Sorry, I must have been writing my post while Seekingsusan and Squareone were writing theirs. I can't quite believe that the stock market fiasco was a punishment from God on the congregation since only a handful of them were actually aware of the scam to begin with. Most of the congregation were kept in the dark and had no idea of what had happened until after the damage was done.
It could have perhaps been a punishment for Mr. Black and any others who were directly involved in the scam but I know that there was some intervention before it got out of hand, to try and put a stop to it, but this was completely ignored because it didn't fit with what Mr. Black wanted at the time. If it had gone the other way and the church did make a lot of money out of it, I doubt if any of the congregation would even now know about the shares fiasco in the first place. The fact that only a handful of 'Yes Men' were invited to take part suggests that the whole situation would have been kept under wraps and not divulged to the rest of the congregation at any point in time; and it was only because the money was lost that the truth eventually came out.
However, I do think that if God is moving and speaking to anyone who remains in the church and they choose to continue to ignore Him then it's likely that they won't be delivered out of this cult because they haven't 'got the ears to hear' or 'the eyes to see'. Sadly, if that's the case then there is very little us mere mortals can do about it except continue to pray for them and watch and wait.
Seems to me there was no malicious intent in what Mr Black was doing. And I'm not getting any sense that he was doing this to line his pockets.
I guess he broke quite a few rules in going behind the scenes so to speak in order to get a handful of their most pliable flock to sign up, and failed to seek, or by the looks of what cbarb says, take heed of - any warnings or advice - but scam seems a bit strong.
What is clear to me is that any claims of divine guidance coming from this church are to be treated with a very large pinch of salt.
They are simply laughable and shamelessly hypocritical.
As for it being a punishment from above, give me a break ! we get loony evangelicals like Pat Roberts coming out with the same bigoted claptrap whenever a hurricane or calamity strikes Haiti, New Orleans or elsewhere considered a haven for the devil on a regular basis. "Its because they were gays or liberals" etc etc.
And if there really is a hell, thats where people like him and other narrow minded, mean spirited fundies deserve to be headed.
Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 09/11/2012 12:49AM by Clive.
Sorry, just to clarify it, I was using the word 'scam' in the sense that Mr. Black intended to take the action without consulting with the WHOLE of the church and naturally that was because the action was preached against for years as being an 'unholy' thing to do (play the stock market game). So while the church was preaching one thing Mr. B was doing the opposite and by doing this covertly was, in effect, scamming the majority of the people whose money was involved in the action; ie: all those faithfuls who paid their tithes (in most cases a third of their annual income!) and stuck their hands in their wallets every time the collection plate went round. These faithfuls believed their money was being put to good use to help run the various church ventures and building upkeeps; and the majority of them would have been appalled that this money was going to be gambled in the hopes of turning a profit, given that they also believed strongly that gambling in any form is wrong.
Stocks and shares are an integral part of our modern lives, banks do it, insurance companies do it etc. but SMC is (or was in my day) very strong on it's condemnation of gambling and, if the outcome of an investment is in any way uncertain then it is, by definition, a gamble and therefore wrong in the eyes of SMC. I did think of using the words 'error in judgement' but since SMC preach that all gambling is wrong then how could Mr.B claim this was the case when, by his own words from the platform, he already knew that such an action was wrong and against God's teaching? So the only other word I could think of was 'scam' what else can you call it if you're taking other people's money and investing it in shares without their consent or knowledge? Share dealers themselves would face prison for doing such a thing wtih their investors' money and it would be called 'fraudulent'.
When it comes to banks, insurance companies etc. you agree, on their forms, to them making whatever investments they see fit but in most cases you can also write to them to opt-out of certain investments and ask that your money is only invested in certain areas. You can also go online and check the investments of any stock market company but the majority of SMCers weren't even aware that their money was being used in this way. They were not given the option to opt-out of any share dealings or voice thier opinions on the legality or morality of the investment. In fact only a handful of people were involved and, it seems, those people were asked because their unquestioning support could be guaranteed.
Maybe I am being too harsh but the constant double-standards are enough to make you want to puke and many of those who left because of the sour share deal did leave feeling that they had been scammed or hoodwinked by the 'Don't do as I do but do as I tell you' teachings of SMC.
Sorry but I still can't think of a better word for it at the moment but that's probably because the whole affair makes me very angry when you couple it with all the other horrendous things the leaders of the church have said and done over the years.
In my prayers tonight, I think I will need to ask God to give me more tolerance and forgiveness in my heart because sometimes the anger just consumes me even although I am well aware that it's not a healthy state of mind.
Clive makes a very good point. Let's not speculate about whether something is a punishment from God or not. There's simply no way of knowing either way.And in fact, this is to fall foul of the same folly that the SMC leaders are so guilty of, ie, to claim to have some kind of divine insight.
The reasons Black made the gambling mistake are:
1) He was lured in by the opportunity to make (albeit on behalf of the church) a lot of money. 2) He had no divine insight or any supernatural abilities. Being able to string a few apparently wise words together with a pensive, knowing and wistful look is a human, sociological ability and nothing more. People need to learn the difference.
As I leave SMC, I'm also leaving pentecostalism. So much of what we do is one big wind up. The hysteria, the singing, the whipping up a frenzy, the obsessessing after holiness (to the detriment of self and sometimes loved ones) I feel I've outgrown it and ready to move onto something a bit more credible and adult.(No offense).
Actually I was thinking back to periods in my life where there was a "sure thing" that everyone was being encouraged to get into. In my case it was property. In the very early 80s a friend said I absolutely MUST get on the housing ladder asap. Which I did. And benefited from the boom of that period as did other new housebuyers.
Much later in the early 90s the same friend urged me to buy another property for the same reasons. BUT - and heres the rub - this fellow had been to a dinner where Nigel Lawson was present too. And my friend caught Lawson mentioning that the 90s housing boom was about to go pear shaped.
The same friend soon after this begged me to pull out of the offer i'd just made contractually on a property and said just to put it into savings and ride the coming storm. I was a bit peeved about this, but took his advice. And spared myself the negative equity nightmare that many others went through in the same period.
My point is - this is what a REAL personal relationship with someone who cares for you, can make a real difference to things If you ask them to, and is wise and who knows a thing or two results in.
Isnt this what one would expect from having an intimate - privileged - anointed connection with the almighty ?
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/11/2012 10:46AM by Clive.
As I leave SMC, I'm also leaving pentecostalism. So much of what we do is one big wind up. The hysteria, the singing, the whipping up a frenzy, the obsessessing after holiness (to the detriment of self and sometimes loved ones) I feel I've outgrown it and ready to move onto something a bit more credible and adult.(No offense).[/quote]
These words from blackwatch rang big bells for me. I was never a member of SMC but was part of a house group led by a person who considered herself a member, albeit at a distance . Anyway we were fed a watered down version of the holiness preaching , watered down i say because , can you believe this ... I even accepted the idea at the time that the 'pure' version would have been unpaletable for me , in my 'oh so fleshly sinfull state'.
I was always thinking back then that I didnt get the full pentecostal, shivers and uncontrolable babbling in tongues because there was something wrong ME! I have since learned like lots of other people that the most moving and long lasting experiences of our God are the unexpected ones , the smallest of things that nevertheless tell you loud and clear that He is near, always near. I am so gratefull to Him to have been able to leave behind me the sad empty feeling I had when trying to reach the so called holiness standard of SMC. The feeling I was a second rate person for wanting a partner, and not wanting to stay a single female for Struthers . I'm afraid I have never found another Church since , I prefer just me with God, thats where I find Him.
I like your post Clare, it rings true with me. I'd had no experience of Pentecostalism until Struthers, although when I went at first I didn't know it was pentecostal. Actually, to be honest I didn't even think of church in those terms, to me it was just another group of Christians I was meeting and I had high hopes it would be good for me and that I would perhaps find another bit of what I felt was missing from my walk with God. I really thought I was meeting new brothers and sisters!... I didn't ever experience speaking in tongues or any of the other things but I assumed it would come with time once I understood and/or got in the right place... or whatever. Ironic to go searching for 'more' and come out with less plus a sore heart and a wounded soul. I found it really hard to go to church again too and didn't for a long time. I make myself go now and I'm kind of starting from scratch again (hence the name squareone:).. And it's ok.
about speaking in tongues.... I think I do believe it is a gift of the spirit, but I found it all a bit difficult at Struthers. It was the main reason I didn't take my children. I couldn't explain to them what was happening. It didn't seem all that biblical to me....Or even edifying, as you didn't know what was being said so how could it help? and even when someone was praying in English the undercurrent of moans and groans etc meant you couldn't hear and therefore agree with what they were saying!
For me we're on safer ground with the fruits of the spirit rather than the gifts.... ie love, joy ,peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. You can't fake these, not over time anyway
Quote squareone For me we're on safer ground with the fruits of the spirit rather than the gifts.... ie love, joy ,peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. You can't fake these, not over time anyway
I agree wholeheartedly with these last few posts. I too have stopped going to churches except when I visit my folks down South and then I go really to please them although the church is very different from SMC and extremely friendly and supportive. But for the most part I keep my spiritual relationship with God to myself. I never describe myself as a 'religious' person but only as a 'spiritual' person. I don't really believe any more that religion is anything to do with being spiritual and some of the worst hypocrites I have known in my life were members of SMC so I steer clear of any regular church going.
I was baptised in the spirit when I was about 13 or 14 in SMC and I spoke in tongues then but now I'm not so sure that it wasn't just me making noises because everyone else was making the same noises. I can't really decipher whether or not my experiences in SMC were really from a spiritual annointing or just the hype from those around me. I do have to say that I have felt those same uplifting and almost spiritual feelings while at concerts in the past and even during an air show when the Red Arrows did a flyby... so I guess that kind of puts a bit of perspective on it for me (although I wasn't shouting out in tongues at concerts and the Red Arrows display but the emotional feelings were pretty much the same).
I'm glad to hear that at least some people are beginning to get out of the unhealthy environment of SMC, it's so good to hear how much relief and freedom you guys are experiencing and I don't think God really gives two hoots whether you worship him in a church or your own living room as long as you are living the life he intended you to have.
You are so right squareone, about what the important atributes to a healthy God-full life are and striving for a seemingly unattainable holiness is not one of them, thank the Lord for his mercy and grace.
To the recent posters I'm sorry that your experiences at SMC have put you off pentecostalism and that you don't want anything to do with it now. Can I assure you that there are other pentecostal churches out there which are nothing like SMC. There is no loud and continuous speaking in tongues at every meeting as is the case in SMC. There is no pointing people out in meetings and speaking publicly about their sin or shortcomings, no loud pressurizing tongues if deliverance is required etc. Just because SMC doesn't do it biblically or correctly or in order, doesn't mean that these practices are in error. They are clearly outlined in the Bible but can be misused.
However, I do agree that the fruits of the Spirit are far more important and they take time to grow and develop within us. I understand that some people may associate use of the spiritual gifts with being in SMC and have to give all that a break. I am just sad that you may be missing out on what God wants you to have and that it's because you have suffered damage from being involved in SMC.
Re the shares/financial crisis, the main leaders at that time were Mr Black and Miss Taylor although she was an invalid by that time and wasn't out at church very often. I don't think Mr Black even shared with Miss Taylor what he was doing with the finances. Considering that she was still the main leader of the church, this doesn't seem right. Also she was the "expert" where discernment and revelation knowledge were concerned, i.e. we were told that she could see through anything and knew what was going on within people. So, as others here have said, why didn't she discern what was going on and tell Mr Black to stop? I believe that she was very displeased with him when it came to light.
As Chesterk55 pointed out, it was SMC leaders who admitted that it was a mistake and, as a result, Mr Black offered to step down. We members or Forum posters didn't decide it was a big mistake, they told us it was. Some years later Mary Black referred to the crisis, (although she did not name it or describe what happened, I presume in case new people found out and wanted to leave) as "perhaps the biggest test to come against the church and in that test, some people went down" i.e. they left the church, including someone she valued greatly who assisted her in leadership. She said it. She was very very upset about it. No matter how we analyse it or explain it, it was a terrible time and the church was rocked and lost many members. I remember the tense atmosphere and greatly curtailed sermons for a few weeks after.