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Oscar
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« Reply #15 on: 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
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juststarted
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« Reply #16 on: 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.
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Explorer
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« Reply #17 on: 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.

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Oscar
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« Reply #18 on: 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
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Oscar
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« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2008, 01:19:51 am »

Explorer,

Quote
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
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Flora
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« Reply #20 on: 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
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Mark C.
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« Reply #21 on: 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: Wink

  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  Wink) 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  Wink!

  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.   

 
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Explorer
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« Reply #22 on: 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?
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Mark C.
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« Reply #23 on: 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.
                                                                         
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Joe Sperling
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« Reply #24 on: 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.
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Oscar
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« Reply #25 on: October 25, 2008, 03:11:23 am »

Mark,

Quote
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).

Quote
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.

Quote
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




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outdeep
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« Reply #26 on: 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?

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Oscar
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« Reply #27 on: 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. 

 Roll Eyes

Tom
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Mark C.
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« Reply #28 on: 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.     
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Margaret
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« Reply #29 on: October 27, 2008, 04:52:06 am »

Mark hints at one aspect of what might be "wrong" in his statement -
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...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.
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