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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: jhorning ()
Date: December 29, 2010 09:35PM

My name is John Horning. I attended Coniah Chapel, Sepulveda, and Grace Chapel of Phoenix. I am no longer part of TLWF. I was booted out in 1984 when I voiced opposition to Gary and Marilyn's marriage. Anyone care to talk?

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: jhorning ()
Date: December 29, 2010 09:36PM

I knew Dan when he lived in Phoenix.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: jhorning ()
Date: December 30, 2010 03:19PM

My wife and I were out of "The Walk" in 1984. If you are reading this post and were in the LWF after 1984 can you tell me why it was important for Gary Hargrave to divorce his wife and marry Marilyn? If JRS passed the mantle to Gary and Marilyn before he died then why pray for his return? Did the LWF ever give a reason for all the divorces that took place? How did they explain why JRS never came back after having his return as a focus for the churches? I have asked different members who are still in the fellowship, but have never been given an answer.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: paleface ()
Date: January 02, 2011 01:37PM

John - There is much to be said. If you haven't seen it, I'd recommend reading the older archive posts in FactNet. Try these:

[www.factnet.org]

[www.factnet.org]

[www.factnet.org]

There is all sorts of stuff posted here. Some of it probably not true. You will have to filter it with your BS sniffer.
One thing for certain for most of us....
Leaving this harmful cult is a very disturbing experience. Many of us can attest to that. Professional help often helps.
I'm thinking you're probably doing great, however.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: jhorning ()
Date: January 03, 2011 01:07AM

Quote
paleface
John - There is much to be said. If you haven't seen it, I'd recommend reading the older archive posts in FactNet. Try these:

[www.factnet.org]

[www.factnet.org]

[www.factnet.org]

There is all sorts of stuff posted here. Some of it probably not true. You will have to filter it with your BS sniffer.
One thing for certain for most of us....
Leaving this harmful cult is a very disturbing experience. Many of us can attest to that. Professional help often helps.
I'm thinking you're probably doing great, however.

Thanks paleface. I have read the posts over at factnet and my "bs filter" came in handy. We are doing good: 38 years of marriage (this April), two wonderful grown children, an outstanding son-in-law, and two perfect grandchildren ; 0). We've had some health problems, but "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." (John Lennon). It's best to forgive and move on. Just curious to the behind the scenes happenings during that time. On a personal note; When I do talk to any of the people we love still in "The Walk" (different name, same-same) it's like we never stopped fellowshipping. The love we had for each other back then is still very much alive. The big difference, I don't have to do what Gary or Marylin say (Tongue firmly planted in cheek).

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: jhorning ()
Date: January 07, 2011 09:14AM

In the spirit of full disclosure I am going to post the responses I received concerning an earlier post. These came on Wednesday, January 5 via email. The email was sent buy Matt Walkoe, who is listed as a Pastor, Producer, Living Word Publications, and oversees the school located at the Church of the Living Word in North Hills. I've known Matt since the early to mid 70's (We first met in San Diego) and I ministered along side of him in the valley church before moving to Arizona. At the time Matt came to the valley John Gospodnetich and I were unofficially pastoring the church. Okay now back to his response. I don't believe there is any expectation of privacy when post are made on the internet or sent through an email. Anyway, my post will be reviewed by the administrator of this site before being made public.
My question I sent to Matt:
Can you give me a Biblical basis for the divorces that took place? The Word gives two reasons for divorce. Death of a spouse or when one spouse commits adultery. Was there that much infidelity going on back then? C'mon Matt, I remember ministering with you back in the day. You are better than that. Didn't anyone stand up and object to what was happening?

Matt's response:
As far as giving you a Biblical basis for the divorces that happened, I can’t. Divorce is sin and must be repented of. John wrote in his first epistle, “I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” People sin, they make mistakes, but if they repent God can forgive them and give them a new start. I don’t condone divorce, but neither do I hold it against someone who has truly repented and asked for forgiveness.


The Apostle John also wrote: "Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

Luke 17:3 "So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them."
My belief is this. Gary sinned by divorcing Donna in order to remarry and Gary and Marilyn continued to sin by telling others to divorce. He had this to say about his relationship to Gary and Marilyn:

"When John died I seriously considered leaving the Valley church because he was the one that commissioned me there. However, I had a very deep experience with the Lord and He gave my spirit to Marilyn. That’s very real to me. When people bring up these past issues about Marilyn or Gary, I feel like the man born blind in John 9. “Whether he is a sinner I do not know; one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” Gary and Marilyn have to answer to the Lord for any mistakes they may have made, but personally I’ve experienced a deeper and richer walk with God born out of my relationship and connection with them. I know that this isn’t real to everyone that sat under John’s ministry, and I understand that."

So Gary and Marilyn sinned and they MAY have made mistakes, but Gary has given me sight?

Colossians describes Christ in part this way: The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, He is before all things, and in him all things hold together, He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.
Please, can someone tell me why God, after sending His Son to die for us, would give Matt's spirit to Marilyn? To paraphrase Paul; Was Marilyn crucified for you? Was she raised from the dead?

Well, hopefully I'm done with this. I still have friends who are in TLWF and I'll continue to love them.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: tryingtohelp ()
Date: January 09, 2011 08:58AM

Hi, Can you give a bit more information on your paradigm shift? I know of someone that is struggling with the group and would like to get that person hooked up with people that could walk him through things. But I would like to know what you have come to believe, who God really is and what he is doing. Your post did not explaain that much. Are you in a new church? I like how you don't want to get mired in the past. Even though, for the person I speak about it isn't past yet. Thanks for any info.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: tryingtohelp ()
Date: January 10, 2011 08:54AM

This message is for David W. it's the first time I have done this so I hope I am doing it right....
Hi, Can you give a bit more information on your paradigm shift? I know of someone that is struggling with the group and would like to get that person hooked up with people that could walk him through things. But I would like to know what you have come to believe, who God really is and what he is doing. Your post did not explaain that much. Are you in a new church? I like how you don't want to get mired in the past. Even though, for the person I speak about it isn't past yet. Thanks for any info.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: kBOY ()
Date: January 13, 2011 02:10AM

DEAR TRYINGTOHELP,

As I stated in an earlier post (10/19/10), the Living Word Fellowship (TLW) does not have the market cornered on missing the point. With 38,000 known versions of Christianity, and more than 150,000 different translations of the Bible, it makes choosing the “correct” one(s) a challenge.

TLW does operate under various foundational paradigms. First, is that the Bible (which version?), is the inerrant, infallible, word of God, end of story. This, of course, is turning a blind eye to the enormous realm of biblical scholarship which would prove otherwise. God=Bible=God is a view to which I no longer subscribe. Jesus did not come to start a religion. He came to introduce us to the Father, AND, our brothers, AND, show us the way home. Most of the message has been lost in the Bible and it’s 38,000 interpretations of the religion started by Paul.

Running a close second, is the foundational relationships patterned after the Elijah/Elisha, Paul/Timothy template in both the Old and New Testaments. The founder, John Robert Stevens (JRS), commented many times that in the days of his youth he would have crawled on his knees across the country to serve under a man of God. This has been extrapolated into a system of “paired-up” relationships within the fellowship, from top-to-bottom, for those who were willing, in order that, first, no one need settle for a “god-in-the-sky” but actually have one in the flesh, and second, someone who can then be there to save you from yourself by saying “no” to you where applicable. This, of course, has seen many shortcomings and abuses over the decades. I, myself, have probably had at least a dozen such “designated relationships” (DRs) over the course of thirty-plus years, some OK, and some very much NOT OK.

The fallibility of the paradigm lies in the fact that Jesus’ prayer for each one of us was basically, “Father, I pray that they (all of us) be one (with YOU, Father) even as You and I are one.” The focus and emphasis is certainly on our personal relationship with the Father, NOT a focus on someone in the flesh as an intermediary. (This is the true meaning of the Way, Truth & Life--the religion OF Jesus, not the religion ABOUT him.) It has had the unintended consequence of stunting the development of our personal relationship with the Father, by focusing an inordinate amount of time and attention on someone else--time better spent on learning what the voice of the Father is saying “yes” to in your life.

Another foundational paradigm deals with a “lateral oneness” that very closely monitors behavior and attitudes that are in line with the current “shibboleth”. Maintaining the “pure atmosphere” is of primary importance, and “promotion” to any position up any ladder in whatever area is contingent upon “toting the party line”. There is little tolerance for any significant dissent.

The gospel paradigm of Jesus teaching the disciples, then sending them out, then repeating the process, is not one you will find with TLW. Within the landscape of Christianity as a whole, it is an extremely inbred and isolated culture. Because of early persecution, it has seen to close ranks for protection and for the maintenance of it’s “pure atmosphere”. This has had the unintended consequence of viewing others with at least a “leery eye”. It has also formulated a culture whereby the rank and file have had an uneasy and awkward relationship with anybody who has left the fellowship. This isolation has also hampered any consistent outreach, believing instead that a focus on building the internal spiritual maturity of the group, and an “if we build it they will come” focus on facilities will increase their numbers. This has not been the case, with the fellowship currently seeing it’s smallest membership in more than forty years.

As with much of Christianity today, it is plagued with an “us vs. them” mentality; sheep/goats, saved/not saved, in the body of Christ/out of the body of Christ, believers/non believers. These are not distinctions Jesus made on the cross. “Father, forgive (all of) them, for they know not what they do.” The statement, “He lost not one”, speaks to the totality of the provision.

Seeing the “devil behind every fire hydrant” is also very foundational. Interpreting every circumstance as being “of God” or “of the devil” flies in the face of what Jesus said, that “it rains on the just and the unjust alike”. Your prosperity/health/circumstances, or lack thereof, has NOTHING to do with your spirituality. If it did, all the billionaires in the world would be the most spiritual people on the planet. To interpret a badly needed rainfall as a sign of blessing from God may be disputed by those whose homes might be underwater elsewhere.

When Jesus said, “My kingdom is NOT of this realm”, that’s exactly what He meant. MY kingdom, my Father’s kingdom, (dare I say YOUR kingdom as an inheritor) is not this insanity you find yourselves in (the universe of time & space). God did NOT create this realm and throw everybody down here to suffer and die. Christ was able to forgive everyone on the cross because He knew our TRUE identity was not to be found HERE as we appear. “Knowing not what they do” means “forgotten who they ARE”, “out of their minds”--temporary insanity--for which we are forgiven.

The SANITY of the gospel is found in the Atonement/Salvation/Forgiveness message. Your way out of here and back home to God is fully ACCEPTING the provision of forgiveness, both for yourself and your brother. To the extent that you accept it is the extent that you receive it. And, to the extent that you EXTEND it to your brother, is the extent that you help bring forth the kingdom IN your brother. To hold offenses against your brother or yourself holds you bound to this realm, separate from God and fearing death--both conditions that Christ saw beyond.

I hope this will be of some help. TLW is full of very well-meaning people, no different than anywhere else. Why muddy the waters, when the gospel of the kingdom is simple and clear? God is your (and everyone else’s) father, all men/women your brothers, and the love of God is manifested in the earth through His provision of total forgiveness, both within and without. It is very much an individual experience as well as a personal responsibility. It cannot be accorded to another to fulfill for you. Any TRUE fellowship with another will be a result of this dynamic and no other.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: January 13, 2011 03:28AM

To whom it may concern:

This is not a message board devoted to religious debates, theology and/or philosophy.

Believe whatever you want.

The issue is behavior and how the behavior of groups and/or leaders may hurt people.

See [www.culteducation.com]

Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader.

1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.

2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.

3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.

4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.

5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.

6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.

7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.

8. Followers feel they can never be "good enough".

9. The group/leader is always right.

10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing "truth" or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.

Ten warning signs regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader.

1. Extreme obsessiveness regarding the group/leader resulting in the exclusion of almost every practical consideration.

2. Individual identity, the group, the leader and/or God as distinct and separate categories of existence become increasingly blurred. Instead, in the follower's mind these identities become substantially and increasingly fused--as that person's involvement with the group/leader continues and deepens.

3. Whenever the group/leader is criticized or questioned it is characterized as "persecution".

4. Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior.

5. Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without group/leader involvement.

6. Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supercede any personal goals or individual interests.

7. A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.

8. Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.

9. Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.

10. Former followers are at best-considered negative or worse evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.

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