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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: seekingsusan ()
Date: April 08, 2011 09:54PM

Covlass:

so I guess my love of slingbacks makes me a "femme" ?... :D

susie:

As the scriptures state clearly:

"A new commandment I give unto you, That you continue to seek deep experiences of my presence and above all put your faith in what you feel to the exclusion of everything else."

"By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you continually lay hands on one another, speaking in tongues at all times while seeking the deep feeling of my presence and the inner witness of my holy spirit"

Finally no-one put it better than saint Paul:

"If I speak in tongues of men and angels but have not continually felt visceral experiences of his presence, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."

But seriously, since when have personal spiritual experiences have ever been considered a guarantee that any of us, here or in the past, are truly in His will ? .

Catholic mystics have them, heretics of all persuasions have them, sufis have them, I've even encountered buddhists here in the UK who claim a feeling of "God's presence" when they meditate ( and dont for one minute believe the common misconception that buddhists dont - or aren't supposed to - believe in God - some do, some dont ).

One thing you can be sure of in my experience though - that is that wherever you find christians who have become addicts to spiritual experiences, there you will also find those most likely to put their trust and faith in human leaders above all else.

Soon too you find that the Bible is simply not enough for their daily readings, some other book or devotional literature also becomes an equal - or ( although it will never be admitted ) even greater true authority in their lives.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/08/2011 09:58PM by seekingsusan.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: April 09, 2011 06:45AM

I have actually experienced the same sense of God's presence and the anointing of the Holy Spirit in other Christian meetings outwith Struthers. I have experienced deep and meanigful worship and singing outwith SMC. I have met other Christians who worship and sing just as strongly and sincerely and who feel the presence of God. I have prayed with other Christians just as deeply as in SMC, with or without the use of the gift of tongues. God is God and He isn't confined to SMC alone, as we now know for sure.
And, yes, I also agree that the Christian walk isn't all about experiences and feelings, which can be deceptive and linked to emotion.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: lovealways ()
Date: April 09, 2011 02:37PM

Was thinking... Why is it that SMC sing a song over and over and over again? I have heard that it brings God's presence nearer. Is there any other reason? Has it to do with one's emotions? Yes God gave us emotions, but can they be abused? If so, is that what holds people there and not want to leave? There a saying if someone is abused they often go back to the abuser. Would this be the case here? And why is it they are very particular with the music they choose? I know this may sound song very logical but where did it begin? And why? Thoughts anyone?

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: susie ()
Date: April 09, 2011 06:20PM

Hi Rensil

you must excuse my not knowing about other churches as I haven't been out of Smc that long. SMC was the first church I was ever in. When I came there I had already had been saved and baptised in the Holy Spirit at home alone, also reading my bible on a daily basis.
I had already knew the presence of God in my life. What drew me in to SMC was the same presence of GOD, but in a deeper way. This presence of God seems to hold people there and you never seem to get past that, you believe as I did if the presence of God is so deep then the leaders must be right. I fought with this idea for 10 years and finally coudn't take the abuse anymore. I felt for a long time I had let God down I had failed him. I often wondered why he saved me in the first place, if this was what was going to happen. I am still asking the question all the answers I have heard so far have not satisfied me, however thank you for your post. I knew a woman who had been a spiritualist before she became born again. She told me that leaving the occult was easier than leaving SMC.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: CovLass ()
Date: April 09, 2011 09:14PM

Hi Susie

As youve probably read, my experience with Struthers church was very short lived. In addion to this I had many years experience in other churches. The argument about the strong sense of the presence of God being proof that the leaders were right is one I have heard, one I think we have all heard. I was told "you will not find another church with a stronger presence of God." This was used as an argument that SMC had some 'special anointing' that other churches didnt have. The problem with that statement was it was often said by people who had never been to another church EVER or maybe had an occasional experience as a child or at a family occassion. It doesnt make logical sense for people to comment on something of which they have no experience.

I think its also a statement that smacks of pride. In effect the leaders are saying the no other church in the whole world is as good as Struthers and that no one can experience the true depths of Gods presence unless they are a part of Struthers. I think someone said in here before God is omnipresent (everywhere) We on the other hand are not (obviously) If this argument were to be carried to its fullest conclusion and if I happen to be born in Africa, I am missing out on the fullness of Gods presence simply becuase I have no way to get to Struthers church meetings. The bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the channel for the presence of God, not a religious organisation.

Also 1 Corinthians 13 speaks about the manifestation of wonderful spiritual gifts but says that without love they are worthless
" 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." To me this shows it is possible to have such awesome manifestations of Gods presence but for it to be considered worthless if love is not present. Verses 4-7 then goes on to describe what love is ... patient - kind - not easily angered - keeping no record of wrongs - protects - hopes - trusts etc. Are these qualities that can be said of Struthers leaders? They may well describe the qualities of some members I have met, but the leaders?

Many contributors to this board have said that they have experienced the same, if not a greater sense of Gods presence in other churches and what's more there has been a greater level of freedom love and acceptance. As you have said, you already felt the presence of God but experienced it in a deeper way when you went to Struthers. I think it is quite common for people to experience a deeper sense of the presence of God during corporate worship than when they are alone. I know there are a number of theories on this and I dont want to go in to them here.

I can understand your questions about why God saved you if this is what he had in store. I had similar questions. My desire was to get to know God in a deeper way, hence the 400+ mile move to Cumbernauld from England in order to attend a Struthers church. I asked God why he had let this happen. I used up all my savings in moving and gave up a local authority flat. Obviously I spent a lot of time in prayer about going and felt it was the right move, so I felt at first that God was playing some kind of cruel joke on me when I got hurt so badly.

I still dont understand what happened or why. Perhaps I made a bad choice. Perhaps with yourself, you wanted to know God more like I did and Struthers seemed to be a great place at first, as it did to me. All I know is that now I am stronger for it and have learned that with regard to spiritual matters to go on what Gods word says. I cant depend on my feelings and I can't totally rely on someone else telling me what God is saying. I need to check it out against the word of God. also I know this forum has been a great help to me in both finding suppport for myself and offering it to others.

In closing I came across an article entitled "They told me if I left ..." It takes a logical and biblical look at some of the things people are threatened with when they leave or consider leaving a spiritually abusive group. [www.caic.org.au] I found it quite helpful in answering some of my questions and I hope you do to.


God bless

CovLass

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: April 09, 2011 09:51PM

Quote
susie
Hi Seekingsusan

I understand why they would still want to go there. I myself found an amazing presence of God. That is one thing I can never explain to anyone, If the abuse and false doctrine, are really going on, why is the presense of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so eveident there. Does anyone know?

Susie




I think there is a lot of truth in what has been said so far – it is certainly possible to experience the deep presence of God in other churches, or indeed at home alone or with others. I suspect that the other side is also true that, in some cases, people are actually having an emotional rather than a spiritual experience, getting the same buzz that they might get from an adrenaline high or other intensely emotional experiences.

There is another possibility that can go alongside these as well however. Let’s just say that Struthers does have something special – that there is a “sense of the presence of God” that is unusual. If that is true – and it appears that many of the people in this site might agree there is some truth in it – what does it mean?

It seems to me that it means that Struthers are good at using one of the many tools God has given us. But God has given us many, many ways to get to know Him. One of the most important is of course through the study of scripture, which tells us to “put on the whole armour of God” clearly indicating that it is not just one particular tool that is required. A balanced and full Christian experience will include an understanding of scripture, fellowship with other Christians, fighting for justice in the world, loving one another, judging what is said by the leaders and many, many other things. There a re a whole range of things Jesus said about how to live for the Kingdom that bring richness, purpose and the closeness of God to life.

Where Struthers fails is that they do not recognise any of these other tools. They do not accept the authority of scripture, ignoring verses about caring for others and reserving the right to overrule scripture when required. They do not accept the need for Christian fellowship, explicitly preaching that they do not want to hear the opinions of others and banning Christians form meeting together. They do not have any role in fighting injustice and serving the poor, choosing instead to give their money to the rich. They do not allow people to follow the scriptural injunction to judge what leaders say. Finally, and most important of all, they make no effort at all to “love one another” – a key message of Jesus and the whole of Scripture.

What is left is (possibly) very good use of just one particular tool from the toolbox God has given us. If anyone does believe this, a reasonable path to take would be to attend Struthers meetings to feel the deep presence of God, but NOT to accept their doctrine and NOT to accept their unscriptural control over individual lives. So go along by all means, but do not listen to rules about watching TV, wearing a hat, not having fellowship with other Christians or any of the other control issues.

Of course, the problem is that the leaders themselves may not allow this, instead forcing people to accept all or nothing. The result is that people either have to leave, risking the loss of “ the deep experience” or they have to stay and risk losing absolutely everything except this “deep experience”.

To me, the question is not, “is the deep spiritual experience valid?” it is “does scripture say that a deep spiritual experience is THE SINGLE THING THAT IS REQUIRED as the means to become close to God?”

When it is put that way, it is so clear from scripture (and indeed from psychology and every other form of study if you want to look at it in other ways). Seekingsusan has already given examples of verses that are re-written to suit the Struthers approach, and there are many more that could be subjected to the same treatment.

Things like,

* Blessed are the rich, as they will be able to afford private education.

* If I speak with the tounges of men and angles, but have not love, then I must be so amazingly dedicated to God that I do not have time for such trivial things as love.

In fact, I think this is such a rich vein that I have started a new RickRoss discussion with the heading “The gospel according to Struthers”. I am not sure if it will take off, but I thought some others might want to add some of their own favourite Struthers verses. I have started it off by repeating some of the ones that have already been quoted in this discussion. Have a look and see what you think.

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The Gospel According to Struthers Memorial Church
Posted by: ThePetitor ()
Date: April 09, 2011 09:59PM

There have been a few quotes of the Struthers interpretation of scripture in the Struthers memorial church thread. I thought this was sufficiently interesting to deserve a thread of its own, so have started this discussion. If it catches on, fine. If not, that is also OK too, I think there is quite a lot of info out there already!


Examples of the gospel according to Struthers are:

"A new commandment I give unto you, That you continue to seek deep experiences of my presence and above all put your faith in what you feel to the exclusion of everything else."

"By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you continually lay hands on one another, speaking in tongues at all times while seeking the deep feeling of my presence and the inner witness of my holy spirit"

"If I speak in tongues of men and angels but have not continually felt visceral experiences of his presence, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."

"Blessed are the rich, as they will be able to afford private education. "

"If I speak with the tounges of men and angles, but have not love, then I must be so amazingly dedicated to God that I do not have time for such trivial things as love. "

“If you are speaking to a brother and realise they have something against you, leave the brother and go to the alter”.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: Rensil ()
Date: April 10, 2011 06:22AM

Re the singing of a song/chorus over and over again, this used to concern me greatly because, as young people in SMC, we were told in the meeting that we must look straight at the leader and make eye contact whilst she was leading the singing and we used to have to sing the same words over and over again. This frankly seemed to have the effect not of bringing us deeper into God's presence. Rather, I felt we just went into a repetitive mode similar to rote learning for exams, where the actual content becomes meaningless and isn't doing anything for you spiritually. I've wondered if there was a hypnotic effect at times. If not, it certainly worked as a method of control and drew you deeper in to the Struthers ways and contributed to your desire to obey that leader whatever she said or preached.

SMC write a lot of their own songs, some of which are really lovely, but again, certain lines and words are emphasised over and over again. They also shunned some other Christian choruses if they didn't suit their purposes and frequently changed words in them to suit, or altered the timing of parts of the music.

Susie:
I understand exactly how you feel having gone through similar experiences myself - feeling so worthless and that I'd failed God, so why did He save me in the first place. It's awful that Christians should come out feeling like that, but that's what happens to many in SMC. It's not God's plan for His children to feel like that. I hope and pray you will find a supportive church and others who can help you through this. You're not alone, remember, and it takes time. I didn't find it at all easy to leave.

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: susie ()
Date: April 10, 2011 07:27AM

Hi Covlass

Thank you for your post, it was very informative and helpful. I am wondering if the experiences I had in SMC were real or just caused by the atmophere I was in. I know I had experiences at home with God on my own, but they seemed to be different, E.G. I was delivered of panic attacks about 17 years ago when I was home alone there was no speaking in tongues. or anything like the deliverance sessions in SMC. I know that God can deliver and heal in a split second without the aid of man or any kind of trumpet blast.
I did notice while SMC anyone who was delivered or healed would testify giving the name of the person who prayed with them. I also know that if you recieved healing without anyone praying with you it was played down. Chances are you would not have been asked for your testimony. It was all about them not about God or giving the glory to God. In all the time I was there I was never asked for my testimony to salvation or baptisim in the Holy Spirit, because I was saved and baptised at home. I was never allowed as far as SMC were concerned to give the glory to God. Also was healed at a Saturday night meeting, while listening to a alter call for healing. I did not even realise I was healed until 3 weeks later! When it struck me it was gone. I was told to leave it to make sure the healing was real that was 7 years ago.

Susie

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Re: Struthers Memorial Independent Pentecostal Church
Posted by: seekingsusan ()
Date: April 11, 2011 04:00AM

Quote
Rensil
.

I've wondered if there was a hypnotic effect at times. If not, it certainly worked as a method of control and drew you deeper in to the Struthers ways and contributed to your desire to obey that leader whatever she said or preached.

Heres two other factors often found in SMC that could be seen as highly emotionally manipulative:

1) Whenever embarking on a public prayer, prophecy or sermon, always start with a low pitch, and relatively quietly. Then very gradualy as the prayer or sermon progresses, raise the pitch as you pray, so by the end it is both higher and louder.

2) When praying, try to convey a sense of utter fear - as in "scary" fear. As if the "Angel of Death" was looming over the congregation with a giant axe.

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