There is no denying that the NT teaches group involvement as the norm.  There is one major qualification to the "group sport" verses' and that is one must first have an individual and personal relationship with Christ before church involvement has any real value.

  Of course, you could say that as long as a person is regenerated they meet the necessary criteria, but for a former Assm. member there may have been some very deep damage to that individual relationship with God that needs to be repaired first.  And as I stated in the previous post the recovery of a strong faith in God that I own apart from a group identity, not only makes me a better individual, I will have greater value to the world around me as a result.

  It is beyond the scope of one post to present a bible study re. the character of church involvement in the NT.  There is the one vs. in Heb. that commands "to not forsake our own assembling, etc."  This was necessary as individuals did not have bibles and had to come together to "hear the word of God."  Aside from mail a person had to gather with others for mutual support.  There is a lot more that could be said on this, but suffice it to say the NT emphasizes personal faith in God as the only means to become a Christian and the evident fruit of that experience is not exclusive to church involvement.

  Churches were "mixed multitudes" (and still are) in that membership, involvement in group activities(even very positive works) by themselves are nothing without individual possession of salvation.  We are all familiar with the very many who "go to church" and do so with their belief that this will bring God's approval.  This was just the kind of backwards thinking (rewards for group fidelity vs. a strong individual faith in God) that groups like the Assm. promoted and from which a former member needs to repair.

  Whatever time Paul actually spent alone with God (3 or 14 years?) you are right that Gal. does not exactly tell us.  However, from the independent spirit (from men) and his very strong teaching re. the refusal of allowing any men (be they Church leaders or whatever) to dominate an individual believer's faith it is clear Paul strongly supported the freedom of an individual to "obey God rather than men".

  The Spirit led Philip out alone to meet the Ethiopian Eunich and also dispersed the entire church at Jerusalem, "scattering believers everywhere."  Why?  It is not the church that is the essential power of God in the world---- It is the truth of the Gospel experienced by an individual that has the abiding force to accomplish God's will. To the degree that the Gospel is strongly embraced by separate individuals in any church will it accomplish what is effective.

  It is a very natural tendency for even good Christian groups to not understand these things and get into a group loyalty, program centered, busy for the Lord, etc. kind of culture that is not focused on "building up" strong individuals---- which is the whole purpose of the ministry to the believer---- that can excercise their own gift and calling before God.

  Harold Bussell (a mentor of Dr. Ronald Enroth) wrote a book, "Unholy Devotion" (1983 Zondervan) where he discussed different church dynamics.  Without going into the details of the book he explains how easy and typical it is for groups to get away from building up individual believers into a group centered way of operating.

  Many, many former members can attest to how they can now easily see these negative group dynamics at work when they visit a church (of course, not as intense as the Assm.).  I would say most former members (who still identify themselves as believers) try to get back into a church.  While still trying to recover from a seriously damaged self image as a valued child of God if one is faced with trying to ignore the same kind of negative social pressures that were in the group it can abort the good work of recovery.

  At the end of the day the most important thing is to help the individual struggling with this.  Putting a biblical gun to their head and telling them "get over it" because the bible says go to church will have little success.  Using guilt and shame as a means to "help" people subdue their negative emotions will only drive them further away from resolution of these issues.

                                                                         God Bless,  Mark C.     


: Re: disneyland
: Margaret October 27, 2008, 04:52:06 AM
Mark hints at one aspect of what might be "wrong" in his statement -
...for a former Assm. member there may have been some very deep damage to that individual relationship with God that needs to be repaired first.
Cult experts Jeff VanVonderen, and Dale and Juanita Ryan  in their new book Soul Repair call it "a distorted image of God." This has been a big factor with FAM's I've been in touch with (as well as other folks who have experienced spiritual abuse). It's a big problem. It's a trust issue. The god-who-looks-like-GG is imprinted all over the sources that should help - he pops out of the Bible, the hymns, prayer, Christian ways of speaking, meetings of Christians, etc. etc. Getting him trussed up and stashed in a corner so you feel safe enough to look around for the real God takes awhile, especially if you got into the Ass'y as a young believer, or had experienced severe trauma from adults as a child. Having been in an entirely different position myself (raised in a Christian home), I am in awe of those who at five years out are actually starting to dip their toes in Christian waters again.


: Re: disneyland
: Joe Sperling October 29, 2008, 12:34:46 AM
Margaret--

Good point.  There are many variables involved.  People go to church for a myriad of reasons.  There are even those who seek to "obey" God's command to assemble, that don't even know the Lord! Though the Bible does not call for "lone ranger Christians", everyone heals at their own speed, and no one should put a "time limit" on anyone as far as healing is concerned.  It's very possible for a severely damaged soul to be attending church, Bible studies, etc. and still be completely out of relationship with the Lord.  Once someone has regained the correct concept of God, and not the legally warped image they held for so long, then they are able to be a blessing to others, and to be blessed
themselves.

On the other hand, I do see what Tom is saying as far as perpetually being a victim. I remember a movie called "Sleeper" with Woody Allen.  He awakes after being frozen for 200 years. At one point in the movie he says to a doctor in an aggravated tone:  "I've been asleep for 200 years!!!?? I've missed out on SO much!  In fact, I would have almost been done with therapy by now!!"   Of course, his joke is that "therapy" with a lot of people who visit psychiatists is something they do their whole life,(or as he jokes, needing two life-times to accomplish   ;D) never coming to a place where they are "better".

But everyone's experience is different. I have to agree that one's relationship with the Lord, and regaining the CORRECT and REAL concept of God is the main part of the healing process when one has once been involved with a legalistic church such as the Assembly was. Many people in churches have never had an experience such as the deluded ex-legalistic church member has, so it is very hard for them to grasp the trauma, or to really help in the healing process. It is really something each individual has to come to terms with, and the Lord has his own time-table also for healing each of his wounded sheep. Praise God that he loves us so very, very much, and is so extremely longsuffering with each and every one of his children!  :)


: Re: disneyland
: Oscar October 30, 2008, 05:09:10 AM
Mark,

You said:
Of course, you could say that as long as a person is regenerated they meet the necessary criteria, but for a former Assm. member there may have been some very deep damage to that individual relationship with God that needs to be repaired first.

I agree.  The question is how to do so.

First of all, let me say that I have not yet fully recovered from my assembly experience myself. I still have some mild PTSD in which certain circumstances can set off my fight/flight response and arouse quite a bit of angry emotions.  I have to be careful not to respond to people in this way, especially when they do not have a clue what they have caused.  I also carry around some alarm bells in my mind: A false teaching alarm, a mystical superiority alarm, and a legalism alarm.  Once burned, twice shy.

In fact, Monday night I was at a class with a bunch of pastors from the E. Free churches.  They were discussing how a church finds "the mind of Christ".  I gave them quite a bit of grief aimed at helping them to clarify, in their own minds, that this does NOT mean a process of unmediated mystical experience.  They were able to clarify that they were speaking of Biblical exegesis and systematized theology arrived at prayerfully and humbly.

That said, there are some important things to see about "recovery":

1. The first thing is that the analogy of being "wounded" and "healing" are applicable only in a very general way.  If my body is wounded my physical injuries set off a physiological process by which the body heals itself over time.  We can make certain interventions to avoid infection, set bones, sew up cuts and such, but finally and fundamentally the body heals itself, quite apart from our consciousness.

2. Damage to our souls is quite different.  We receive bad information and/or treatment from outside of ourselves.  We internalize it into our minds and emotions.  This establishes, over time, a strong mind-body linkage. When we percieve something similar to the initial trauma, we react emotionally according to the linkage already established.  This produces very strong emotions and actual body feelings that we do not like at all.  we can feel sick, have sinking fellings in our abdomens, panic attacks, feel week, angry, resentful, whatever.  So we begin to avoid things that trigger these experiences.  So, trauma and habituated responses are better terms to describe this experience than 'wounded". 

Time does not heal this type of injury!  The damage is always there, lurking under our conscousness and ready to emerge whenver we percieve a situation similar to that which traumatized us before.

I believe that this is one of the "strongholds" that need to be cast down by the use of our spiritual weapons.

3. Three of our most important spiritual weapons are Truth, Faith, and Obedience.

The enemy, the Father of Lies, teaches us his lies.  I believe that the Overcomer Teaching was one of them.  But there are lots more.  Take Busell's book for example.  The truth is that negative church dynamics are a very real danger.  They have existed since the founding of the church and can be seen in scripture.  Corinth and the church Diotrophes ruled over come to mind.  The lie is that we should therefore avoid gathering with other Christians. 

The corrective to lies, is Truth.  I cannot think of a better place to get well rounded Bible teaching than in a local church.  There, one can ask questions of the teacher if one needs to, and enter into deeper discusiion of the point as well.  This cannot, by itself, eliminate the problem though.

The corrective to fear and anxiety is Faith.  When the false belief re-emerges, which it will, one must exercise the will to reject it and focus the mind on the truth.  This is a way of "excercising yourself unto righteousness", and is profitable.  By doing this whenever the particular emotional response arises, one can re-habituate the emotional reaction.  Over time, this lessens its power to control you.

Then one can practice Obedience.  Obedience arises from the desire to love, submit to, and walk in step with the Good Shepherd.  The more one walks this way, the more liberated one becomes.

If we understand idolatry to be, "anything that takes the place of God in your life" we need to realize that our trauma can become an idol as well as anything else.  If it stands between an individual and being a joyful, serving Christian...its got to go.

Having said this, I fully recognize that it can be very difficult...especially if the person does not clearly understand what has happened to them and is troubling them.  That is where counselling and or therapy can be helpful.  Skilled, godly counsellors can help a person to understand both the trauma and its effects.  Many, many troubled souls have been helped this way.  Believe me, I know.

When a person gains understanding of what has happened, Truth has now entered the mind.  The individual has to impliment it him/herself though.  A counsellor can encourage and cheer us on, but we must become active and do the living out of the truth.

Blessings,

Tom Maddux





: Re: disneyland
: Mark C. November 01, 2008, 09:18:40 PM
 Tom,

  Thanks for the honest and clear presentation of your thoughts.  Each paragraph deserves a serious consideration and response and please understand that what I am going to say is not meant to be combative and isn't meant to suggest that I'm involved in a rebuttal.  My comments come from an earnest desire to make these things clear in my own thinking and cover some of what I believe are common misconceptions when talking about this topic.

  Sometimes I think we can confuse a strong determination toward taking action by seeing it as an all-powerful "exercise" of our faith that has power, in and of itself, to subdue sin.  While we most certainly must deal with our bad habits, using the force of our will to control our entire inner life is another thing.  Even if I get help in identifying what is causing me inner strife a resolute action of the human will is very limited and should not be identified as being equal to faith in God.

  We all remember GG's teaching on "Reckoning Faith" from Rom. 6 where we were to "take sides against ourselves" and by "the exercise of faith" cause the Spirit to work sanctification in our lives.  By different disciplines of "active faith" we could press the right buttons that would bring "the victory".  We also remember how this teaching produced a very hypocritical religious life in one, or a feeling of total futility in another.  In my opinion, the reason for this was it was based on the human will instead of God's grace.

  By definition, faith in God is trust based outside of myself--- in God's strong determination (not my own).  While Rom.6 does direct us to take actions against sinful behaviors on the basis of God's work of redemption we must put such teaching in the context of Rom.7 (and the rest of the NT).  Here we see the severe limitations of even a regenerated human to will their way to victory.

  I can and must take action to control sinful behaviors as a believer, but healing a soul damaged by spiritual abuse must include more than a kind of spiritual version of behaviorism---- where I treat the kinds of emotional damage we're talking about as just bad habits.  God himself must enter the equation somewhere and this is the kind of foundational work that I'm talking about when a former member is having troubling adjusting to his post Assm. life.

   Our understanding of faith can become kinda-like a faith healing meeting where, "if you have enough faith come forward and get your healing."  The idea is that faith is an action, (any action; just get moving and come forward) without which "faith" God will look down with disdain over our inability to claim our inheritance and displace the powers of darkness  in our lives (I realize that Tom is not suggesting such a thing).

   While I need to take action against bad habitual behaviors (smoking, swearing, etc.) what if as a former member I'm having nightmares from former abusive experiences in the group that still haunt me?  I talk to a pastor about this and he tells me, "you need to move on and forget those things that are passed.  Exercise your faith in the biblical promises and don't let your heart be troubled."

  When this doesn't help me it could lead to my thinking that "here we go again; I'm just unable to claim the victory in my life.  I guess I must be defective in some way."  The reason for this is that the advice to this person always seems to revert to "my faith vs. my problem", which is really my human will vs. my problem.

  For an individual with these kinds of feelings of futility trying to use the "try harder" argument or the "Don't give into the enemy" version of motivation will only drive them further away from social contact with other believers.  As I learn that faith is not dependant on my level/exercise of "spiritual" activity, but instead on God's attitude and actions toward me it will free me from the cycle of defeatism that keeps me from involvement with others.

  While a recovery based on my ability to actualize and control my soul is logical and provides help against certain behaviors it is limited.  In prescribing solutions that force a former member to "get off their duff and get back into church--- my goodness you've been struggling with this for years!," we miss the opportunity to really minister grace to a former member stuck in a kind of spiritually depressed state.

  Sometimes God deals with our spiritual lives when we are alone (Joseph, Moses, Abraham, Paul, etc.).  We run the risk of interfering with a very special, individual, and intimate private relationship God wants to have with His children when we try to dominate their faith by demanding their subjection to our views re. how long it should take for them to return to a church, etc.  (as in: "Lord what should this man do?"-- and the Lord answered, "what is that to you?"----).  

  It almost seems counter intuitive, but by supporting a former member's freedom and dignity as an individual child of God we are doing more to bring them closer to an effective life for God than by supplying them with "ought-to's and the like---- "Who are you to judge someone else's servant?  To his own master he stands or falls.  And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand." (RM. 14:4)  This "judging" has to with the inner workings of the relationship between an individual believer and God.  Again, we must acknowledge that there are boundaries here that we should not cross by offering negative criticisms of former members motives for why they are not going to church or taking other actions we deem necessary.

                                                                                              God Bless,  Mark C.

  

    



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