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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: changedagain ()
Date: March 02, 2011 10:01PM

Quote
paleface
It is often taught that if you learned to think like the leader (MH) you would have her thinking, and that
her thinking was God's thinking. She was the "Lamp of Israel" and was the incarnation of Christ on the earth.

I remember it being said often, in the 70's, that you really couldn't understand the scriptures without John's word. And then at some point it became you couldn't really understand John's word without Marilyn's thinking...and then, of course, came the transition into the era of designated relationships where people basically lost all confidence to connect to God directly--often just doing whatever they were told to do....playing it safe, staying out of trouble, trying to get closer to leadership.
Interestingly, prior to John's death, much of his teaching centered on relationships, the "family spirit", and included warnings about the tendency of authorities to want to control those under them...rather than allowing change to come to people organically. Somehow that concept got lost, or perhaps just buried.
Oh well. People with power, and no real accountability, will do what they do...I think somewhere in the scriptures there is a statement about there being nothing new under the sun.

Mike

p.s. I realize this comment is unauthorized, but I'm posting it anyway.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: larry bobo ()
Date: March 14, 2011 01:08PM

Over the last ten years, I have communicated with many who have left TLWF. The sad thing is the hundreds of people who will not have anything to do with God after this exposure. The wounds are still fresh, even after 20-30 years. It's difficult to understand how those who claim to have a shepherd's heart can be so calloused towards those they have damaged. Behind the divorces for an "unequal yoke" are spouses and kids whose lives have simply been trashed. If they are no longer involved in the church, they are treated as though they don't even exist. It goes right straight to the top.

The wounds of TLWF are especially deadly because there is a deep sense of starting with the presence of the Lord. It is very difficult to separate the wheat from the tares when they have been allowed to grow together. The generic answer is that if you leave, you must be a tare. Many left as a result of seeing things that they knew deep in their hearts were not of God, even though the leadership continued to imply infallibility. Even when "false shepherds" actions came to light, those who were damaged under their hand were still considered to be in deception for not mindlessly following.

On the surface everyone, including John, would admit that nobody is perfect. The problem comes when you make an attempt to point out areas that don't line up with scripture. The "word" is considered to be perfect and if you disagree with the leaders viewpoint, you are considered to be in rebellion. The plumbline becomes a person instead of the scripture - or the way it's portrayed is "let me tell you what the scripture really means through the apostolic lens". It's reminiscent of the Catholics not letting the common man read and interpret the scriptures for themselves - and I believe the motive behind it is the same. You're asked to be part of the solution to problems, which all sounds good until you start making suggestions and are asked to be quiet or leave. The rest of the world calls that a dictatorship, not a relationship.

For example, if a church leader wanted to divorce his wife and marry his secretary to further the kingdom, even a random poll at the local pub would show something was amiss. When faced with this in TLWF, those that spoke up were dismissed from the fellowship. We completely disconnected from scripture and it became a pattern for many lives. Now instead of strengthening marriages, they may have to be abandoned to pursue the leadership. When the bubble of deception pops, you can't believe how foolish you were and how little you actually have in your hand for the years of effort.

The good news is that it doesn't have to stay that way. When you go back to Jesus words and begin to apply them, your life begins to bloom. For example, one of the first things I did was to restore the relationship with my parents. Jesus said to honor your father and mother - without conditions. My parents honestly considered me to be lost in a cult where they could not feel the relationship any longer. Perhaps the most dishonoring thing you can do to your natural parents is call someone else your mom and dad. The deception is twisting Jesus' words where He said that if you loved family members more than Him, you were not worthy of Him. He did not say you must love other humans more than your family or you would not be worthy of Him.

The same principle holds true for marriages. Your spouse needs to know they are the most important human relationship you have - not a church leader who may imply you need to divorce to better follow them. Can you imagine the insecurity that breeds in the marriage? That way of thinking is a self-fulfilling prophesy for the demise of the marriage. The order of priority should be God, spouse, kids, and then church community - not the other way around.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: paleface ()
Date: March 24, 2011 11:28PM

Larry, your third paragraph got me to thinking.

Gary has recently admitted over the pulpit "Some mistakes have been made in the past. We are not perfect.". But that's about the extent of it. You don't get any details about what he is referring to and there is no indication of repentence of corrections to the sources of the mistakes.....unless blame was placed on a person and that person was removed from leadship. And, I guess it is easy to fault JRS and claim "His big error was not opening up to Marilyn all the way". The hint is that John missed the mark here. Was that the "big mistake" ? I don't think so.

But what I find disturbing is apparently no discussion about words that were brought that appear to have been flawed. No discussion about "Satan being brought down by John"....or... "The Kingdom is coming in 1979". No revision of unfullfilled prophecy. It's as if these words from JRS and G&M stand true and are 100% perfect. Nothing is revised or edited as it stands up in the face of time and what has transpired. And, like you said, if you question this, you are regarding in the fellowship as someone with a "critical spirit" and thus being a vessel of witchcraft.

I'm sorry, but the words and theology are just as imperfect as the vessles that speak them.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: larry bobo ()
Date: March 26, 2011 12:45AM

How do you give immortality to another in exchange for obedience when you are not immortal yourself? Can you give something you do not have to give? This teaching is by no means limited to TLWF. There are other groups saying the same thing – if you submit to their view of “apostolic divine order” it starts the perfection of the saints process which will eventually lead to overcoming death. I’m surprised that if this is a process, the lack of any evidence of it working to ANY degree should be a red flag. Is the aging process at least slowing for anyone? Of course it’s not.

The whole concept is heresy, used by leaders for control. True leadership looks like Jesus – it serves and leads by example, not control. It serves from underneath, not controls from above. If God, who created man, allows free will, who is man to demand obedience in exchange for something they don’t even have to give? Do you really think you can hand out nature changes if people follow your every command? The telltale sign is none of these leaders will submit to each other – they know better. Consider the fruit. Is the fruit of the Spirit the outcome of obedience or are you struggling to navigate oppression and confusion being labeled the “work of the cross”.

Many would be so encouraged to find that God’s true discipline really leads to the peaceable fruit of righteousness – He’s doing the work in you. It’s not the righteous facsimile of your efforts or the efforts of others at work in you. The path of the righteous get’s brighter and brighter – even though it grows narrower. There’s a reason many saints have laid down their lives – not for religious suffering at the hands of men but for a living relationship with the Creator of the universe. Our hearts must be focused on Him, not an idolatrous substitute for Him.

What’s even more tragic, even the areas where there really could be evidence of the new creation growing, basic life is not even working. I don’t mean to personally attack any one, but God’s Spirit really does strengthen marriages and turn them into something wonderful that the world could never produce. The thought of dissolving marriages to pursue a leader is frightfully off track. Having just God’s structure of marriage is no guarantee of success; you have to fill that structure with His Spirit. “Apart from me, you can do nothing” – including marriage. The deception of the enemy is to cut off the flow of life to the seed of the Kingdom planted in our hearts so it doesn’t grow. The flow of life must come through a direct connection to the Vine, not allowed to be blocked by a mediator.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: changedagain ()
Date: April 05, 2011 06:55AM

Quote
paleface
I guess it is easy to fault JRS and claim "His big error was not opening up to Marilyn all the way". The hint is that John missed the mark here. Was that the "big mistake" ? I don't think so.

Yeah...specifically, I don't think John's big problem during the time period he was having an affair was not being open to another woman, also not his wife.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: larry bobo ()
Date: April 15, 2011 09:18AM

I believe John’s earlier years, as expressed in “To Be A Christian”, reflect an obedience to the leading of the Lord that resulted in obvious good fruit. Turning a corner to follow a woman, instead of the Lord, has resulted in many damaged lives. I think it is worth examining how the influence of Marilyn affected the relationship John had with his wife and daughters. Many of us joined in praying for their destruction – quite appalling to me now! As Jesus said when his disciples wanted to call down fire,”You don’t know what spirit you are of”.

How did the influence of Marilyn affect the relationship Gary had with his wife and daughter? Did the “Lamp” bring healing or destruction to their relationship? Actually she took the place of, in both situations. If people were willing to hear the other side of the story, it’s not such a rosy picture. To those who genuinely love their children I would ask,”What would it take for you to completely ignore or want the destruction of your children?” I don’t think John or Gary started out feeling the way they ended up feeling under her influence. She obviously does not want any rivals for those under her control.

You can continue the same examination with the members of Apco and the many divorces that have taken place. I would suggest, from those I’ve talked with, that the dividing line in many of those marriages was who would be number one – Marilyn or their spouse. Within the boundaries of TLWF, the answer is a resounding Marilyn. Among most of the rest of Christianity, the answer is the spouse. It would seem silly to choose a church over a marriage when both spouses are Christians, to most of Christianity. The breaking apart of what God has made one spirit does not serve the interest of the Kingdom. It is the attempt of a human to take the place of God. “Worship me and you will live forever” makes those who are not under the spell shake their heads in disbelief that people could actually believe this stuff.

I didn’t realize how feminized the males had become (myself included) in TLWF until attending other churches. If you remember the masculine ingredient that was in the atmosphere when John was alive, you know what I mean. After John’s death, it was almost like being raised by a single mother. Gary was more like an older brother and his relationship with Marilyn seemed kind of creepy since it was obvious who was wearing the pants – it was more like his mom. I’m not saying Gary’s or others mannerisms are feminine; it just has a different spirit when you sense a woman, not God, is pulling the strings and demanding obedience. It’s just as bad when a man tries to take the place of God. I’ve had to face the fact that I let it happen and that I am really the one that is responsible – nobody put a gun to my head.

I believe it takes a man, to teach a man, how to be a man. It does not mean women are not of equal value – they are just not men. Can you imagine a man trying to teach a woman how to be a woman (at least a straight man) – they are just not women – it’s not in them. Pursuing after God gives men and women exactly what they each need. The castration of men who have chosen to follow a woman instead of God is a sad thing to see. It’s equally destructive for a woman (or a man) to allow a man to take the place of God. It’s called idolatry. I’m afraid for TLWF - there’s not going to be a skirt to hide behind on Judgment Day. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of wounded sheep that are being totally ignored in the drive of TLWF to be the latest and greatest – the exact opposite of the Kingdom.

The culture of TLWF has degenerated to the point that now everyone has a human taking the place of God in designated relationships. “God in the sky” has been reduced to foolish imaginations – something to be scoffed at. Does anyone remember Jesus teaching us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven.” Do you remember the many years John tried to get people to wait on the Lord? I recently had a pastor in TLWF tell me he no longer needed to read his Bible – he could just talk to Christ in the flesh. I know who his “Christ in the flesh” happens to be, and the last thing you sense from him is the fruit of the Spirit. A snake in the grass looking for someone to devour would be a more apt description. Again, it’s just sad to see the destruction in the lives of people God deeply loves and so few willing to speak up.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: Amos ()
Date: May 16, 2011 02:57AM

My wife and I tried several times to work with the Living Word Fellowship (TLWF) after we left over a decade ago. I was forced out in 1998 because I took exception to rubber stamped mandates being carried out in the local church without being submitted to the local elders for prayer first. I remember writing to the Hargraves that year, telling them that they may as well "take a shovel and bury the South Gate church" if things kept going the way they were. Of course, nothing changed, and South Gate ended up tearing itself apart. Last year I find out that somehow in the telling, that my wife had become personally responsible for destroying the South Gate church, manipulating me, and manipulating the pastor of South Gate at the time. Its strange how the leaders of the fellowship seem unable to take responsibility for what happens. It is always Satan, or a nephilim, or someone else, like my wife, that is the problem. I think that they tell themselves that if everybody would just be submissive, then all of these problems would go away.

I imagine all of the churches in TLWF (I have only been a part of seven of them), to one degree or another are infected with these odd ideas about Christ in the flesh, and it really did start with John Stevens who for all appearances did not really take correction very well from his peers and turned instead to an entirely new and younger generation. I still remember one service where John tried to correct people who were calling him "the Apostle," because as he explained it there were other apostles. One young man shouted out "our apostle is 'the apostle'." I am sure that John's generation has issues also, but it seems to me that putting all of those young people in charge of churches, without experience, training or a means of correction, was a recipe for disaster. Although well intentioned, I think all of those young people were just terrible pastors. Most, are still terrible pastors and now there is an entirely new generation being groomed who I fear will lower the bar even further.

I recall John Stevens himself saying that when you idolize someone, you always emulate the worst parts of their character. It seems to be a truth that is self-evident in the fellowship. Whatever John was, some say apostle, he was still flawed and I think he set the stage for what happened to the fellowship. The real problem with the Hargraves, and from what I can tell, most of the other leaders, is that they really do not listen very well to other people who might have a different perspective. After all, if you are Christ in the flesh, it is really other people who should be listening.

My catharsis has been to blog, for good or bad, you can find it written at letterfromamos.org.

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Jesus probably should have explained that laying down your life for the brethren does not mean surrendering your mind to someone else.

[letterfromamos.org]
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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: jhorning ()
Date: May 20, 2011 06:29AM

Amos:
I suspect you are talking about the "3rd Generation" when posting about the churches being turned over to young people. Many of us hunched our shoulders and said, "What?" when we learned that the 3rd G would be taking over for established shepherds. Wasn't this about the same time all the confrontations were taking place? I remember being in on a few of these meetings where the "invitee" was told how wrong their thinking was and they had to allow the new generation of young people deliver them. Gee, I wonder how that worked out? I have been wondering lately who will be given the " Mantle of the Apostolic Fathering Ministry" when Gary and Marilyn are not longer around.

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: changedagain ()
Date: May 22, 2011 10:18AM

One thing I learned not to do was question the validity of a pastor's word just because he happened to be totally wasted (alcohol) when he delivered it. In fact, I eventually came to the conclusion that God preferred moving through an alcoholic ministry.
Take that, religious spirit!

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Re: The Living Word Fellowship, The Walk, John Robert Stevens
Posted by: larry bobo ()
Date: May 23, 2011 05:06AM

Now that May 21st has come and gone, and the world continues on in spite of the lack of a rapture, I’m reminded of 1979 that also came and went without the outward manifestation of the kingdom of God prophesied by John. Of course a few special leaders with special revelation were able to see that it really did happen and the rest of us had to take their word for it. Afterall, it was easier to believe than what the Children of Israel must have experienced when God talked to Moses about circumcision - "He wants us to cut our what off? Are you absolutely positive you heard him correctly?" Numerous prophesies of the coming decade were also chronicled in the This Week volumes which came and went with no evidence of them being true. I wonder if they have now been edited out in the pursuit of the “truth”?

Do you remember all the food storage and preparation for the days ahead? I recall an entrepreneurial local “prophet” deciding to fill his milk storage container with cigarettes instead of wheat – apparently from knowledge of prison currency and what would really hold value in times of disaster – especially among LWF pastors. Remember Damon Davis – the herb guy for TLWF - talking to plants to see if they were safe to eat. Several times, deceitful mushrooms lied to him and he ended up in the hospital. You dared not question the validity of his revelation. Those were days of enlightenment!

A far greater number of people followed Harold Camping than ever followed John. Perhaps there will be a slight glimpse in the mirror of what happens when we listen to a man, instead of God. There will be many that make a conscious decision that this really was a word from God and there just was a minor math error somewhere. Others, who gave up life savings – as also happened in TLWF – will disappear into the shadows permanently wounded and unable to trust “god” again. I like the response on the Latter Rain web site from someone who believed Camping’s prophesy was true and now had to come to grips with the fact that it was not:

"Are you going to stop listening to Harold Camping?"
“I can understand, when looking at this situation from an outside perspective, why some people might ask this question. For over 50 years, Harold Camping has diligently studied the Bible and I believe he has always taught what he honestly believed to be Biblical truth. I don't believe for a second that any of his teachings were the result of malicious intent and I continue to have a great deal of respect and love for him. Harold Camping isn't really the issue to me. What I'm more concerned about is my own approach to God's Word. I've learned a lot over the years from listening to Harold Camping. Although I have always examined Mr. Camping's teachings very carefully, perhaps I have allowed those learnings to influence my study and caused me to read the Bible in light of those learnings rather than letting God teach me without any preconceived notions. This is something I've always cautioned others about and I should have spent more time in the Bible just me and God, away from the guidance of teachers. Harold Camping has always said, "Don't trust me; trust the Bible." Have I placed too much trust in a teacher? If so, that's my fault, not Harold Camping's.”

I genuinely admire whoever said this – it only took them one day to come to this point – it took me a couple of years. Many have learned this the hard way. There is no safer place than the Bible. Heaven and earth may pass away, but God’s word will never pass away. He remains faithful and unchanging in His love for us – even while we pursue many other things – until, often wounded and bleeding, we are willing to sit at His feet and really listen to the words Jesus taught us at the beginning. They work 100% of the time and wash away a lifetime of mistakes. We serve an amazing God!

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