Current Page: 7 of 14
Former Champion for Christ , MorningStar, Victory Campus Min
Posted by: ExCult ()
Date: March 19, 2006 04:58AM

[Note: This letter contains a lot of jargon and insider concepts. If you’re not a religious animal, much if not most of this material will be over your head. A dictionary of Maranatha speak is long overdue. This would help secular cult watchers and secular journalists understand Maranatha literature and the testimony of former members. - Ex]


The first thing that happened after I started coming against the spirits the Austin elders were moving in is Alan started getting migraines. He had a problem with them before, but they were coming more frequently and in greater intensity. In one case, on his way to a regional staff meeting, it was so bad he had to turn around and go back. The next thing that happened is that Georgia developed stomach cramps. The cramps were accompanied by constant vomiting. She was hardly able to eat for weeks. This condition was supposed to be complications from delivery. But when Alan took her on an emergency vacation to her hometown in Kentucky for a couple of weeks, the cramps and vomiting stopped. They started again immediately after she returned to Texas. This meant the cause of the sickness was spiritual rather than biological. Meanwhile, the church was having major financial problems and had to lay off most of the staff.

I had several nasty confrontations with the elders, with corresponding spiritual and physical manifestations, usually wild and strange. Then I backed off, locked myself in my room for several months, and tried to figure out what was going on; not only with the local elders, but also with the board and the many disturbing things that had been going on for several years.

The turning point came when [BH] was excommunicated for lesbianism. How could someone in the ministry practice lesbianism for almost a year and a half without anyone catching on? Furthermore, she was my friend. I donated to one of her mission trips. I took her out to eat. I let her cry on my shoulder about having a hard time during ministry training in Hawaii. How could I get caught off guard?

[BH] was one of a long list of people. It seemed that every few months there was a members only meeting to explain that someone had left the church or had been asked to leave. This was often accompanied by the revelation that sexual immorality was involved. Something was seriously wrong.

Another thing I found disturbing was that no one suspected anything about Jimmy Swaggart. Not even David Wilkerson, who had a reputation for holiness and discernment, and who was one of the few people who supported Swaggart during the period that Swaggart was on the rampage.

Looking at these 2 situations, [BH] at the local level and Swaggart at the national level, and MANY other pieces of circumstantial evidence, then and in the months following, my conclusion was that there was widespread unconfessed sexual immorality; not only in Maranatha but throughout the American church, including the ministry.

Due to the sensitive nature of this subject, to keep names under the radar of search engines, I have substituted initials for the names of people who were never board members or local elders, and omitted the last names of board members and local elders. I have used the full names of famous national figures.

Let’s get the minor factors out of the way first.

- For a while, I faked it while still going to church, so I knew how easy it is to fake it.

- There was a lot of hanky panky going on behind the scenes. A lot of it was confessed to me as a friend, a lot of it whispered in my ear as gossip; all of this in addition to what was revealed in the pulpit. So plenty had already happened long before I started drawing conclusions.

- One of the first things that happened when I went to Austin is that Brady and his fiance, both of whom were on staff, fell into "nothing less than immorality." She decided to leave him and the church. Brady not only remained in the ministry, but was sent to A&M to start a new chapter. The part about immorality was not revealed until a few years later.

- Then there was the case of [AF], who took turns playing the slut to one degree or another with several brothers. Including going to bed with a backslidden former member. She suspects she got pregnant from that sexual encounter, followed by what she suspects was a miscarriage. She was never taken to task in the pulpit for any of this behavior, and eventually left the church in good standing.

- There had been several other people I knew in the ministry who had fallen, and it always caught me by surprise. One was a music minister at a Baptist church in my college town. Another was a youth minister at a Christian Fellowship in my hometown.

- On a national scale, there was also Charles Schmidt. How could anyone who talked so passionately and so insightfully about the things of God turn about to be so perverted. And how could he secretly practice homosexuality for 25 years.

- The best counterfeit is the real thing. After the Jim Bakker affair, for example, who was the last person you would expect to be caught hiring a prostitute with a thousand dollars of church money. That’s right, Jimmy Swaggart.

- It was stated when [BH] was excommunicated that she was not involved with anyone in the church. But the vision in Zechariah of the 2 winged women seemed to contradict this, i.e., lesbianism and religion.

- Long before I even considered the possibility that there was widespread sexual immorality, [Forunner staff] gave me a hug at a conference. During this hug, I picked up some of the kinkiest vibes ever.

- [GH’s] roommate would prophesy at almost every meeting, and it was the same prophesy every time: "Oh my children, I love you." He was later excommunicated for having an affair with one of the sisters in the church. Ruth Prince prophesied at a conference, "Oh my children, it was my love for you." I got the major creeps while she was prophesying. One of the sisters in Austin started getting a whorish look on her face, and dressing rather lewd. She started prophesying, "Oh my children, I love you."

- One of my friends said to me, "Two really bad things happened to us, and don't ever ask what, because I can NEVER tell you." Usually when it's something that bad, it's adultery or rape.

- There was the case of [TL] and [GH]. It seemed that everywhere I saw [GH], I saw [TL], and everywhere I saw [TL], I saw [GH]. Even when I tried to spend some time with [TL], somehow [GH] would end up in the room. It seemed different than your average male friendship, especially since [TL] was married.

- Guys, including Greg, running around the house in their undergarments.

A few other things were going through my mind during this period.

- One was the strange response of the people I was accusing. For example, when Gary North's secretary wrote to me, she told me that she was not writing on behalf of North or any of his associates mentioned in my letters. Problem is, her letter was on ICE stationary. I pointed this out to North, and didn't here from him. Another example is someone at Kenneth Copeland's office sending me a mock list, with me hooked up with various famous people. At the bottom of the page were Gumby drawings.

- Another thing going through my mind was a theory that a spirit had taken hold of Maranatha, but no one had figured it out. In other words, everyone thought they and a few others were the only ones who had fallen into sexuality immorality.

- The biggest question in my mind was why no one in Maranatha challenged what I was saying. I roomed with these people, ate with them, went to church with them, went to conferences with them, shared struggles with them, etc. Yet none of them intervened. They didn't hesitate to tell me that I was wearing the wrong clothes to home group. They would immediately correct me if I made the slighest false accusation. They would contend with me about the slightest false inference or false implication. But they didn't say anything when I concluded they were all jumping in bed with each other. It seemed logical that they weren't saying anything because they didn't have anything to say.

- One thing that made it easy for me to believe people were practicing secret sexual sin for a long time was the severe moral depravity of the people I was dealing with.

- A Jezebel spirit was a major factor. A Jezebel spirit is an extensive study. Suffice it to say it was the major spirit over Maranatha and the major spirit over the Austin church. With abortion, homosexuality, divorce, ect, it is definitely the major spirit over America. Spiritual warfare and discerning of spirits are not, to say the least, unfamiliar subjects to this generation of America's spiritual leader's, many of whom have openly declared themselves on a crusade to take America back. Sexual immorality accompanies a Jezebel spirit. Yet in spite of the major national sexual issues, there has been no consensus on a Jezebel spirit as the chief spirit of the age; no battle cry, not even one spokesman that I know of. How to explain this full scale omission? The theory, of course, was that they were all these leaders were under the influence of that spirit.

- Bob’s wife Rose moved in a very strong Jezebel spirit. She was one of the main reasons Maranatha was so prophetically oriented. She lived and breathed prophecy. Bob once teased her about this on stage during a conference. After she explained the prophetic meaning of the colors in the flags of several nations, he asked us, “How would like to be married to a prophetic machine?” Prophecy and a Jezebel spirit go hand in hand, as much as sexual immorality and a Jezebel spirit go hand in hand. There were more prophets, false and authentic, in the Old Testament story of Jezebel than in any other story. And prophets played a much greater role in that story than in any other story. Jezebel’s religion was Baal worship, and cult prostitutes were a major element of Baal worship. The book of Revelation refers to another women named Jezebel: “Nevertheless, I have a few things against you because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality…”

- Another major factor was that we were trained to never even consider whether anyone in leadership was involved in sexual immorality. When Rusty Russell came to Austin and did individual prophetic and deliverance ministry, he asked me point blank, "Do you have a problem with fornication? Homosexuality? Masturbation?" When John Rohrer got ready to pray for my leg to heal, he stopped, looked up, and asked me, "Are in sin?" I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "Are you in sexual sin right now?" When I tried it on Nick Pappis several years after my departure, he bounced it right back at me: "Well, let me ask you, are YOU a homosexual?"

We were told that questions about leadership were of the devil, that it was the leadership who was supposed to examine us, not the other way around. That factor and the extremely strong spirits of wickedness and witchcraft that the leadership was operating in contributed heavily to the isolation, paranoia, and deception I was caught up in during that period.

- There was the case of Georgia. The first time I saw her, she was one of the loveliest women I've ever met and one of sweetest people I've ever met. Several years later, she was a cold blooded witch and as ugly as the wicked she was displaying. She came back from a summer institute in Gainesville stuck up as all getout and full of lofty talk of great spiritual things. From then on, the Austin church was the Georgia show. Alan by contrast was apathetic and lazy as all getout. He did something only when he absolutely had to do, and even then only what he absolutely had to. He also acted clinically insane. All of this frustrated Georgia to no end. He refused to lead the church, so she tried to lead the church through him. He was also probably the most abusive and neglectful member of the board. She didn't hold up well under this either. I watched her bristle or turn cold several times, in public and in private. After she turned into a witch, she operated in a very strong sensuous spirit. She was too vigorous and her husband was too much of a dud. It was easy to believe she was grazing elsewhere.

- Another major factor was [GT]. His was an unexpected pregnancy. He did not look like the other children in the family. To someone highly mystically oriented, these 2 things about his name were a sign pointing to Georgia: He was the only child in the family without a Biblical name; the first 3 letters of his name were the first 3 letters of Georgia’s name. My theory was that Alan was not the father of [GT]; and that Georgia's severe, prolonged sickness following his birth, which Alan considered the Devil trying to kill her, was actually God trying to get her confess her sin.

- Georgia’s sickness also seemed to fit a Jezebel spirit. In the Old Testament, a wicked prince married to and influenced by a daughter of Queen Jezebel, died in great pain after a prolonged, hideous illness. The details of his sickness and death were prophesied by Elijah, a prophet most famous for dealing with the Jezebel spirit of his day. The Apostle John said to the church in Thyatira of the New Testament Jezebel, “…I will cast her into a sick bed...” Like Rose, Georgia moved in a very strong Jezebel spirit.

- While I was pondering [BH’s] situation, my thoughts were interrupted with an image of Helen. I went back to thinking about [BH] and was again interrupted by an image of Helen. This happened several times, an image of Helen pushing aside by an image of [BH]. Being in a prophetically oriented organization, I frequently heard people say, "I saw a vision," "I saw an image," "I had a dream." So did not seem unusual at all for me to see this.

Greg was another one of those guys who had a longstanding marriage problem and didn’t know it. He was much more careful in public than Alan, but there were signs. Given the kind of callous abuse she no doubt had been subjected to for a long time, it was easy to believe Helen sought refuge in a lesbian relationship. Also, a few months earlier, I heard, in the spirit, Greg saying to Helen as they discussed their marriage, "I don't know what you want!"

- Later I saw an image of [BB], Georgia, and Bob Weiner. In the image, [BB] was telling Bob that Georgia had propositioned him. On another occasion, I saw Rusty putting some kind of curse on me. I also saw an image of Kenneth Copeland confessing to T.L. Osborne that he was afraid to admit publicly that he murdered someone while he was in a gang before he was saved. I heard, in the spirit, [TL] sarcastically saying, "Poor me, I didn't get one of those letters," and [CB] saying to [RP] about me, "Boy, he must really be mad at us."

- One of the strangest episodes was a dream about Georgia caressing my hand and saying of the elders, "They're lying." I woke up to discover a nocturnal emission, and I hadn't had a problem with nocturnal emissions in several years.

- Perhaps the wildest manifestation was when a demon from Alan attacked me. A few seconds later, 3 elders showed up outside my door - Bernie , Kenneth, and Don. I had just come home, so they were probably waiting for me. They pounded and pounded and pounded. This was after 9 o'clock at night. Bernie tried twice to break through the window.

The situation had been building for a couple of years. After the news about [BH], I started to come unraveled. I absolutely freaked out on several occasions. During this period, I became convinced I knew who was practicing which specific sexual behavior with whom. After a few more months, and many unanswered accusations, I started to calm down.

I remain convinced there was a lot more sexual immorality going on behind the scenes than anyone was willing to admit, though obviously not near as much as I concluded during that period. I am also convinced that the same is true of the organizations that grew out of Maranatha.

I need to add that all the specific accusations I made were based strictly on theory and conjecture. No one confessed anything to me before, and no one admitted anything to me after.

I share this story not to justify, re-accuse, or embarrass, but to explain. Apparently a lot of people didn’t realize I actually thought they were doing these things. But another reason is that a lot of people are in denial about the basis for my general conclusions.


Options: ReplyQuote
Former Champion for Christ , MorningStar, Victory Campus Min
Posted by: ExCult ()
Date: March 19, 2006 05:05AM

I, too, remember our desires to clean up the Congress from the abuses of the 80s and 90s. Unfortunately, we let guys like Ed Buckham and Tom DeLay take charge. Their goal is and always has been to control the power and from that, the power. They tell themselves they're doing "God's work," but I know a lot about Ed Buckham's "religion," and he's no more interested in that than he is in becoming a Democrat. He was never a "minister" that I am aware of. He was, however, an elder in the DC church of Maranatha, a former campus-based group that opened a DC church with 15 people who came to town from around the country because they felt "called." Here's the front page article on this cult group that ran in the Wall Street Journal on Aug 16, 1985. Until this post, no one has linked Buckham with Maranatha and their extremely questionable beliefs. 2005/03/for_republicans.htm

[Ronald Reagan. Miss America. Tom DeLay. NFL. Really makes you wonder when the media is going to launch a full blown investigation.]

Options: ReplyQuote
Former Champion for Christ , MorningStar, Victory Campus Min
Posted by: spectrum ()
Date: March 20, 2006 06:24AM

Your story is amazing, however I am disgusted :x to read of the unbiblical events that occured while you were involved with Maranatha. I am a recovering former cult member myself :wink: , and I am wondering why you waited so long to publish this list of incriminating behaviour? I have been unable to 'go public' with my own list of abusive behaviours by those in my former organisation. What made you finally decide to post all those horrendous facts? :?:

Options: ReplyQuote
Former Champion for Christ , MorningStar, Victory Campus Min
Posted by: ExCult ()
Date: March 27, 2006 03:34PM

GAY IN THE LAND OF HOLY ROLLERS: I Was Told Hitler Can Be Forgiven, But Not My Brother Who Died Of AIDS.

By Esera Tuaolo

[Editor's note: Esera Tuaolo created a stir when he came out as gay in 2002 after retiring from a nine-year career in the NFL. In this except from his new book, the story picks up in 1997 when Tuaolo leaves the Minnesota Vikings to join the Jacksonville Jaguars. Tuaolo was still in the closet, but in Minnesota he met his partner, Mitchell, (with whom he is now raising two children).]

Jacksonville is the land of Holy Rollers. I have never been anywhere else like that, where religion has taken over the entire city. It extended to the football team.

The Jaguars were known as a Christian team. About half of the players were involved in some way with an organization known as Champions for Christ. I had seen Christian groups on other teams, but nothing like this. The CFC members seemed to accept only the guys who attended their weekly bible study. I was my usual Mr. Aloha, always happy-go-lucky in the locker room and able to get along with everyone. But I could feel the tension between the CFC guys and the rest of the players. It was as though you had to choose between two cliques that divided the team.

A lot of the team’s stars belonged to CFC, including Mark Brunell, the quarterback who had upset John Elway and the Denver Broncos in the AFC Central Division playoffs the previous season, and Tony Boselli, an offensive lineman and the first player the franchise drafted. They were the two biggest stars on the team. They really pressured guys, especially the younger players. An older player might start preaching to a younger guy in the locker room that he needed to change his ways because the end was near. You could feel the threat of rejection. Don Davey told me the star players and other CFC members had shunned him because he hadn’t accepted their invitation. It felt like if you didn’t go to their bible study, you weren’t part of the team.

The Holy Rollers carried the attitude, Either you’re with us or you’re against us. That took me back to the Pentecostal days of my childhood when the pastor preached, “If your friends don’t go to church, you should de-friend them and find some Christian friends.” When I arrived in Jacksonville, they thought that I would automatically gravitate toward Champions for Christ because I was a Christian. They had seen me kneel in the center of the field with other players after games. I always went to chapel on game days with the Vikings and Packers. But CFC’s militant approach rubbed me the wrong way.

In a way, CFC seemed like a cult to me. Any religion that excludes a certain group is a cult. True religion accepts everyone as they are. That’s my understanding of God’s love. I also don’t think you should pressure someone into faith. I think we should teach people about our faith by the way we live. Our job as Christians is not to convert; our job is to introduce the idea that Jesus Christ can help someone in his life. I leave it to the Holy Spirit to convert and to the individual to feel the conviction in his heart. When you try to push religion on others, it tears a team apart. I could see that in the Jaguars’ locker room.

My hunch that something wasn’t quite right with Champions for Christ later proved correct. When running back Curtis Enis, the Chicago Bears’ top draft pick in 1998, fired his agent after attending CFC bible studies and hired a friend of CFC president Greg Ball, the media started questioning the group’s practices. Reports speculated that CFC, which endorses the biblical practice of tithing, preyed upon the NFL’s high-paid players. Brunell, who made more than $6 million a year, and Boselli, who made more than $2 million annually, both admitted that they gave 10 percent of their income to CFC. The NFL, which had acted in the past to protect players against scams, launched its own investigation. Much of the talk focused on the Jaguars. This all happened after I had left the team.

While with the Jaguars, I felt the pressure to join Champions for Christ. Not long after I had been in Jacksonville, a teammate and CFC member asked me if I believed in God. I said yes. Then he asked me if I had accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. I again said yes. He invited me to the bible study. I balked. An experience at my church in Minneapolis made me cautious.

I had attended services regularly at Speak the Word since 1992, when I had come to play with Minnesota. In all of those times, I hadn’t heard a word spoken about homosexuality. The week after my first date with Mitchell, I went to the Sunday morning service at Speak the Word on my own. The topic of the sermon was homosexuality. I had admired the pastor. He had preached about love and discipline, topics that spoke to me and bolstered my faith; but that Sunday he spoke about homosexuality as a sinful choice, as though someone could choose his or her sexual orientation. I felt like Fred Flintstone, the way he shrinks when someone yells at him. The more the pastor railed against homosexuality, the smaller I felt in the big church, as though everyone was pushed away from me.

The pastor proclaimed that he was going to raise his children to be straight. He said the way to do that was to raise them “the Christian way.” That meant he would be involved in their lives and teach them to be great children of God. I had been raised the Christian way, with the bible, and I was gay. Yet the pastor thought he could dictate his children’s sexual orientation. I couldn’t believe these words coming out of his mouth. This church was a place where I had felt at home. I had given money to support its ministry. Yet the pastor was talking about me as someone who was not one of God’s children.

I didn’t want to listen to any more of this negative talk. His message said nothing about love. Stop this talk, I was saying to him in my mind. Please stop. Then something surprising happened. As I listened, a peace came over me. I had the revelation, he’s not telling the truth. I started crying. The people around me consoled me, saying, “The Spirit has touched you.” Yeah, He did, I thought, but not like you think. The Spirit said, “I do love you.” He told me the truth. God opened my eyes as to what kind of church that was. I wanted a church that preached God’s love, a church that made me—and everyone—feel like part of the family.

That was the last day I set foot in Speak the Word.

Needless to say, I had reservations about attending the Champions for Christ bible study. One day, I saw a CFC flier in the locker room that listed Darryl Flowers as the guest speaker. I knew Darryl from Oregon State, where he had been a star basketball player along with future NBA point guard Gary Payton. Darryl had later become our football team’s chaplain. I had liked Darryl. I figured I could please my CFC teammates and catch up with Darryl by attending that week’s bible study. I had attended other teams’ bible studies, where a handful of guys sat in a circle and talked about scripture. This one wasn’t like that. It was held in the conference room of an airport hotel. There must have been a hundred people there: my teammates with their wives and their friends from church. Beforehand, I greeted Darryl. We hugged. He seemed happy to see me. The bible study started like many others. We introduced ourselves and said some prayers. Then Darryl started to speak.

I expected his message to be like those I had heard in the past. I expected him to talk about drawing inspiration from the Good Book, or about finding our strength in God. I hadn’t expected him to speak against homosexuality as an abomination. He sounded like the preacher at the church I attended as a child, saying that such sinners would spend eternity in the lake of fire.

The anger started to rise within me. I was fed up with this kind of misinformed talk. [My brother] Tua [who died of AIDS] came to mind. I had not let myself think of him since his funeral. I missed him too much. I had tried to block out the pain. That night with Darryl speaking, I couldn’t help but think of Tua and what a wonderful, kind person he was. I thought of the way he had helped others and the way he treated my mother so well. A person like that could not end up in Hell, could they? I thought about Mitchell. I had finally met a wonderful man, who I thought was the answer to my prayers, yet this kind of talk forced us to live a secret life. I wanted to stand up and shout, “I’m not going to Hell!” Instead, I stewed in my seat, torn between what I heard and what I lived.

After Darryl’s sermon, we broke into small discussion groups. Darryl was in my group. I said to him, “I had a gay brother who died of AIDS.” The other guys in my group leaned back with worried expressions on their faces, like my brother had contaminated me. “You’re telling me that if Hitler in his last breath asked God for forgiveness, that he would be forgiven,” I continued, “but my brother, who was gay, would not be forgiven?” “Yes,” Darryl said. “Murder is different from abomination. Murder is a sin that can be forgiven. Homosexuality can’t be forgiven because it is an abomination.” “That does not sit right with me,” I said to Darryl. “If you knew my brother Tua and how many people he helped, you would know like I do that he has a place in heaven.” I stood up to leave. “I can’t accept that.” “That’s what the word of God says.” Darryl quoted Leviticus 18: 22, “You will not have intercourse with a man as you would with a woman. This is a hateful thing.” (New Jerusalem Bible) “If you’re going to follow Leviticus, then every NFL player should be put to death for working on the Sabbath and touching pigskin,” I shot back. (In addition to the passage Darryl quoted, the book of Leviticus also mandates resting on the Sabbath and not contacting pigs, which are considered unclean. What’s more, Exodus 35: 2 states, “Work must be done for six days, but the seventh must be a holy day for you, a day of complete rest, in honor of Yahweh. Anyone who does any work on that day will be put to death.” New Jerusalem Bible)

They looked at me like I was crazy. I walked out.

I drove back to the hotel irate. When the Vikings played [an] exhibition game in Berlin, I had visited a concentration camp near the city. I had seen Hitler’s legacy of horror. He was going to be forgiven, but not my brother? Why did Tua need to be forgiven in the first place? Back in my drab room, I started to drink tequila. The more I thought about what had happened and the more I drank, the more upset I became. What if Darryl and all of the guys there — my teammates and the star players — were right? Maybe Tua wasn’t in heaven. Maybe I was headed to the lake of fire. That’s what pastors had been telling me about homosexuality since I was a child. My heart didn’t believe it, but my head was filled with their preaching. I was confused about what I truly believed. I had spoken up about Tua, but I hadn’t had the guts to tell the other guys about me. Once again, I was a coward. Why must I always deny who I was? How long would I have to feel ashamed of myself?

All of my confusion and conflict came out in a rage. I drove my fist through the wall. I wanted to kill myself. I felt the despair and defeat that I had known so many times in Minnesota. Once again, I was alone and confused and wanted to die. If I had had a gun that night, I would have used it.

I called Mitchell. Instead of letting him comfort me, I blamed him for the miserable way I felt. I told him that I could not be happy with him, that I didn’t want to see him again. In my confusion and despair, I rambled on about being a sinner and not deserving him in my life. In the next breath, I begged him not to leave. Eventually, I hung up on him. He called back. I hung up. I immediately called him to tell him why I had hung up on him. He wasn’t sympathetic enough. He couldn’t understand. I hung up again. This went on for three or four hours. Mitchell kept calling and talking until he got through to me. I think he realized how serious this was, that I really was suicidal, that he could lose me. He didn’t panic. He was able to look past all of the rotten things I said about him. He managed to calm me down. His persistence and love kept me alive. He told me to sleep before making a decision about our relationship. Finally, exhausted, I surrendered to sleep at about 2:00 a.m. The next morning, I woke up drained. I was grateful to have football practice. It gave me somewhere to go.

Some of the players who had not been in my small discussion group had not seen me leave. One of those guys approached me in the locker room and asked, “What did you think of the bible study?” “I consider myself a Christian,” I said. “But you guys are stuck in the Old Testament practice of condemning certain groups. In the New Testament, Jesus brings love, forgiveness, and compassion to everyone. To live like Christ is not to cast out another group. That’s what happened at the bible study.” We had a long conversation.

The New Testament was the new revelation; it gave us a new understanding of God through the person of Jesus Christ. I’m not saying we should throw out the Old Testament. I’m saying we should read it in context of the New Testament. To stick with some of the teachings in the Old Testament can cause people to live in the past. I think many of the Old Testament’s comments on homosexuality are teachings from the past that Jesus did not endorse. I heard Robin Williams deliver a great line: “If homosexuality is an abomination, why didn’t it make the top ten list of sins?” Jesus would not dismiss me from his presence. He saw the beauty in everyone. Look who Jesus hung out with: tax collectors and prostitutes. He never discriminated against anyone. His message was to treat others with respect, not to pass judgment on Earth. Jesus loved everyone. He died on the cross for everyone — not just for straight people, but for all people. Some Christians try to exclude some groups from the blood of Christ, but Jesus didn’t. No, he died for all of us. During tough times, I held onto that. The Bible says in Leviticus 18: 22 that it’s unnatural for a man to lie with a man. God created me—you, all people—in his image. I am not a mistake. God doesn’t make mistakes. My own belief is that if God doesn’t make mistakes and God made me gay — I was born gay — it would be unnatural for me to lie with a woman. Since God created me gay—with a desire to be intimate with men — it is natural for me to lie with a man. It bothers me that people are selective in their scripture readings. They only pick the passages they want to use for their own purposes. If you’re going to read one passage, you’ve got to read them all. If you’re going to read Leviticus 18: 22, you’ve got to read the whole book, which says, among other things, that “Whenever a woman has a discharge and the discharge from her body is of blood, she will remain in a state of menstrual pollution for seven days. Anyone who touches her will be unclean until evening.” (Leviticus 15: 19–20, New Jerusalem Bible) Are you going to cast out your wife when she has her period? We have to consider the context and use common sense.

Some people blame gay men for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but there were also men raping women and other sins taking place there. God destroyed the people in those cities for doing evil. A lot of people are stuck on men raping the angels, but the place was long gone before the angels arrived.Critics view homosexuals as a group. If a man goes on a shooting binge, you don’t read in the paper that a heterosexual man went on a shooting binge. But if a homosexual man molests a child, you read that a “gay man” molested a child. There are bad homosexuals just like there are bad heterosexuals. Please don’t judge us as a group. I don’t understand how religious people can read the Bible and know that there’s only one judge, yet take the responsibility for being that judge. They condemn all homosexuals simply because of the way we are created. I see a little lesbian girl or gay boy listening and becoming afraid like I was, believing there is something wrong with them. These people tell these gay kids that there is no place in this world or God’s kingdom for them. It breaks my heart to hear that. I cannot imagine that God would hate anyone. Remember, Jesus shed his blood for all of us. I want the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people who have turned their back on God to return to their faith. Ignore the misinformed people; don’t ignore God. When I speak at colleges, I want to make sure that those who hear me know God loves them. I speak out of my Christian faith, but I tell them, “Whether you are a Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, or whatever, hold onto your faith. Religion is supposed to bring comfort and joy to your life. It’s not supposed to scare the Hell out of you.” Religion involves a personal relationship between you and God. People can give you advice, criticize you, say what they want, but in the end, when you stand before God on Judgment Day, you’ll stand alone. We each need to decide for ourselves what we believe and live out that faith. People ask me, “How can you believe in God after all of the negative things you’ve heard in church and bible studies about homosexuality?” I know those negative things others have said don’t come from God. I still believe because God has always been there for me. If it weren’t for God, I would be six feet under. My faith has made me explore the Bible even more. I found out God loves me the way He created me. I’ve held onto that love. That’s all you need.I don’t want to come across as holier than thou. I’m not perfect; no one is. I’ve got skeletons in my closet. We all have our weaknesses. We all fall short of God’s glory because we’re all human. I’m not an expert, and I don’t claim to be a scholar, but I know the Bible and what I believe. I simply want to spread the word about God’s true love the way the book of Wisdom describes it: “Yes, you love everything that exists, and nothing that you have made disgusts you, since, if you had hated something, you would not have made it.” (Wisdom 11:24, New Jerusalem Bible)

These thoughts were not as clear in my mind the day after I attended the CFC bible study. I was feeling wiped out and adrift. After practice, I went over to [teammate] Don Davey’s house. Mitchell wasn’t there to comfort me in person, but Don and his wife were. I told them about the bible study and how I couldn’t accept that my brother was an abomination. They were very supportive and sympathetic.

I talked to Mitchell again on the phone. He told me he would stay in the relationship if I would. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he had called it quits after the way I had treated him. I think he believed that deep down I was a good man. Even when I treated him horribly, he believed that good man would again show himself. I tell people that Mitchell is the strongest man I know. I put him through a lot of crap, but he stayed with me. That night could have destroyed us, but instead, we took an important step forward.

From "Alone in the Trenches: My Life as a Gay Man in the NFL"

Options: ReplyQuote
Former Champion for Christ , MorningStar, Victory Campus Min
Posted by: ExCult ()
Date: August 01, 2006 10:14AM


Three months after becoming a Christian, I began V.L.I. By the 2nd year of VLI, I was becoming more and more involved in ministry at my church: nursery work, hospitality committee, choir helper, babysitter, greeter, servant evangelism name it; I did it. I was very involved in campus ministry at a local university, and it was during this time
that I left my corporate job and began to work for MorningStar in an administrative capacity, taking a substantial pay cut by doing so. But, everything I was doing "was as unto the Lord", so I plodded along. It was during this tenure at the Mstar offices that I became acquainted with many pastors and their families. I know personally almost every heavy-hitter in this ministry. I've been given keys to their homes...I knew them well, and I trusted them all, implicitly. More and more I was babysitting, tutoring the children who were home schooled, and cleaning houses (for free, mind you) for these leaders. Unfortunately, I never stopped long enough to realize what was actually happening, I just thought, "Wow!!! I'm helping to advance God's Kingdom through church planting, campus ministry, and world missions...hallelujah!!!" After breaking-off a "courtship" (gag) with a pastor, I was asked to go serve God abroad, and move overseas with one of my pastors and hisfamily, because he & his wife were involved in a church plant, and God had "told" both of them that I was to go with them. Excited at the opportunity to live with a pastor's family and have discipleship on a daily basis, and to serve God in a powerful way, I sold EVERYTHING that I owned, and moved, never expecting to return to the States again.

Upon my arrival in my new country, I was expectant and elated to see what all God was going to do with me and through me to reach young people. I'd enrolled in a local university, and was so excited to begin ministering on the campus again. How excited I was!!! Also, I was going to be the administrator for our new church, and I was going to work along side my pastor's wife as she home schooled her children. I thought I was in Heaven!!! BOY, WAS I WRONG!!! Shortly after arriving, the work began. At first, it was manageable...assisting with the laundry, assisting with the home schooling, assisting with the cooking, assisting with the housecleaning. But, not long after, it became abundantly clear I was in a position ofindentured servitude. I say this not with sarcasm, but literally. I received what would be in U.S. dollars $450 a month (That works out to about $1.55/hr. U.S.D.). You may say that's fair considering I was getting free room and board. However, my work days began at 7 a.m.,when I had to prepare breakfast for the family (by myself). Then I'd clean the dishes (by myself). And then the wife would begin to home school, and I was expected to observe and assist her, all while having to do the laundry (which was an arduous task in those Barbie-sized washing machines where we lived). Then, I'd have to hang the laundry outside. By this time, it was time to make lunch! Usually, at thistime, the pastor and his wife left the house to "minister". To whom or for what reason, I STILL do not know. So, here I am in this 5,000 square foot house, dusting, mopping, vacuuming, changing sheets, home schooling, doing administrative work, picking beans in the garden for dinner, getting the children bathed, baking cookies; and around 11 p.m... sleep. But I just trudged along, thinking that I'm doing all of this as untothe Lord, because this is the line I was being fed. When standing outside the pastor's bedroom window on a narrow precipice 20 feet abovethe ground (and I'm TERRIFIED of high, open places), scraping bird-poopoff the window because the pastor's wife told me, "Pastor X wants an unobstructed view of the meadow when he wakes up in the morning," I thought, I'm scraping poop for the glory of God! When I had to clean vomit out of the bathroom where a visitor had thrown up,or clean animal refuse off the floor where one of their menagerie of pets had an accident inside, I thought, I'm doing this as unto the Lord.

It was during this time that the subtle, insidious manipulations began from my pastor's wife. I used to joke that I was a member of the Rebuke of the Day Club...but it wasn't far from the truth. Each day, there was something about my character that she attacked. If I didn't ask EACH of the children what they wanted for breakfast, but just made everyone the same thing, I was told, "Where the spirit of assumption is, there is
much strife". When the pastor's wife would call me at 5 p.m., informing me that they would be having guests for dinner, and that I needed to thaw a turkey, and make a cheesecake from scratch by 7 p.m., I was told that "Blessed are they who can bend, for they shall not be broken."
When I made the mistake of wearing open-toed sandals with my pants-suit to church, I was told that I had the spirit of a harlot, because my
shoes were "Honeymoon Shoes", and should only be worn for my husband (?!!!). When I laughed, because I thought she was joking, she stopped the car, ran the back side of her hand across her mouth and said, "The Harlot wipes her mouth and says, 'I have not sinned' ." I'm not
kidding, folks...but it gets better... Several times, when she was not happy with how I performed one of my duties, there was the need for me to "fast and pray until God revealed the sin in my heart". Keep in mind I'm cooking three, from-scratch meals a day for these people, and I like to eat. These 2 to 3 days of fasting were followed with a "Hootah Session" where I was forced to confess to having demons I'd never even heard of. But, I figured these where my pastors, my spiritual authority, and I had to submit to them because they were more knowledgeable about these things than I was, and I didn't want a demon!

This went on for over a year, and then one day, for no apparent reason, I had a "meeting" with the pastor and his wife. Apparently the "Lord" had told them that I needed to go home to minister to my family. I was told I was going back to the U.S. in less than a month. That's warning, no explanation. For over a year, I broke my back for these people and their obese, over-indulged children, and that's the kick in the teeth I received. When they came to the states for a visit several months later, I left three messages at their hotel, just to say hello, and never heard back from them. And that was that...

This is a ministry of manipulation, coercion, and usury. These self-appointed apostles operate under the guise of spiritual authority and they extract all the good from you that they can, and then they're done with you. To me, THAT is the spirit of harlotry, not wearing sandals or showing a little cleavage. That's the TRUE spirit of seduction, because you're seduced into thinking that you are valuable to God, and the building of His Kingdom, and that you can prove that by serving those in authority over you. If we all speak up and keep exposing the lies and corruption we've witnessed first hand, we will help other people know that they are NOT ALONE!!! We know the TRUTH, and that is what will set us free!!! We were DUPED!!! If this was in the "world", these leaders would be sent to prison for FRAUD. However, I know that in my heart, I really WAS doing everything as unto the Lord, and I bet many of you out there were, too. We were just too naive and trusting to know otherwise. We were as harmless as lambs, but dumb as rocks. But IT'S A NEW DAY, PEOPLE!!! We are now wise to their errant ways, and we are filled with righteous indignation.

Options: ReplyQuote
Former Champion for Christ , MorningStar, Victory Campus Min
Posted by: ExCult ()
Date: August 01, 2006 10:20AM

Well, this is my story about leaving EN. I certainly didn't suffer the extreme abuse some people here did. Mine is more a story of ignorance and rudeness. It's long, so feel free not to read.

As crazy as this may sound, probably the biggest thing that drew me into Every Nation was the fact that I would be given a discipler. I thought that "discipler" was simply a Christianese term for "mentor", and for many years I had deeply longed to be friends with an older, wiser Christian woman whom I could talk my spiritual questions and problems over with. In retrospect, I think that what I really wanted was a mother figure, but at that time I was not ready to consciously admit that my own mother was kind of a jerk.

Before I joined I talked to one of my friends, who had himself recently joined, about some of my questions regarding EN. Specifically, I wanted to make sure that the discipleship relationship would not be controlling. He assured me that I would not be forced to do anything--that discipleship relationships were grounded in love. I also talked things over with a female acquaintance who had been there for some time (I'm not sure how long--a couple years maybe). She told me that my discipler would probably end up being the wife of our campus pastor.

Instead, however, I got placed with our pastor's wife's chief disciple, a girl who was only a couple years older than I was. I was displeased because I did not think it was realistically possible for someone of her age to spiritually mentor a person of my age who had been a Christian her whole life and had spent that entire time actively seeking Christ and trying to live in a Christian manner. I also had little respect for my discipler as a person--she was a preppy girl who, while well-intentioned, was, for lack of a better word, a fool.

But I had been accused for much of my life of being proud. So, when confronted with a wholly unacceptable "discipler" I decided to submit because I thought that God, knowing I was proud, would choose to make my discipler someone I did not respect in order to test and humble me.

The girl, however, was every bit as incompetent as I expected her to be. I am a deeply thoughtful, introvert, while she was an extroverted people-person. She had no frame of reference to even begin to understand me. I sat across the table from her and talked about some of the smallest things I was struggling with, and when I looked into her eyes I saw a look of blind panic. She had no idea how to counsel me and, invariably ended up spouting platitudes and clichés.

A month or two after she started discipling me, I went to our campus pastor's wife and told her that things were not working out. I said, "[blank] is a very nice girl. She seems to have a genuine heart after God, and is very anxious to serve and be helpful. The problem is, even though she wants to help, she's not very mature, which causes her to make mistakes and sometimes be very unhelpful."

My pastor's wife brushed off my complaint saying, "You describe her very much as she was two years ago, but that is not the girl I know now."

Of course, I had barely known my discipler two years previously, during which we had had about two conversations--no more. My pastor's wife admitted my description of my discipler was accurate; if she had been wise she would have realized it had to be a current picture because I didn't possess the knowledge to describe my discipler as she was two years previous.

My pastor's wife told me that my discipler was the one God had told her to put me with, so she wanted me to give it another try. I found out later that my discipler had also gone to our pastor's wife about the problems with our relationship. It seems to me that if both the disciple and the discipler see deep problems in their relationship maybe God didn't really intend them for each other.

I met with my discipler one or two more times after that; I don't think it was more than that. I strongly suspect she was terrified of me, because she kept finding excuses to put off our meeting…which was more than acceptable to me. I did not want to meet with her, I did not want to talk to her, I found the very thought of her oppressive. I could barely bring myself to look at her when we met at church or prayer meeting. The idea of having her as my discipler was so wrong I couldn't bear it.

About four months passed in which we did not have a single meeting. We did have one encounter, however. There was some big EN women's conference all the women from the church were going to. I was there also, but I had a very bad cold and felt completely miserable. The speakers ran long and the program was not followed precisely, which, when added to my cold, ended up agitating me so much that I left the conference room and stood by myself in the hallway outside. When break finally came my discipler walked over to me and asked me how I felt. I had kept myself under control all day and at her question all my pent up frustration burst out in a less than pleasant manner. What I needed at that point was just to be hugged and told that I was cared for and everything was going to work out. Instead, my discipler read me the riot act and told me that if I was not going to behave myself I should go home, because she was not going to let me ruin the conference for the other girls. Forget the fact that the only reason I had said anything was because she had asked me what I was feeling--apparently, she didn't know how to deal with an honest answer.

I returned to the conference room in a complete daze. Her words had been like a sucker punch, completely unexpected and incredibly painful. But, literally less than a minute after I had left her, a girl I knew slightly walked up to me and said she had a Word for me. This girl told me that God wanted me to know that He loved me, and that I had come to the conference in faith, and that I was going to become the strong, Godly woman He knew I desired to become.

This cheered me up immensely, but it basically destroyed any vestiges of respect I might have had for my discipler. She was supposed to be my spiritual teacher--the person most concerned with my spiritual health--but her words had been the exact opposite of God's words to me.

After the conference, things reached a head in my spirit. It was actually in the middle of one of our crazy "prayer" meetings, when I was struck very forcefully by the thought "Things cannot go on as they are."

Later that night or the next day I emailed my discipler. I completely don't remember what I said, other than that I re-expressed my dissatisfaction with our relationship; however, I do remember that it required a timely response. She emailed me back and told me that she needed to "pray about some things" before she could respond. (Quite honestly, I think the "I need to pray about it" bit is a standard Christian way of sluffing off responsibility). Four days later I still hadn't heard back from her. So, I emailed our campus pastor's wife, told her what my problem was, and requested a meeting. She emailed me back and said she couldn't meet with me right then because she was busy raising MPD, which was basically the equivalent of saying, "I'm sorry, I can't minister to you now because I'm busy raising ministry support."

With my discipler and my pastor's wife refusing to speak to me, the only other person I could think to turn to was my VLI teacher, Leo Lawson. I sent him an email laying out all of the problems I was having with my discipler and asking for his assistance. He forwarded my email to Fred Bradford, the pastor in charge of handling that sort of stuff, but did not even extend me the courtesy of replying to my email and telling me he had forwarded it on. Fred Bradford didn't respond to me either, telling me that he'd received my letter. It wasn't until I spoke to Leo after church about a week after writing to him that I found out what had happened. I had to approach Fred Bradford myself and ask for a meeting, when, frankly, I think he ought to have scheduled one right after receiving my email.

The fact that Fred opened up our meeting by asking me to repeat in my own words, what I had said in my letter, makes me wonder how closely he had read my email. My email was as much my "own words" as anything I would say--more so, considering, I had carefully thought about what I had written. To be fair, Fred treated me nicely. He listened to me and didn't seem to discount what I said. He told me I was a sweet, very sincere person. Not everything he said was right, however. He seemed to think that a lot of my problems with my discipler came from unforgiveness (even though I had specifically stressed in the email I had written that I was not angry with her and bore her no ill will), and told me that truly forgiving her would mean I would be willing to go back to her and be discipled by her again, if that was God's will. I told him I simply wasn't willing to be discipled by her.

In the end, I got what I wanted; I didn't have to stay with my discipler and, although he couldn't think of anyone else to put me with at the moment, he would keep me and my situation in mind. Let me stress, the meeting was *not* high pressure and Fred treated me very nicely and respectfully, but in spite of that, and in spite of the seemly good outcome, I left the meeting nearly hysterical. I cried during my entire 20 minute drive home and was so distraught I nearly hyperventilated (which in turn made me start to laugh even while I was crying because even though I had heard of people hyperventilating I had always been such a calm person I had never thought I would ever experience it personally.)

I cannot express how incredibly angry and frustrated I was by the entire way my situation was handled. Discipleship was one of the pillars of EN. You would think that if a member of their church is having difficulties with their discipler that problem should be dealt with immediately--it is, after all, a very important aspect of their church. But, at every turn, from my initial meeting with my pastor's wife through my final meeting with Fred Bradford, they displayed a complete lack of concern for and unwillingness to deal with my problems. It was so RUDE.

At any rate, I talked about my problems to a friend who was not a part of EN and she told me the church was obviously spiritually abusive and that I should leave, which is precisely what I did.

Though this might sound odd, one of the things that angers me most when I look back at my time in EN is how my discipler was treated. Yes, she was a complete fool, but she was a well-meaning fool and probably would have been quite nice outside the EN environment. She was completely unequipped to disciple me, and at least part of her knew that. She obviously didn't want to disciple me, and she should not have been forced to do so. I do hope she gets outs of EN sometime, and if she's reading this I hope she knows that when I used the word "fool" I meant it in the nicest possible way.

Options: ReplyQuote
Former Champion for Christ , MorningStar, Victory Campus Min
Posted by: ExCult ()
Date: August 01, 2006 10:26AM

My Spiritual Journey
by Steve Murrell
May 20, 2006

Lately, I've been thinking about my spiritual journey - how I got from there to here - wherever there and here are. What were the main influences that shaped my spiritual life? For better and for worse, here they are - the ministries and churches, the good and bad, the stuff I hope I learned and the stuff I hope I left behind.

ST. PHILLIPS EPISCOPAL CHURCH - Jackson, Mississippi. My spiritual journey begins.

THE GOOD - Unlike the contemporary casual atmosphere in most Evangelical and Charismatic churches, the Episcopal Church's gothic architecture, pipe organ, incense, candles, stained glass, ornate crosses, and costumes made church seem other-worldly, mysterious, and holy. I think that was a good thing.
THE BAD - Church seemed to be, at least from where I sat, a Sunday thing with no connection to Monday through Saturday.

FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (YOUTH GROUP) - Jackson, Mississippi. I was 16 and for the first time in my life I heard that salvation was by grace through faith, not by works through church affiliation. It took six months and a million questions, but I finally stopped running from God and received Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

THE GOOD - Small group discipleship that emphasized personal Bible study, devotional prayer, and sound (Reformed) theology. Almost every day since 1975, I thank God for Ron, the youth pastor who led me to the Lord and spent the next eighteen months teaching me how to live in order to please God.
THE BAD - Over-emphasis on Reformed theology, which was quite difficult to wrap my 16-year-old brain around. (It is not any easier on my 47-year-old brain today.)

NEW COVENANT CHURCH AND BETHEL - Jackson, Mississippi. A year after getting saved at the 1st Pres youth group, I was invited to my first Charismatic service at New Covenant. Wow, this was nothing like St. Phillips or 1st Pres! It was more like a concert, with electric guitars and drums. A few months later I discovered Bethel, a Saturday night worship gathering in the rough part of town led by former hippie-types. (Growing up on the other side of the tracks and having never done or even seen drugs, I was a bit of a misfit at Bethel, but the power and presence of God was irresistible.)

THE GOOD - Passionate, whole-hearted worship, and the emphasis on the presence of the Holy Spirit. Both of these charismatic ministries prayed for the sick at every meeting, and people actually got healed. New Covenant Church was connected with Ken Sumrall's Liberty Church, a "non-denomination" that was very "anti-discipleship." The preacher at Bethel was even more anti-discipleship. I really didn't get it, because discipleship was all over the New Testament and my small discipleship group at 1st Pres sure helped my fledgling faith. In a few years I would find out that the "discipleship" the NC and Bethel preachers were against was a completely different animal than the discipleship I experienced at 1st Pres. The 1st Pres version helped me follow Jesus. The other version tended to get people to depend on a human "shepherd," rather than the Lord.
THE BAD - The Charismatic emphasis in those days seemed to be on having an instant individual life-changing "experience" rather than on progressive growth through personal devotion and small group discipleship. I am thankful I was still involved in Ron's discipleship group at 1st Pres. I needed both - the big exciting Charismatic experience and the small group personal discipleship.

MARANATHA CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP - Starkville, Mississippi. My freshman year at Mississippi State University I got involved in a Charismatic campus ministry called Maranatha. Looking back I am glad I got saved and discipled in a traditional Presbyterian church, then added my Charismatic experience on top of a Reformed foundation. In those days, many who started out in Charismania never got around to getting proper theological foundations, and ended up with a strange mix of the weird, the mystical, and the heretical.

THE GOOD - Through Maranatha I received a passion for world missions, I met some people who would become my best friends (including my wife), and I became convinced that God could use young people - that you don't have to wait until you are 40 to make a difference in the world.
THE BAD - While young people can be used by God, they can also make a mess of things because of their immaturity. In my opinion, there were three main flaws that caused Maranatha to self-destruct in 1989: theological mysticism, micro-managing controlling discipleship practices, and an authoritarian leadership style. In my post-Maranatha ministry, I have diligently and prayerfully tried to keep these three deadly viruses out of my life and ministry. (I must add a disclaimer here. While these three viruses were running rampant in the Maranatha bloodstream, I am thankful that our pastor in Starkville, Walter Walker, did his best to protect us from them. I never remember Walter being a micro-manager or a control freak like many Maranatha leaders. Also, in my experience, Walter was not an authoritarian leader nor did he espouse strange theology. Of course, mixing my Reformed roots with Walter's Methodist worldview led to some interesting debates.)

VICTORY CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP - Manila, Philippines. My wife and I first came to the Philippines in 1984 with Maranatha. In 1989, when Maranatha's board dissolved itself, we never considered "going home" because we felt God, not Maranatha, had called us here. Though Maranatha was gone, God was still in charge. We immediately changed the name of our church to Victory, and from that moment on people no longer confused us with the Maharishis or the Mormons.

THE GOOD - I learned during this time that friendships and callings transcend ministry affiliations, ministry mistakes, and ministry implosions.
THE BAD - Now that my missionary sending agency (Maranatha) no longer existed, I found myself in the uncomfortable situation of being an independent missionary with no affiliation, no accountability, and no "home church." I knew this was not a healthy situation. (So, I asked a few old friends including Rice Broocks, Ron Lewis, Greg Ball, and Bradley White to serve as my accountability board. They all agreed. God also connected me with two others who became dear friends and helped me tremendously during this time: Emmanuele Cannistraci and Dan Hall.)

MORNING STAR INTERNATIONAL/EVERY NATION CHURCHES AND MINISTRIES - Manila, Philippines. In 1994 Rice and Phil Bonasso were visiting me in Manila on their way to minister in Singapore and Malaysia. One night at my house, while discussing some mission opportunities, we felt God leading us to join our ministries together for the purpose of church planting, world missions, and campus ministry. We did and MSI, now Every Nation, was born.

Options: ReplyQuote
Former Champion for Christ , MorningStar, Victory Campus Min
Posted by: ExCult ()
Date: August 09, 2006 09:43PM

I have been repeatedly and fiercely attacked times by very strong
spirits from former board members of Maranatha Campus Ministries:

The first time was during a period when I was convinced that there was
widespread, unconfessed sexual immorality within Maranatha. I was
sitting in my apartment when a demon from Alan Tomlin, then pastor of the
Austin Maranatha, attacked me. A few seconds later, 3 elders showed up
outside my door and pounded for a long time. Several years later, I
was meditating on the period surrounding my departure from Maranatha.
Although I had long since concluded that most of what I suspected during
that period was not accurate, I realized while I was meditating that I
was still under blindness leftover from that period. This was not a
realization of what the blindness was, just its existence. I heard a
demonic reaction that I had not experienced before: "He's on to us.
We're going to have to do something about this." A few seconds later I was
attacked with the same spirit that attacked Alan's wife Georgia a few
years before I left Maranatha. I have been attacked periodically by
this same spirit since. On one occasion, I ended up in the hospital with
chronic vomiting. On another occasion, I was baffled that deceiving
spirits were still harassing me even after I realized I was in deception
during that period. So confessed and repented of opening myself to
this deception and petitioned God for an end to the harassment. The next
morning, I was awakening wide awake at 3 o'clock. A few minutes later,
I ran to the bathroom and almost vomited. I rebuked it and rebuked it
and rebuked it. I was finally able to go back to bed. Waking up from
surgery on yet another occasion, I was attacked by a different spirit,
one from both Alan and Georgia.

Although I had not talked to him in a long time, Rice Broocks crashed
into one of my dreams several years ago. The interpretation of the
dream was that he was making strong demands on the spirit world in an
effort to make some sort of comeback in his ministry. When I asked him
about this, he preceded to tell me off. Starting with, "You don't have the
slightest idea what's going on with me in my walk with Christ," he
carried on at some length. I discovered later that he started Morning Star
only a year before this dream. Several months later, I was fiercely
attacked with temptation to react to his arrogant spiel the same way he
reacted to my question. The attack was so strong that I could hardly
concentrate for several days. It turned out that the same week of this
attack, Benny Hinn was in Nashville, where Rice is based. After the
Champions for Christ episode, Rice crashed into my dreams again. This
time, the interpretation was that he was trying to disassociate himself in
some way from Greg Ball. Even before I left Maranatha, there was a
similar episode in which I was attacked in my sleep by a spirit from both
Rice and Greg, and woke up coughing.


Options: ReplyQuote
Former Champion for Christ , MorningStar, Victory Campus Min
Posted by: ExCult ()
Date: August 09, 2006 09:48PM


As I had mentioned earlier the circumstances of my entering MCM meant that my finances were rapidly deteriorating. This deterioration was due to the loss of my frat job. This deterioration came to a head because of MLTS. MLTS was the Maranatha Leadership Training School. The mention of MLTS at a MCM locale was like mentioning the words “Christmas Morning” to my seven year old twins. Everyone would get excited talking about how “awesome” (another special language word that was used routinely - awesome meant “approved, wonderful and of God”) MLTS was. There was a lot of discussion about who the speakers would be at MLTS - in similar terms that people “in the world” reserved for Rock Stars. "Would it be Winkney Pratney, Larry Tomczak, Don Northrup etc. speaking ???" When people spoke of these guys you got the feeling that Elijah himself would bring them to MLTS on a chariot of fire. “What would the message that be the anointed men of God would give?”
“Boy they were awesome last time; wanna listen to a tape with me.” “God moved in a mighty way at MLTS last spring didn’t He?” That kind of talk. The very kind of thing that Jesus warned us against- the kind of man adulation that has warped the western world in the last century or so.

Now, MLTS was very important for MCM for four reasons - only one of which I grasped (but not in totality as I will show):

The first reason was that MLTS was so important to MCM was that it gave the upper echelon of MCM, Bob Weiner, Joe Smith, Bob Nolte etc a chance to interact with the differing “flocks” and ensured that the Pastors of these “flocks”, and the sheep, were toeing the "company line". MLTS acted as a “thermometer” gauge on my own and other individual sheep’s commitment. Failing to attend MLTS was considered a “red flag” and a sheep could be assured of getting some Godly counsel pretty quickly for failing to attend.

The second reason that MLTS was of importance to Maranatha Ministries was that it allowed the leadership to continue to bombard the flock with the “messages” of the end time and from God, to set the “general direction” (which BTW would zig - zag crazily over five years). I grasped that we were getting an “anointed message” from the Lord and this seemed the only reason for the importance of MLTS to me at the time.

The third reason MLTS was important is that it kept in place the feedback loop from the “flock” to the leadership and back that reinforced the charismatic authority of the collective leadership. (Please note: I am not using the word “charismatic” in the Pentecostal sense but in the sociological sense). Many studies of sociological cults have shown that the “charisma” of a leader, or a group of select leaders, does NOT RESIDE IN THE LEADER(S) themselves but in the feedback loop between the leader and the followers. We tend to think of Charismatic Leaders as good looking or eloquent speakers or very outgoing. Frequently Charismatic Leaders do have these qualities- but it is NOT the source of their standing and power as a Charismatic Leader in a sociological cult. [This idea is more fully explored by Janja Lalich in her book "Bounded Choice True Believers and Charismatic Cults"]. For example, Bob was not particularly good looking, nor was he was physically imposing, and there were “better stump speakers” in MCM than Bob (although Bob was a particularly good speaker). The source of Bob’s power as a Charismatic Leader really resided in his unflinching (and if you spent any time with him, his irritating) hyperactivity and his ability to deliver results laid out in the grand vision and scheme he set for his followers. We could consider these behavior traits as the “engine” that drove Bob’s charismatic authority. The “fuel” for this "engine" was the affirmation and praise from Maranatha devotees that reinforced Bob’s own feeling of specialness (that called for a devine special purpose as an apostle for the end times). This ability to deliver the results plus his own demonstrated conviction of his specialness in turn reinforced the member's feeling that Bob WAS anointed of God and the leader of our “special” mission, which in turn, reinforced Bob’s own feeling of specialness and so forth. This is how the feedback loop worked - the Leader demonstrating the ability to set the vision and make it a reality, the followers working to make the vision a reality and in turn reinforcing the leader. Compounding and mulitplying this reinforcement loop this was Bob's narcissistic personality- the fact that he acted like everything and everyone revolved around his special mission and were there to serve him and the mission. Bob’s grand scheme, in the late 70s (this would change over time), was to evangelize the world before Christ returned (hence the name Maranatha). And he evidenced his ability make that evangelization a "reality" to his followers. From my own personal perspective I can tell you that I was repeatedly “blown away” when I saw the results of his preaching, especially during my first two years in the movement. The first time I saw him in action at my frat house was an example of the results he produced in me, for example, in setting up the feedback loop required for Bob to take the role of a charismatic leader. Let me give you an illustration of how this feedback loop of reinforment worked and how the Charismatic Leader ( in this case Bob) was very much dependent on his/her flock for this power. For example if Bob Weiner stood in a room by himself and preached he would not be Charismatic Leader. And if he was in a room of four people he probably NOT be seen as a “Charismatic Leader by the group.” However, put him with 200 people, a 100 of which are telling the other 100 how “awesome” he is, let him give a rousing emotional service, with the “amening”, clapping, and shouts of praise from the crowd during his speech, let him evidence success in the cause that he is leading the group in (performing miracles, converting people, baptizing people, opening new ministries) and suddenly he IS a Charismatic Leader from his view and from the perspective of his followers. Let this happen month after month and year after year and combine it with a narcissistic personality and voila! a classic authoritarian Charismatic Leader is created. The same was true of Joe Smith who was also a classic Charismatic Leader- he promised miracles and prophesies, everyone (by that I mean the members who came to Auburn to plant the ministry) at MCM told me about the signs and wonders that Joe performed, then he performed them, and he prophesied directly to almost everyone at Auburn- seemingly saying things that only God could say. So MLTS allowed Bob and others to keep that feedback loop going with the entire ministry.

A quick detour from the MLTS discussion: When I saw the Bob's true viscious behavior and my eyes were opened to what was really going on I, through the grace of God, got out as quickly as I could. I am convinced that Greg, Phil, Rice and others thought "If we can get rid of Bob then we will be free to do as we want without his interference." Additionally I believe that they were convinced that if Bob (who btw was not as skilled a speaker as these guys and had organizational issues) could achieve a certain level of success at MCM they could achieve much much more. I can not be certain of this conclusion I will admit. I don't believe that they ever had a problem with what Bob was doing, their concern was the threat that he constantly posed to every full-timer with MCM and the manner in which he exercised power. They saw him as a "bad king", they did not see the monarhcy as a bad thing, so to speak. I believe that this is reflected in the current structure of EN.

Now back to MLTS: This additional feedback loop that MLTS provided reinforced their Charismatic Leadership qualities that were so important to maintaining the vision of MCM and maintaining strict control over the pastors and the flock. An additional reinforcement of this Charismatic Leadership authority at MLTS was the procession of “anointed” and “well regarded leaders’ from “outside” MCM who would compliment Bob and others as being on the leading edge of what God was doing. These outside leaders at MCM also reinforced our “specialness” as part of the "latter day"movement. They would comment on how “blessed” we all were to be “under Bob and Joe "and others. Later some of these key leaders, when confronted with the “reality” of Bob and MCM would repudiate this endorsement. But that would come much later. Don Northrup was one such person who became especially angry in the mid 80s with how Joe and Bob had abused his trust. I saw Don years afterwards before he passed away and his association with MCM was one of the true regrets of his life.

The fourth and final reason that MLTS was important to MCM, that I did not understand for a long time, was for financial reasons. And finances were second only to power for the people at the top of MLTS. MLTS generated lots of cash. Uing my estimates MLTS generated well over 50% of MCM “net profits” in the late 70s and early 80s using my own estimates and proforma profit & loss statements. At this point in 1978, if my memory serves me, Maranatha had about 3,000 members. And each of the members were “required” to go to MLTS. Theoretically it was “voluntary” but I cannot recall of anyone being “allowed” to miss a MLTS. I will explore this in a moment. Registration at MLTS cost about $ 50/person. That would be the equivalent, in 2006 dollars to roughly $ 150. MTLS at that point was held every four months. Or three times per year. Eventually MLTS would move to an every six month schedule, but fees would go up. With 3000 members paying $ 150 (in 2006 dollars) - every MLTs kicked out $ 450,000 (2006 equivalents) every four months or about $ 1,350,00/year in 2006 dollars. This apparently represented a HUGE cash and profit generator for Maranatha. Add on the cut of books and tapes and other “impulse purchases” that occurred and Maranatha had to be generating, in 2006 dollars, in excess of $ 1,500,000/year. This in turn made MCM an estimated net profit, AFTER all expenses including speaking fees paid to MCM leaders, of over $ 1,000,000 using these estimates. I believe that understanding the “business model” is one of the keys to understanding how Phil- Rice- Steve and others eventually structured EN. And these future EN leaders were apparently quick to understand how big these profits fits could be. I believe that this was the golden chain that attracted the future leaders of EN- who would make that million dollar number look like chump change. So if we looked at MCM’s finances it was MLTS that made the profits and paid the way for Bob and Joe and their vision that eventually became one of “taking over the world” in a theosophic way.To reiterate, in terms of a “business model”, MCM hosted Christian Seminars. They made money off of the registration fees, the tapes, and books, and rebates from the travel agencies that set up bookings. In order to cover their costs and “fill” the seminars MCM needed a ‘ready made” and reliable group of attendees that were guaranteed to show up and pay the costs and eliminated most of the risk. (this is important since the risks in promoting holding seminars is that you have to gtd. A large meeting space, block hotel rooms with gtds, and the ability to cover the production costs of tapes and books that are to be sold). MCM had a “cannot lose” money maker in MLTS as long as they could keep the number of members up, control them so that they “wanted to” or “had to attend” through promises of glory, of being part of the end time and fear of being labeled as someone not committed.

There were, however some fatal weaknesses in this structure and I will explore these more fully in Chapter 3 including: 1- the fixed costs associated with these seminars and 2) the real dependence of the leadership of MCM on the pastors to stay on the reservation and provide an ever growing number of members. And finally: 3)As Joe and Bob would find out, their "MCM seminar scheme" had no real legal authority over the pastors who might grow tired of the bullying and pressure. And if this happened the business model of seminars would go "upside down" as we say, very quickly. MCM had to have MLTS- for the profits for MCM were certainly not with the “struggling” campus ministries that depended on the tithes and offerings of students and a few others. MCM was dependent on MLTS for funding and for any disruption to MLTS would quickly crater their cash starved enterprise.

Don’t get the idea though the MCM did not squeeze every nickel beyond MLTS from these poor students. The tithes and offerings covered staff overhead and such. The campus ministries themselves barely broke even with tithes just covering pastor’s salaries and the “houses and meeting places” being funded by rents charged to the single brothers.

Bob, I believe, was making about $ 18,000 in “salary” plus expenses from MCM, including housing in, 1980 at least. This came to about $ 28,000 a year total. In 2006 dollars this would equal about $ 70,000. Well within reason for a minister's salary, you might say, in fact very humble and modest for the leader of a national campus ministry (however, to put it in perspective Billy Graham draws a salary of $ 90,000, his son Franklin draws $ 110,000 and the late Bill Bright of CCC drew a maximum salary of $ 120,000). But wait, there was more to Bob’s income if my estimates are correct: 1. MLTS speakers fees generated another $ 35,000 for Bob (in 2006 dollars) taking his salary up to $ 106,000 using my estimates. 2. Not only that Bob authored sold, including Red, Orange, Green and Blue versions, about 6,000, studies per year- netting what I estimate to be $ 3.00 in income per copy. That yielded $ 18,000 or about $ 45,000 in 2006 dollars bringing his income to about $ 151,000/year with these estimates. These "studies" were more or less required and mandatory for ALL MCM members. A member could NOT AVOID Buying at least two per year. 3. Additionally Bob, using my estimates, received other income from outside speaking engagements, about 10-15 a year (based on my recollections) that had to total about $ 40,000-50,000 per year in dollars. 4. Total take by Bob as leader of a campus ministry- about $ 200,000 per year in 2006 dollars using my estimates which I believe to be in the "ball park." But if you asked Bob, and I heard this asked of him he would reply “Oh I earn $ 17,000 ($ 27,000 in today’s dollars) a year from the ministry." But he really received, based on my analysis, which I believe to be extremely conservative, over $ 200,000 per year in 2006 dollars. He was being dishonest about his income at the very least if this is true. So what you might ask? It sounds like he earned it you might say. Maybe so- but this was done on the “backs” of college students and “working stiffs”. I cannot imagine that the average income of the MCM “member” in 2006 dollars could have been north of $ 30,000 at that time. I will discuss later on the incessant fund-raising, car washes and special offerings that went to God knows where and for what purpose. Contrasting what Bob earned to what his counterparts earned at Campus Crusade for Christ it sure seems shameful. Of course it pales in comparison to what the leaders at EN apparently earn annually, which in my opinion borders on criminal! But I will not mislead you- Bob was NOT in it for the money. He loved the money but more than that he loved the power, the control and being at the center of attention. The money was a means to the end.

Back to my point. My first run in with “the choice boundaries” at MCM occurred because of MLTS. And what a contrast it was between my financial situation, the “typical MCM green beret”, and Bob Weiner’s financial situation. From my standpoint, despite my excitement about going to MLTS, and all of the “buzz “around it, there were two fundamental reasons that I had “decided” NOT to go to MLTS. The first reason was because I could NOT afford it. I now had to pay rent and board to Maranatha (and although it was cheap it was more than the zero amount I had been paying the frat) and because I had “decided” to start paying a portion of my savings to MCM as an offering, after the counsel I had received from Mike Godwin. The math was simple: there were seven months of school left, I had about $ 600 dollars in the bank- and I had to pay MCM about $ 180/month in room and board. If I did not get a job and watch my expenses I could see that I would quickly run out of money. MLTS cost a $ 50 registration fee, plus two nights of hotels (roughly $ 50), plus food costing another $ 15, plus some gas in a shared ride ($ 10) for a total cost of $ 125 or 20% of the money I had in the bank. This was the equivalent of about $ 350 in 2006 dollars. The second reason I had for not going was that my brothers and sisters had been planning a 50th birthday bash for my mother. It had been in the works for almost 9 months and they were expecting me to come. I had not yet realized that there were some things I could “decide” and many other things that were “decided” on my behalf. So I approached Mike Godwin about my “decision” not to attend MLTS after our discipleship session one morning. I said “Mike can we talk about MLTS?” He answered “Of course- you are going to be “blown away” MLTS is awesome!” “Well Mike, I have been thinking about it…and I don’t think I will be able to manage to go.” Mike said nothing for a moment and pushed his glasses back up to the perch on his nose. “Well Tik- tell me why you can’t go?” So I explained my financial situation and then about my Mom’s birthday etc etc. Mike pulled out his Bible and said “Tik, lets see what the Word says about this and he quoted Matthew: For I have come to turn "'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—“ “Tik you have made a decision to follow Jesus and this will bring you into conflict with your family- you will find yourself turning away from your family as you seek first the Kingdom of God. It is God’s will that you hear from his anointed - if you miss MLTS you may miss what God is saying in the end times.” Well- the Bible said that, but what about my finances. I could not see my way clear. “Tik” Mike said. “You are trusting in yourself and looking at your situation through worldly eyes. This is what Jesus said in Matthew “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” “Mike I understand that – but I am going to run out of money- look here is my bank book”I pulled it out and showed it to Mike. He reviewed it for a few minutes. “Brother, I am convinced that this conversation is of the Lord” he said. Now a conversation being “of the Lord” meant that God was speaking through the “elder” brother and that God himself had set the situation up and He was more or less giving specific direction to the “younger” brother. If you disobeyed the “elder” brother or shepherd you were disobeying God. “You are short of money- and you will need to bring some money in to pay your rent, to pay your tithes and to take care of Kingdom stuff” said Mike. “What stuff?” I wondered. Mike opened his Bible, “Here is what the Bible says about it “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." “Tik you are going to need to get a job so that you can eat and support yourself.” He was right of course. Frankly I was so caught up in the kingdom that I thought things would just work out. Mike continued, “And so you can see that God will work it out and therefore you can afford to go to MLTS.” Now some “outsiders” will probably not question the fact that I “had to get a job”. I had previously worked for the frat…so I would need to get a job, and that was that. But some reading this might also ask “But as a % of your savings and income attending MLTS costs a “whole bunch of money” for a starving college kid, why did you “have to go?” And you will note that Mike had never said “you must go to MLTS, there is no choice.” But my decisions were bounded and also reinforced by my own zeal and by the coercive environment set up by the leadership of MCM. I wanted to go to MLTS- but I knew I could not afford it. Heck I would have like to have had a car- but I was not going to buy one. BUT- if I refused to go to MLTS I would be showing a lack of faith in God to work my finances out, I would be showing my shepherd and others in MCM that “worldly cares” were more important than hearing God’s message from his anointed, I would be, in effect, a luke- warm Christian and would ruin my chances of being seen as a Green Beret an overcomer. My choice was, as I mentioned, were now bounded by the norms and standards of the group. I could choose who to ride with to MLTS, where to have lunch when there, how close attention I was going to pay to each speaker- but a decision to NOT attend MLTS was out of the question. To round this up attending MLTS was a must because for me as part of the flock because 1) It was the engine that financed MCM. No money no MCM. 2) If I failed to attend it would reflect badly on my shepherd, Mike Godwin. If enough people from Auburn did not attend then this would reflect badly on our pastor. Strict accounts were kept of who did and did not go. 3) It was important that I be exposed to the “message” from God’s anointed- both to reinforce the central theme of MCM and to continue the feeling of being part of a special thing “God’s Green Berets” and finally 4) It was in effect one of the “thermometers” used to measure my commitment to MCM. So in early November I headed up in a car with four other brothers to my first MLTS convinced that I would receive a “special message” from God. I sent my Mother a happy birthday card- and did not even get a phone call from her son that day.

Options: ReplyQuote
Former Champion for Christ , MorningStar, Victory Campus Min
Posted by: ExCult ()
Date: August 09, 2006 09:53PM


Sissy had asked me to attend this Bible study after our first date. I really did not want to attend a Bible Study (heck, I had read the entire Bible through three times and could vomit scripture out at will, as I have told you). The thought of going to a Bible study made me want to actually vomit at that point. But I would have walked on hot coals to spend another couple of hours with Sissy during the week…so I started going with her for that reason only. My mind was as open as a wall with regards to anything of the Bible. But God will have His way, won’t He? Despite my admonitions to “stay the hell out of my life” I would continue to learn that His will is irresistible and irrevocable. Might and power and majesty are His and I stand in awe of Him and His goodness. To Him be all glory and honor and power and riches and blessings to His name. Amen.

Well, it soon apparent to me that this Bible study was radically different from the MCM studies and sermons and the “fill in the blank” MCM gobble-ti-gook nonsense of the Red, Green, and Pink Books (yes Pink!) Book Studies that I had poisoned my mind with over a four year period. Every MCM study or sermon started with a “premise’, or a hypothesis (not that MCM would ever have used that term). One that supported the methods of MCM. That pretty much sums up the purposes of all the MCM studies and sermons. For example; the premise for a “Bible Study” or Sermon might have been (and was): “God has a perfect choice and you should let Him and his “Shepherds” pick out your mate.” Then the pastor, or the author of the study, would proceed to “glean” through the Bible gathering up every verse that might possibly support this premise and line them all up drawing one inexorably towards the conclusion that had been “predetermined” in the first place: “that dating sucks and only God can choose our mates and since we are not to be trusted we should submit to God and His representatives on earth our pastors and shepherds.” Every sermon, every study, every shepherding session started with this type of “predetermined premise” approach. One that reinforced MCM’s control and power over the rank and file. This method of preaching and studying is a close cousin to the “Topical Preaching” method that is rampant in the Mega Churches and large denominations today (I do not like topical sermons, and I will discuss why later) but with a dangerous twist to it. Topical Preaching simply expounds on what God’s Word “says” about a specific topic and involves, or should involve, looking at multiple scriptures throughout the Bible to see what the Bible says regarding the topic chosen(again I don’t like this approach but that is one reason Baskin Robbin’s ice cream, in the states, has more than one flavor). What MCM employed (and what I believe EN employs) is a method I term “Twisting and Bending” [with credit to Mary Alice Chrnalogar author of "Twisted Scriptures"]. “Twisting and Bending” is a subtle and dangerous way of handling the scripture in sermons and Bible Studies. Dangerous because it involves looking only at passages and individual scriptures that support the premise regardless of the context or what other scriptural texts on the subject might appear to say. It scours the Bible for any and all texts that support the premise. The teacher would “scour the Bible” looking for any and all passages that might possible support this predetermined premise. Any scriptures that might be “counter” to the premise, or, caution against the premise, were ignored and overlooked.

Well there ARE plenty of scriptures that could be interpreted to support the view that requires complete and total commitment to be a Christian…but if I could show you ONE passage that did NOT support this view, one example of someone believing in Jesus and going directly to heaven without doing a THING for Jesus, then this might give you, the adherent, pause before going “crazy” and driving a complete theological framework around this “premise.” One might only point out, for example, that the thief on the cross, an admitted sinner, died, soon after his conversation with Christ, and was in paradise. No confession of sin on his part, no hootah sessions, no nothing. The thief was a sinner one minute, asking Christ to take him the next, in paradise the next. One could, as I pointed out earlier, also look to the parable of the “late” worker who was rewarded just as those who had worked longer were. Sure there is room for argument here, of course,…my point is not that anyone accept the COUNTERVIEW view I just proposed to “radical commitment” to Jesus [using the thief or late workers]…but it is simply that ALL scripture should be weighed and considered that speaks on the Christian life and what it means to walk with Christ. But of course MCM insisted on this “Twisting and Bending" method only…and to compound this fundamental teaching error …anyone who did bring up a countervailing scripture or scriptures would quickly find themselves in a hootah session or worse.

Well the Bible study I went to with Sissy started with no premise. None. It was not about “Believing in miracles”, or “The Laws of God’s Prosperity”, or “Spiritual Warfare”, or “Claiming the Healing Power of Jesus’, or “Discipleship, God’s Way”. It was a premise free, topic free study. Let me correct that - it was a study whose topic was simply “The Book of Romans.” Now I when I started attending the group was going word by word, line by line, and verse by verse through Romans…and they were just starting on the 2nd Chapter after sixteen weekly one and a half hour studies. When Sissy told me all of this I could not have imagined anything more BORING. Nothing to get excited about, at all, from my perspective. I was merely hoping to maintain consciousness during the hour and a half study. I mean how many times had I heard, or (cringe) did I say, “Tonight God has an earth shattering important word on…well…Faith or Healing or Saving Souls or Giving or Demons etc etc etc. But a study on Romans????…just Romans…well is sounded like a bowl of day old oatmeal with no sugar in it to me.

Sissy brought an oversized parallel Bible with her (the kind that tracks KJV, NIV, NAS and RSV side by side) and something I had never seen before: something called “Young’s Literal Translation”, which was a word for word Greek to English translation of the NT. Now me?, well I brought one of those little green Gideon’s New Testament since my other Bible was moldering in the woods,; highlights, notes and all. I wonder if it is still there…in my parent's back yard…?

So we started in on the second chapter of Romans and spent one and half hour on the following: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” We looked up the Greek word for “therefore” and “excuse”, we looked up all potential English translations for them. We did the same for “judgment” and “someone”. We looked at probably twenty other scriptures around these words and concepts. We went back to Chapter 1 to see what the “there” was “therefore” (ha ha ha). We spent time discussing why Paul was writing the church in Rome, where he probably was at the time he wrote.

About 45 minutes into this thing I suddenly found that I was enjoying it. I mean we were “parsing’ the Word of God, examining it up and down, sideways and backwards…no premise…no huge points…we were letting the Bible Speak to us… just speak…no hushed tones then loud screams by the teacher, no hand gestures, no leaning forward when a huge point was made, no accusations, no condemnation, no band playing some emotionally laden song at the end of the study, no hootahing, no tears…just a pure and simple study of the Bible. Later we spent four weeks studying the “greetings” to and from the early Christians at the end of Romans, tracing Rufus and learning about his mother…it was one of the most exciting studies I had ever been through.

You see I was being exposed to expository teaching, exegesis, and Biblical hermeneutics for the first time. The expository method of Bible study and preaching seeks to present truths, concepts and principles directly from the Bible. Rather than imposing a “starting premise” or “meaning” on a passage…it seeks out the truth of scripture whatever it is speaking about. Exegesis involves determining the literal meaning of each word of scripture and the relationship to other words, and the context of the scripture (those verses and words immediately before and after). The other principles being used in this study was that of “hermeneutics” and “weight of the scripture”. This is simply trying to understand the proper interpretation of scripture using the exegesis, context and weight of all the scriptures to develop a view or interpretation rather than gathering disparate texts. [I don’t plan to get into the differing hermeneutic methods here].

Our teacher in the study used a very simple explanation for the way he was teaching. He said: “Suppose you walk into a room and two people are conversing and you hear one say “I hate it when you say that.” Now, you might, based on that one statement, come to a conclusion…being that the speaker “hates the other person” or what they are saying. But if you investigate the context of the conversation, look into the entire conversation, explore the relationship between the two people, look at how the words are used in relationship to each other. you might actually find out that the person who said “I hate it…”actually liked” what was being said, and was getting ready to laugh at a very, very funny joke.”

Well at that time I did not understand all of this, that is for certain. And I did not realize it during that first study I attended, nor the fifth, nor the tenth, but sometime during the next 12 months real faith began taking root in my heart. Not a faith that I “grasped” or tried to lay hold of or conjured up through an effort of will… but a faith that was growing without my effort, or perhaps, in SPITE of my efforts. For as I later learned faith comes…well not by trying…not be hootahing one’s way to God,…not by (sorry everyone) by praying in tongues…not by prophecy, or prophesying… not by interpretation of tongues…not from an earth “shattering message” from an “anointed man” of God…nor by deliverance from a bunch of non existent demons, but faith comes by…“Hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”

And for the first time in my life, I was simply sitting and studying the Word, not to learn how to get more souls for Jesus, or to become a “Mighty man of God" and a "CHAMP”, not to prove a point I already had in mind, or someone else had in mind, nor to impress my shepherd, nor to impress God, nor to get deliverance…but simply to study and “hear” the Bible “speak.” It truly was like drinking out of a clear and cool fountain on a hot and dusty day.

Options: ReplyQuote
Current Page: 7 of 14

Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
This forum powered by Phorum.