Saturday, June 24, 2017

The End Time: Still On Schedule Even Though I Have Not Been There Myself



It is better to learn late than never at all.   Publilius Syrus


Life does come at you pretty fast sometimes. There's much in one's personal transitions during the ebb and flow of life that can consume you so very much that whatever you've set up before as a priority suddenly gets torn down again by a newer or greater one. Change is the one constant of life, from deaths to births, from revisioning to scrapping, from relationship to relationship. Whether you a believer or an atheist, whether rich or poor, whether Asian or African and no matter where you live in the great human continuum of existence, we all face the lightning strokes of personal change and the uncertainty it brings, followed by sometimes purposeful and often frantic scrambling to react and/or respond to it.

Such has been 2016 for me and my house. I am now an associate pastor at the Crossroads Church at first in Lynwood, then in Sauk Village, Illinois where I serve to help shepherd, care and grow the flock under the senior pastorate of James Schulker.  Last year was one of the greatest years of transition in both churches - while we were just starting to get our ministerial launch in Lynwood, the Sauk Village Church of God invited us to combine with them to create a new congregation. Both congregations agreed and the Crossroads Church of God was born in August, where my wife and I have served ever since and our first year anniversary is coming up. Since then our ministry has kept us quite engaged on a local church level and we anticipate deepening levels of it to come, to the glory of God in Christ by His Spirit. It would take a whole post in and of itself to discuss how I've gotten to this point .. but we know one thing. Elizabeth and I are here for this place, at this time, and for the building of the Kingdom of God.

This blog has been about discussing how the end times apostasy in our world spreads and continues to deepen and deceive.  You may now understand why I've not had time to do much with it at all for over a year, after repeated relaunching to keep it current over the years, despite my desire to keep blogging.  Time is now at an absolute premium. My calling as a pastor now is asserting itself, my long standing desire and passion, and while my calling to be also an apologist and countercult activist remains the same, it is the priorities that are now changing. This has been ongoing since 2013 and it is where He has been leading.

But Spiritwatch Ministries and this blog will continue and must remain. The ongoing rebellion of humanity against its Creator as its time is about to be overshadowed by prophetic judgment must be foremost in a truly informed person's mind when considering the days ahead. Somehow, someway, I will now continue to blog about this fallenness, about the dark days ahead because it is certain that the days are indeed getting more troublesome and uncertain. In such a time as this, the Gospel of Jesus and a living hope in Him that is an anchor of the soul are the eternal standards that will stand all change that chaos seeks to impose. Spiritwatch Ministries stands firmly upon that!

We're still going to do as we have, here in the Chicago metro area and Northwest Indiana. We're still counseling victims of spiritual abuse, still witnessing to cult members, still tracking apostacy, still consulting with pastors, still keeping the websites up and the prayers going on. Every Tuesday, at our church, I lead a weekly prayer meeting for our world with emphasis on the cultic groups and apostate elements in our culture that need prayer for conviction, for deliverance and for truth. We're not giving up .. just again reprioritizing again in the midst of change! Thanks for your patience and attention, folks! Pray for us! We'll be blogging more next week!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Of Cartridges And Things: The Latter Day Saint Legacy Of Divine Violence

The ongoing occupation of a Oregon federal wildlife refuge's grounds by dissident rancher activists again provides for us an opportunity to look beyond the headlines to the bigger picture behind their protest. The leader of the group, one Ammon Bundy, draws his moral high ground for his actions as much as from deep seated convictions that the federal government has disrupted his livelihood and that of his neighbors as well as an earnest appeal to several generations of Latter Day Saint political pietism in the Northwest. 

A recent Religion & Politics column written by Benjamin Park is well worth a read to grasp how such a seemingly harmless faith like Mormonism has provided for Bundy and many of his following a platform to become a rallying point for dissent, even armed conflict:

Even on an issue as crucial as violence, the LDS culture has enough tools at its disposal to construct various, and seemingly conflicting, idols. ..

Indeed, examining the relationship between Mormonism’s tradition and the current standoff in Oregon is a reminder that the construction of political theologies is always an exercise in creating religion after one’s own image.


It's an article well worth the read and shows how quickly the acquired absolutism drawn from one's lifetime in the thrall of an authoritarian group becomes both the potter and the clay in the cottage industry of good old fashioned cultism.



Saturday, January 9, 2016

ICSA 2016 in Dallas on Recovery From Cultism: Hope To See You There!


It is an honor to have been accepted as a speaker at the 2016 International Cultic Studies Association. I've not been at a conference in quite a good while outside those Spiritwatch Ministries has helped facilitate so some great friends have encouraged me to consider providing my own input there for a while and so I applied, and was accepted.

I've spoken in evangelism conferences (like the one above) about cultism for my movement, the Church of God (Cleveland) as well as in those operated by the Midwest Christian Outreach and EMNR coalition over the years.  Speaking at conferences has always been challenging and yet profoundly encouraging. I hope to someday get more of our conference audio and video online this year. So when this opportunity came, I felt I should offer my own interaction. I appreciate the recognition of the work and plan to be there.

The ICSA was at one time called the American Family Foundation and I have watched it from afar off and have been too absorbed in too many other things to go the next step up to be involved there. It has done a tremendous job in being one of the major resources on cultism and cultic abuses that victims and survivors can look to. I have been working to help people in cults in one way or another since 1983 and have been aware that people of like minds have been doing the same all over the world. The ICSA is a band of professionals, survivors, ministers, lawyers, therapists and genuinely caring people - although diverse and global in populace, it is dedicated to pretty much the same thing I have tried to address in the one small segment of the Cultworld I've tried to work with.

The topic of the conference deals with recovery from cultic groups and I will be giving a talk on the development of a Christian model of cult recovery that is non-coercive and yet faithful to Christian principles. I don't believe recovery from the abusive manipulation of cultism and compassionate Christian ministry to those who have experienced it are mutually exclusive whatsoever. That is what I will be sharing with, in a 30 minute paper presentation (with of course, the obligatory PowerPoint) and 15 minutes of questioning.

I'm not sure what the date for that will be but it will occur during the conference in Dallas, Texas from June 30 through July 2, 2016. We hope to see some of you then. More information will follow ... the latest conference into can be read here at the ICSA website.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Who Said There's No Free Lunches Anymore? When The Criminals Can Help Run The Land


 Most people think that your life ends when you are sentenced to a long term of incarceration. Au contraire.

In fact, for a fair number of convicts, the American prison system becomes the greatest thing to happen to them. They get room, board, medical care and the chance to earn privileges which they capitalize on to change their lifestyle and "mend their ways."  It's unlike jail time in much of the world anywhere else.

In fact, it's a proven fact that convicts can remain involved and connected with their former external lives in ways thought impossible. Imprisoned organized crime lords still get their underlings to run the show while they're gone. Embezzling businessmen can still buy, sell and trade, drug traffickers get their destructive product distributed, and rapists and other misanthropes like cult leaders Charles Manson and Warren Jeffs can live pretty well empowered lives. Manson's murderous cult was largely broken up when he was brought to justice, but he still writes books, charms women, and dispenses his warped thinking via a website. Jeffs still runs his LDS fundamentalist people group with an iron hand even after his child rape conviction and does so with an authoritarianism that would make Brigham Young proud.

So, if cult leaders and other organized miscreants can run their empires from prison, why can't we re-elect and swear in government officials while they are arrested for suspicions of murder and drug dealing? Right here in Northwest Indiana, such a spectacle continues. An East Chicago council man, Robert Battle, is about to be sworn in while awaiting a court date for suspicion of homicide and drug trafficking conspiracy. Before his arrest, he was running unopposed for the position, got 308 votes for the job during the election which took place and was arrested shortly after his victory. His trial won't be until next summer, but until then, he's likely going to continue to draw pay and be able to run government.. from jail.

Only in America do you see this kind of pandering to the criminal element of our fallen society go on.

As I've said before, you can't make this up. Click here for the latest sordid details.

What was that old saw about the inmates running the prison?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Meat The Press, part 2015: How Pop Apostacy Pops Up In The Media

There's nothing .. and I mean nothing .. so jaw droppingly amusing when the media takes to its massive networks of print, internet, TV and radio mediums to take to task those whom it feels the need to cut down to size. 

There's perhaps no more pathetically hilarious season then when certain talking heads, steered by their producers pulling their strings by earpiece, want to remind us what "real Christianity" is all about when Christians and Christian institutions refuse to compromise to the social conventions everyone demands of it.
With polls and the cultural pulse takers of the day telling us how disconnected the church has become from the foundational truths which it has upheld for over two millenia, it's easy to feel that maybe we need to "evolve" and "revision" a more "user friendly" faith that isn't so intolerant, archaic, and out of touch with modern sensibilities.

So G. Shane Morris' biting response to the gainsaying day we live in is a refreshing reminder of just how countercultural that the Christian faith is and must be and shall be.

What matters, and what the media can’t for the life of them seem to understand is this: We, as Christians, do not worship a generic God-of-the-philosophers, non-trinitarian, and infinitely customizable to various faiths. Our God insists on being known as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as revealed in the New Testament.

When a Christian or a journalist demands we act like Jesus and just get along with everybody, I remind them that Jesus wrecked the Kumbaya of first-century Jewish theology by making exactly the claim about himself I’m making now: He is God in human flesh.
Do Christians and Muslims worship the same god? Well, is Jesus Christ God? You can’t answer “yes” to both, no matter how loudly the theologians in the media insist otherwise.

His throwing down of the gauntlet can be read in full here.   I can only wish I'd written it first.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

If It Quacks Like A Duck, And Walks Like A Duck: The Ongoing Cultism Of Remnant Fellowship

Cultism to this day still gushes out of the filthy cisterns of the Remnant Fellowship's authoritarian leadership as inspired by the micromanaging orations of its self proclaimed "prophet" Gwen Shamblin. The underlying spiritual terrorism of Shamblin's religion isn't lost on observers not dazzled by its bling and zeal.  Suzanne Titkemeyer, a blogger and administrator of the No Longer Quivering  online support community dedicated to helping women who are spiritually abused, did not fail to note Remnant's aberrance in a blog post from last year:

Years later I heard that Gwen (Shamblin) had said most Christians weren’t very Christian or serious about their faith. At the time I was shocked by her statement but after eight years out I have to say I agree with her. Where I disagree is in the fact that she started her own church, The Remnant, which has more in common with Michael Pearl and other dangerous theology than any movement to free Christianity from legalism.







Click the link above for the complete article of Suzanne's painful reminiscence and discovery of the cultism of Remnant and it's leaders.  It's well worth the biting, irreverent read .

Monday, January 4, 2016

When Transmission Belts Fail: One Columnist's Minority Opinion

A civilized society's first line of defense is not the law, police and courts but customs, traditions, rules of etiquette and moral values. These behavioral norms — mostly transmitted by example, word of mouth and religious teachings — represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience and trial and error.

They include important thou-shalt-nots, such as thou shalt not murder, thou shalt not steal and thou shalt not cheat. They also include all those courtesies that have traditionally been associated with ladylike and gentlemanly conduct.

The failure to fully transmit these values and traditions to subsequent generations represents one of the failings of what journalist Tom Brokaw called "The Greatest Generation." People in this so-called great generation, who lived during the trauma of the Great Depression and fought World War II, not only failed to transmit the moral values of their parents but also are responsible for government programs that will deliver economic chaos.

And the United States pays for it daily, in both the ongoing moral and financial decay of our land. As much as we have to laud our forebears, there remains this stark truth: it failed us horrifically when it came to teaching and living out what it meant to live right from wrong. The apostasy today does indeed have roots and wings.

To read the rest of Walter Williams concise and brutally honest commentary piece, click here.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Clouds Without Water: The Shameless "Examples" Of Apostacy Roll On

On this blog, we discuss how much more of the slippery slope of apostacy from the Christian faith we have slithered down, how cultism, the culture wars and just life in general shows how utterly in need of a Savior humanity really is. We've reviewed a lot of the sordid, the sensual and the spiritually deceptive over the years and as 2016 dawns, I intend to continue that trend primarily because of the dark hour we live in that demands that discernment and truth be heralded in the face of a world of lies.

So, with that in mind, we often must be reminded that there's a real reason why things are written in the Bible as they are and as they sound. In a world that wants to make the 10 Commandments, for example, into 10 Suggestions and the nature of God so fluid as to encompass flying spaghtetti monsters and reincarnated lepers, the Bible stands alone as a standard to live by. It's not a book of mystery and fable, but one filled with honest accounts of God's dealing with his stubborn and rebellious creation, and how warped we can be.

So when Jude 12-13 perfectly and infallibly prophesies about just how shagnasty and loathesome an spectacle of carnal self-interest that "prophets" "very spiritual persons" and "church workers" today provide, we'd better listen: there's a reason why the apostle writes with a burning and almost lyrical passion there ..

These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear:clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;  Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

Without shame, such wolves in sheep's clothing continue to do their thing. Knowing the level of discernment and gullibility is at an all time high among those who wish to believe, they impudently, shamelessly, boldly offer themselves as morally pure repositors of Christian faith and balanced spirituality. The three examples above aren't even close to being a representative sample of this tribe of impostors. We trust you'll see why Jude says what he says here.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Art Still Imitates Life .. All Too Well

It's 2016 ... another year of apostasy has completed to seamlessly flow into another. In the last days, it's about the only thing we can really count on occurring in this crumbling world order.

Spiritual abuse, agenda-laden socialization and fallen human nature on every hand keeps breeding perfect storms of deceptive and cultic manipulation. It is so mundane that it can be found everywhere in human society. It's always noteworthy when it finds an uncommonly piercing light thrown on it.


The power of authoritarian social pressure that unethically compels people to make lifestyle decisions plainly inspired by the groupthink surrounding them is an old reality. People want to belong and be lead by those who promise them meaning, fulfillment and community based upon the allure of the group they are invited to join.  But this is not a phenomenon limited to religious cults. Oh by no means .. 


Click here to see a piercingly and painfully on target observation of how cults on college/university campus are often hidden in plain sight, thus allowing them to create parallel universes within them .. The young film student who created this exceedingly disturbing work has found her film being cut off from YouTube and other sources and vilified as a jealous wanna be. She's also lit up, in just a few months, a sizeable portion of the Internet.

We think as you watch this you'll get her point: Cultism truly is an equal opportunity scourge of humanity.



Sunday, June 28, 2015

One Minister's View On The Erosion Of Society, Post 6.26.2015


 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.  They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you (Luke 19:41-44 NIV).

Our national turn embodied in the recent Supreme Court decision to establish same sex marriage unions has been one towards an ultimate deviance from God's order for human sexuality and the family has been towards inviting His judgment upon us.

That's not being hateful, nor intolerant, much less being something to make you sound politically correct .. but is upholding a fundamental design for life we now toss to the winds for our "happiness." Instead, a curtain of deception and confusion will smother us in the years to come. The only "forcing of morals and beliefs" I see here was when the Supreme Court's activist judges decided this was a civil right which is complete fantasy ..

It won't change my feelings about those who embrace this (I love all people regardless of their lifestyle choices) and will not refrain from befriending or helping anyone. I have known homosexuals in my workplaces and in my life and have never treated them with anything but respect and dignity, even though our lifestyle choices are so radically at odds.

At the same time, as a minister of the Gospel of Christ, I will not stay silent on what is right or wrong on this matter, no matter what our hellbound culture rises up to sanctify. While civil same sex unions may be what it lauds, those truly faithful to God's ordained standards for what marriage is are now going to be found only in the declarations and actions of the Christian church's voice itself.

As an expositor of that truth, I cannot but speak and proclaim what those are .. regardless what the consequences might be as a matter of my own conscience and what the Christian faith historically teaches us on how to live. I invite God's judgment upon me if I choose to ignore, downplay or ignore the implications of social pressures to compromise on this. I love His established truth too much to not stand up for it. For me to remain silent upon this would make me part of the vast fogbank of human depravity that I am expected to compromise to .. and after 31 years in the Christian ministry giving my life to live for truth, I am not going to contribute to that whatsoever. My love for the souls of the people all around me won't let me do that.

And being that the increasingly amoral church is the final place for which any kind of moral declaration in our society is ultimately appealed to, this will be the focus for a global campaign of feral demand for the Christian faith to capitulate to modern convenience and conviction on the LGBT agenda unlike anything it has seen in the 2 millenia it has existed. I am not surprised by such an assault when I realize this societal twisting is precisely what Jesus said we would expect in the last days and Matthew 24 continues to unfold prophetically in our culture.. as we continue to slouch toward divine judgment.

If that makes me in its eyes an intolerant hater, that's their POV. I categorically reject that. All who know me and persist in that kind of demonization to protect a morally bankrupt position they want to endorse have resorted to the only way they can legitimize it ... and speak volumes about how "tolerant" they are and how tragically compromised they are for judging someone they know to be a person who cares about all people as some kind of hatemongering Fred Phelps clone. You may unfriend me if you will, but it won't be my doing. You'll quit me but I'll keep loving you .. and won't stop upholding the truth.

God save America .. because she is about to get spanked. Mark what I say, in tears, sorrow and a sense of dread unlike any I've ever had before.

Jesus Christ is coming .. come quickly Lord and may faith truly still be on this earth when you do.

Friday, June 26, 2015

It's Official: Same Sex Marriage Is Legally Sanctioned & The Apostasy Ramps Up A Notch or Two


"If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. "Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.
"

Same sex marriages just became the law during today's Supreme Court judicial activism and a supposed "civil right" that had previously been all but assured cultural adoption is now the new "normal" in America.

Do the math: which of the three couples above will perpetuate society, will give birth to children?  This no longer matters, says our culture when the demand for loving relationship at the cost of society itself at large is far more important.

June 26, 2015 will mark a significant day in American history, when the slouch to Gomorrah became a skip.

The gayification, if that is a word that can be used, of culture - that is to say, the final efforts of the LGBT agenda to paint their lifestyle choice as a part of normative equality, has now pretty much claimed it's room at the table of the American way of life. No one in any institution anywhere can raise any objection and not be demonized in the ultimate intolerance. But that's the way it's been and has been a reality long coming. In light of the many years of legal tyranny and skullduggery to overturn state's rights to define what marriage is as well as the ongoing national accommodation of gay relationships and marital unions, this was a given self-fulfilling prophecy that was foretold years before the first 

And the Christian church supposedly is the last place where any objection to gay marriage can possibly yet be heard, except for the ultimately futile attempts by ultra conservative lawmakers to pass a constitutional amendment banning it.

But the tide of cultural apostasy is too advanced to stem now and as so goes the culture, in these last days of deepening darkness, so will go the church. The pressure on the church to sanctify gay marriage and lifestyle as a part of "progressive" Christian faith has just increased a hundred fold. When homosexual pastors "come out" and decide to militantly declare that "God has always honored our unions," then we can safely say that those who disagree will find themselves under the baleful glare of those who would demand they get with the gayme plan and be "Inclusive" and to stop being unwilling to have "deep discussion" about it, as local gay pastor Randy Duncan would assert.

The final moments of waning light are now fast fading .. and I'll let Larry Norman, despite his own checkered past, have the final say on where we are ..

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Strange Case Of Rachel Dolezal, Child Abuse And Outing In America

Human nature, the stuff through which moral depravity of every kind proceeds, is truly a maelstrom of contradiction, self-incrimination and just plain deceptive weirdness. And it always finds the most unbelievable ways to manifest. It is within the medium of warped human perspective and worldview that the apostacy of humanity keeps on trucking in.

If you would have asked me a few years ago if it was possible to see how the twistedness of a family under the influence of self-anointed scions of abusive fundamentalist child rearing could somehow take down an NAACP chapter leadership, I'd have been a bit baffled at trying to get my hands around that. But since we know that it's possible for an allegedly "Christian" diet group to become a mind controlling cult and command national media attention for it's "successes", I would have to regrettably agree since people are just so .. uh, funny.

And boy has it ever. The strange tale of the white civil rights activist Rachel Dolezal's bid to be accepted as a black woman and therefore head up the Spokane, Washington chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has all of the elements of the above, and apparently, so much more.

Her parents Larry and Ruthanne Dolezal and an adoptive brother mounted a media campaign to "out" her, that is to say, to expose her true identity as actually not quite Negroid. It would seem that they wanted "the truth told" about her Caucasian past and an apparent mental instability that deeply concerned them. This flies in the face of  her breezily self-assured conviction that she indeed is African American and that her family really aren't her family. This is symptomatic of a calculating and ruthlessly intentional effort to reject her racial reality and by default her own past itself.

Dolezal's personal life, in keeping with the script for outing as written by social media engineers, been spilled over all the internet to show the quirks of an apparently very complex persona. By her own testimony she is bisexual, a claimed victim of marital domestic abuse involving sex tapes and assault which a divorce court didn't buy, and a liberated woman who felt she needed to do a nude photo shoot in which she exposed a lot of apparently spray-tanned flesh. She also felt white activists and Latinos could not speak on racism involving blacks and gained another Kodak moment for herself by inciting violence among the protesters in the recent racial unrest in Baltimore. Being how her extracurricular activities concerning racial social justice seemed to be all good, not a lot of attention got drawn to her decidedly questionable activity - until her family seemingly wanted the truth told.

But in checking their own past and history, what looked like a time for clarity and resolution has gotten a lot murkier and far more darker (no pun intended) than what can be believed.

Why would an idealistic 37 year old woman launch herself into a campaign of self-serving deception for a supposedly greater good? What led her to so identify with a minority that she ditched her own personal history and past?  As the meme above suggests, something in her past personal experience turned her focus away from her own undeniable personal reality into a fantasy she thought was justifiable personal transformation so she could serve others. This well intended farce becomes a tragedy when that something well may have involve a family dynamic mediated by and influenced by a highly controversial and I might add pretty dangerously imbalanced Christian subculture which their family was conversant with and lived by.

A good review of that grotesque side of the Dolezal story is found here at our dear friend Cindy Kunsman's blog and specifically, a good overview of the fatal results that came about which involved the very influence the Dolezals came under, that of Christian teachers Michael and Debi Pearl can be read here and viewed in a 2013 CNN report here.

More twists and turns than what you'd find at a convention of Chubby Checker fans are likely ahead. It's enough for us to note once more the old but true saw how there is no right way to do the wrong thing: as Dolezal's ex-husband Kevin Moore, a supposedly devout Christian, well said ..
“Rachel, you may not believe in God but that does not mean that he does not exist,” he wrote to his ex-wife in an email that was included in court documents. “God has seen everything you have done and He continues to watch.”
After listening to Dolezal's windy dismissal of direct questions about her racial identity on the NBC video clip above, I don't know how much more of this I care to actually watch. It makes me want to throw up a little in my mouth.


But this Latino knows he's Latino and doesn't need monthly spray tans to prove it.  Here's a pic of me from 1986 after a summer of outdoor landscaping employment taking a break with lily white Sheila Walsh at Cornerstone 86 -- and as best as I know, she's still claiming to be white.





Perhaps it was simply coincidence that a reporter approached Rachel’s parents now, and perhaps if he hadn’t they still wouldn’t have said anything. But I have to say, the timing is concerning. Did Rachel’s parents out her as white simply because they care about the truth? Or were they also motivated bya  desire to discredit her so that they can, by association, discredit the victim she is supporting, and thereby protect their son from the sexual abuse charges that have been levied against him? Did Rachel act inexcusably in lying and deceiving people? Oh, hell yes. But elevating her parents heroes or truth-tellers while ignoring this troubling context is worrisome.
And perhaps that’s what’s bothering me about this story. Rachel’s parents have been paraded and lauded across the media, their words taken at face value, despite the fact that they have been (successfully) accused of abuse and despite the fact that they are defending their adult son against accusations of child sexual abuse. And as someone familiar with the dynamics of abuse, this makes me really uncomfortable.
- See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2015/06/lets-talk-about-rachel-dolezals-parents.html#sthash.z3PP93tI.dpuf
Perhaps it was simply coincidence that a reporter approached Rachel’s parents now, and perhaps if he hadn’t they still wouldn’t have said anything. But I have to say, the timing is concerning. Did Rachel’s parents out her as white simply because they care about the truth? Or were they also motivated bya  desire to discredit her so that they can, by association, discredit the victim she is supporting, and thereby protect their son from the sexual abuse charges that have been levied against him? Did Rachel act inexcusably in lying and deceiving people? Oh, hell yes. But elevating her parents heroes or truth-tellers while ignoring this troubling context is worrisome.
And perhaps that’s what’s bothering me about this story. Rachel’s parents have been paraded and lauded across the media, their words taken at face value, despite the fact that they have been (successfully) accused of abuse and despite the fact that they are defending their adult son against accusations of child sexual abuse. And as someone familiar with the dynamics of abuse, this makes me really uncomfortable.
- See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2015/06/lets-talk-about-rachel-dolezals-parents.html#sthash.z3PP93tI.dpuf

Saturday, June 13, 2015

To This Day .. We Are Still In Need of A Savior

We are still living in the last days Jesus warned us about in Matthew 24. Make no mistake about that. The last days, as we have mentioned here on this blog, are the Biblically prophesied time in human history in which humanity's descent into self-destruction will steeply nosedive and figure prominently in the advance of the end of the world.

It's what we've shared for years what the apostacy is and how much further along toward judgment we know march.The corrupt nature of humanity that underscores our existence will be seduced and exploited by powerful figures and forces of delusion and deception, working hand in glove with our common human denominator of self-centered pursuit of life without submission to the Lordship of God in Christ. People in short, will live as they will live, by God and to hell with telling THEM how to live, they will live life freely as they please.

And of course, as we've observed, this is what Jesus said would happen in the last days. Read it for yourself. It's not a mystery or the plot line for some cheesy bad flick about the Tribulation. It is a fact of life.

The moist poignant and saddening aspect of this life in the end times is how our children are universally seen as the final examples of innocence and purity we can still look to. To behold and cradle a sleeping infant or child's helpless and tiny little body and to look into their face betraying total absence of worry, woe or wrong, what parent or grandparent or family member does not then get inspired to strive and labor and fight to keep them as protected and insulated from the darkness of our fallen world as we can.

But as any parent of children knows, when the little ones grow, so does the wakening of their minds .. and wills. And the march toward corruption continues. This powerful video shows how the mundane and pervasive birth of evil in human nature has been our birthright since the fall of mankind .. and how it manifests in the most destructive of ways.

video

To know that children are capable of cruelty to the extent they are is still more proof of our continued need of a Savior. For us to live as we do with the evil speech we utter is proof that evil does indeed exist today.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

When The Friend Becomes The Accuser: The Grotesquerie of Acts 29's Village Church Leadership

Acts 29 is the name of a network of churches that loftily assure us they are organized for the sake of the Gospel of Christ and to facilitate church planting (they used to be called denominations before it became too frustrating for evangelical church marketing gurus, but that's for another post another time). Acts 29's website describes it's intentionality this way:

Our focus is not simply on our own congregations, but on the work of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ, making his name famous to the ends of the earth. In the DNA of all Acts 29 churches should be a deep and driving desire to see churches planted across the world, all of which are  defined by theological clarity, cultural engagement and missional innovation.

Part of that church planting strategy is to partner with Christian world missions organizations to help facilitate overseas global missions growth. I understand that the churches in this denominational umbrella all retain their congregational autonomy and sovereignty as individual member churches partnering for a common good. There's certainly no quarrel with this kind of Christian diversity in unity.

However, one thing Acts 29's ad blurb on it's site wants to speedily distance itself from was the plain fact that it founded by the certifiably abusive and manipulative megachurch preacher Mark Driscoll who programmed an authoritarian totalism into the polity and culture of the movement. He was finally expelled from the group last year, yet it is clear that he left more bitter seek that even now still reaps a harvest of poisonous fruit.

Such is the pathetic example of an Acts 29 member church called The Village Church (TVC) in Dallas, Texas. One Matt Chandler is now the new leader of the Acts 29 movement and the head pastor at TVC.  But Driscoll's loathesome example of "grace and mercy" seems to have lingered there and has found fertile ground to grow. The proof is in the pudding of how TVC checked out of a responsible and compassionate response to the pain and horror of one of the missionaries they supported when she discovered her missionary husband had a serious addiction to child porn.

And what did TVC do? They effectively made the victim into a target for their punitive sanction. 

This going on in a church movement stylizing itself as the next New Thing of church growth, as the next chapter in Christian missionality (remember, there's only 28 chapters in the book of Acts and the plain implication here is that Acts 29 picks up where the apostles did .. Feh).


You can't make this stuff up: this abomination of spiritual abuse is apparently embedded in their culture by a membership contract and because the devastated woman didn't follow their prescribed process that downplayed the danger her pedophile husband posed to children on the mission field, they actually set her forth as a target .. for discipline!

It seems that covenants and lofty words are far more important than love or justice among this curious group of Calvinistic folk (I'm not surprised).  So it wasn't until the Internet became the Holy Spirit (with an outcry against TVC's legalism that includes downloadable files documenting the church's abuse of power and authority) that TVC woke up to smell the pizza. Chandler finally made official that they would no longer discipline her for being open about the brokenness of her marriage and sounded even appropriately contrite about their heavy handed attempts to silence her.

For more information on how to recognize this kind of slickly concealed abuse within abusive churches today, check this excellent article out. Reading the responses to it is almost as good as the article itself and shows just how far "grace" really has been warped into something destructive today in too many places where it should be flourishing.

But Jesus said it would be like this ... the love of many, as he said in Matthew 24 "will wax cold."

Yes Lord, yes Lord.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Happy New Year Courtesy Of 2 Timothy 3:13

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.







And the band played on.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Accountability? Puhleaze. No Legalism Tolerated Here.


Accountability is a rare thing in our increasingly apostate day. It is an all too ignored work of community among people who are supposed to be committed to integrity in their public and private relationships. At it's core, accountability is the personal obligation or willingness to be answerable and accept responsibility for one's personal actions to the point of sanction and discipline in cases of moral or personal failure. This is easily apparent when you see how children are to be accountable to parents, students to teachers, public servants to the public trust and cashiers to the banks they work for .. all of course in a perfect world.

The ongoing mundanity of the end times apostasy has so thoroughly infected the minds of men, the spirit of the culture and fallen humanity itself that accountability for one's actions is one of the innumerable virtues of responsible lifestyle that have been effectively nullified in our day. To be seen as someone actually making someone accountable for what they do is subtly cast by the rebellious spirit of the age as an act of violation, an outrage against one's personal freedom, and even one of the most heinous of hate crimes in a politically correct pluralistic society. Nobody wants to be seen as "bigoted" or "intolerant" .. or, in religious contexts, as "quenching the spirit" or "touching the anointed."

For this reason, the toxicity of cultism's poisonous influence that squelches dissent and silences questions about something that is not just questionable but dangerous is able to insidiously work deep into the hearts and lives of those it enslaves. The power of cultism to deceive, defile and destroy is magnifed a hundred fold when cult members are systematically and ruthlessly conditioned to view their leaders as figures beyond accountability to anyone. If you alone hear from God and then speak directly for Him, how dare that be questioned? When such leaders become imparted with that kind of lofty and untouchable regard, they cease being anyone who can be called on the carpet or made accountable for their teaching, practice and lifestyle demands.


So when you see accountability handled carelessly, shoddily or incompletely in a situation in which a leader or authority figure is removed from their position either at their own hand or that of others, you'd better believe that's a real red flag. And it happens all the time in life all around us .. and the church is no different. In fact, it turbocharges the conviction that people can do what they want and get away with it in churches of all flavors as long as they are in charge, command the purse strings and the loyalty, and can muster up a modicum of contrition for any "misunderstandings" or "mistakes".

Such is the case of Dino Rizzo. He was, at one time, considered one of the many rising stars of evangelicalism at a megachurch organization he created in Louisiana, a well known megachurch pastor who knew how to make church "exciting" and "relevant". That is until it was discovered that, when in a supposedly "depleted" state, Rizzo entered into what has been called an "inappropriate friendship" with one Kaycee Smith, a video staff member at the church he pastored. The leadership in the organization he started,
the ARC (Association of Related Churches), stepped in to ostensibly shepherd the church through the shock and disruption it encountered as Rizzo left the pastorate in July 2012 for a time of "restoration".

However,
in August, 2013, Chris Hodges, the pastor who assumed the reigns of Rizzo's church introduced him back at the church as a new associate pastor and called him an inspiration ..14 months later. This came about because of the belief at ARC that Rizzo was indeed "restored" and that, after a year away from active ministry, he could again enter ministry in a "supervised" role not only at the church but with the ARC itself, "in providing pastoral care for the hundreds of church planters that have planted through the ARC."


Throughout all of this time, according to the statement at the link above, a "list of personal benchmarks" was something that  "Dino was asked to fulfill (and) was thirty-one items long."  It was said that "over the past year, he and Delynn have accomplished each one of them."

I would hope so. I am a believer in restoration and rejoice to see how God's grace can touch fallen people and make them new again. That's what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about. And yet, the factor of accountability still remains. Accountability makes it possible for the those who fail in life in some way or another to rise above and move ahead .. it's when what they supposedly have done is accounted for and action they take to demonstrate real repentance, sanctification and re-consecration to faith and then ministry itself.

So when I asked in the comments section 5 months ago in the same thread above what those 31 items were, no response was given. None. Nada. Zilch. Zero. 5 other people recognized the value of the question, but not the ARC.

This is almost the same kind of dissimulation heard from another Louisiana boy, one Jimmy Swaggart, who claimed to have made himself accountable to other preachers and ministers during his all too public deconstruction in 1988 and 1991 but who never identified them or mentioned any details of what he supposedly did.

It is also eerily similar to the kind of organizational chaos that elders at the now defunct Mars Hill megachurch organization are now confessing to, as ones who helped empower the authoritarianism of now disgraced megachurch "pastor" Mark Driscoll whose supposed passion for "the Kingdom of God" was more an insatiable and naked grab for power. The abusive "accountability" heaped on two elders there in an attempt to make them submit to Driscoll's consolidation of absolutist authority there was part of their sin, even as they resisted the groupthink pressure. It is a good illustration of how "accountability" in this context is simply abusive manipulation painted as holy discipline.If this dynamic could be extended to high level dissenting elders in their group, there's no doubt other more insidious and anonymous forms of spiritual abuse likely have occurred. Oh, wait ... there IS no doubt ...

As I have always taught, the essence behind cultism is the endless struggle for the unscrupulous for power and authority, for the ability to draw away leaders after their own desires (Acts 20:30). Religious abuse is always the result.

And the band played on.

                  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Strange And Tragic Example of Michael Jackson: When Mama Wasn't Happy

The struggling metropolis of Gary, Indiana is just to the east of us here, and was recently in the news when President Obama's flight to Chicago to fund raise for Governor Pat Quinn there ended up having to land there this past week. It brought a bit of visibility and positive news for a city that's not had much to cheer about as it continues to seek recovery from the economic evaporation of business and revenue in the past 30 years.

Gary can pride itself on something no other city can - it was the land of nativity for the Jackson family entertainment clan whose best known members were the Jackson Five, Janet Jackson and of course her inimitable brother, the "King of Pop" Michael Jackson. Jackson, who died tragically of cardiac arrest in 2009, was perhaps one of the most well known and perhaps one of the most complex pop singers of all time. His public and personal lives were a surreal mixture of spectacle and ritual in which his passion for chimps, children and cutting blockbuster smash music hits were offered for the world to see and partake.

His eccentric tastes along with his obsessive bouts of plastic surgery and other extravagant lifestyle choices were the result of a famously and yet authentically conflicted life. It would lead him to becoming a figure of ridicule in the press as its notoriously fickle attention it paid to him turned with the wind, even earning him the unflattering term of "Wacko Jacko". He seemed at once a cultural colossus, astride the world with sequined feet of clay that often couldn't help but blunder into personal problem after problem.

But the tragic reality behind Jackson's persona and the fabric of his soul was perhaps most famously woven by the shadow of cultic spirituality that he and his family came to be dominated by. His mother Katherine became a Jehovah's Witness quite early in their life and what is not commonly known is just how zealously Jackson was brought up in this faith. It was the tension between Jackon's desire to entertain and enjoy his life and the authoritarian cultic movement's demand for blameless appearances of piety and purity that did more to psychologically oppress him.

Just how deeply that inner struggle tore at him has long been one of the great burdens he carried even as he sought to keep the masses happy.  A telling read of the story behind his involvement with the Watchtower Society is worth the mouse click to read. It illustrates perfectly how cultism poisons the soul and warps the mind and sensibility of all who fall prey to it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Halloween: Still Another Day In The Life of End Time Apostasy

One of the many old blog articles started yarrons ago in Cleveland, Tennessee which I'm completing now .. this one was from the fall of 2012 ..

Once again in coming home from work, I'm driving through this sleepy little Southern town in the glow of an autumn dusk, a quarter century after arriving here in a reflective mood.

There's so much on my heart and mind about just how really dark things are getting even here in Cleveland, Tennessee a veritable buckle in the Bible Belt, where churches dot every corner and evangelical piety colors almost everything and yet with so uneven a coating and even more unequal depth .. and quality.  While it's pleasant to encounter believers all around you in a polite, discreet and conservative social vibe, it's equally unsettling and sobering to see how thoroughly so many others hold faith at length, or cynically cite it in their lives as needed by dipping from a spiritual penny dish at the convenience store counters of their souls.

I remember that Jesus commands Christians to be salt and light to a darkened world but I witness too much daily showing how horribly that mark is missed and tonight is especially no exception.

Once again, the cultural obsession with an observance of what we like to call Halloween has swept over the area. Each year, the whole city joins in the bandwagon, and no one seems to actually care that Halloween is a holiday entirely derived from pagan occultism. Seemingly harmless revelry, costuming, partying and a bizarre obsession for nicely tamed objects of horror and terror pops out of nowhere. Schools host costume parties and workplaces blossom with faux-spooky decor like bats, jack o lanterns and other stuff. For a time, middle aged women dress like zombies and little kids like Luke Skywalker or teens like vampires
from the "Twilight" movies. New movies premiere all over the place with gory, sensual bloodfests stitched loosely together by some pop occultism. Delight is drawn from things like ghost stories, haunted houses, dabbling with ouija boards and giving our imaginations and fancies over to the things of darkness.  We rise up and make the dark, violent and grotesque our playfields and reckon that such attention is harmless, hurts no one is and is American as mom, apple pie and Maglites.

So when I drove past a church in Cleveland with this sign prominently erected as seen above, it simply was heartwarming to see someone directly challenging it - apart from the "hell houses" or fall festivals many churches will supply as alternatives to the Halloween spirit. God's Word does indeed have a thing or two to say to us about this abandonment to a festival based on pagan spirituality: things that really might make you lose a little sleep at night if such things like His Word matter to you. Most people don't have a clue and even if they did, it wouldn't matter.

But we try to let people know anyhoo. We've consistently observed how this seasonal descent of our culture into a dabbling with the spooky is far from just harmless autumn leisure time.

Check out our articles on why Halloween should be considered a very unsavory time of tricking, not treating here .. and download PDF file versions you can copy and distribute. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rome, 1982: When Rome Could No Longer Be Home .. One Ex-Catholic's Remembrance


I will never forget the moment when it fully dawned on me, a newly born again believer, just how completely opposed the religion of Roman Catholicism actually is to Biblical truth. It was for me a turning point in my life.  

Raised a Roman Catholic, it was Baptist and then Church of God believers who began to break down my religious ignorance propped up by pride, carnality and ingrained tradition ... by simply sharing the Gospel of a loving God who wanted to save me from my own sinful self. I came to Jesus and begged him to be my Savior in 1981 while I was in the Navy.

Not having any mentors or believers to fully declare the truth to me, God's Spirit took me on a journey in which one by one all of the connections and revelations began to be made clear to me as to how hideously I'd been deceived into following purely human Roman tradition and not God's Word .. and I don't think it was an accident that the last one finally clicked while I was on a whirlwind 2 day tour of the Eternal City, Rome itself while my ship was anchored in the Bay of Naples in the summer of 1982. The burning into my soul of that moment still blazes in my heart, mind and spirit 32 years later.

I had been in the Vatican Museum and saw all of the unbelievable wealth, ostentation and artwork collected by the papacy over centuries of temporal power. Blow after blow of the truth kept kniving into me. Those who have not lived such a religiously blinded life completely dominated by religious programming can ever appreciate just what kind of white knuckled and soul-shattering agony it is to come to understand how wrong you've been led to live .. and all it means to you, your loved ones, your dead, your past and the present .. and all of the world itself.

This is why I feel the lonely and painful connection with those I minister to who are exiting or considering exiting leaving truly cultic organizations as they agonizedly share on how they have encountered the same kind horrific shock and the uglier consequences of losing faith. While Roman Catholicism is not a cult in the sense of the word as I have defined it, it's underlying culture at many levels can only exist by leveraging blind faith and the suspension of critical thinking the same way real cults actually do. To see this cloak finally slip and be seen for what it is provides a disillusionment like no other.

It took me, however, a quick side stop at some "famous" church in Rome to look at their own little collection of religious stuff when I came across a fresco in the ceiling of one of the church naves that froze my blood solid. Done with no expense spared, it was one of those massive works of stunningly painstaking public oil works that were meant to convey to the faithful an illustration of the faith they were to cling to.

To my old Roman Catholic sensibilities, it should have been absolutely stunning. It instead made me sick.

                            

It showed Mary, standing in heaven with the masses of the world all turning their pained eyes to her with hands outstretched in papal benediction. Jesus Christ was not depicted - but Mary herself was carrying a cross, the symbol of redemption, and was illuminated in a great aura of what could only be heavenly glory in which the Spirit as a dove was hovering above her bestowing it. The painting itself was a magnificent and massive portrayal of the power of the painters of the Renaissance at their best when the papacy put them to work to create the imagery they've used ever since to plug this uniquely grotesque and decidedly unbiblical apostasy as "Christianity."

You simply cannot begin to relate to what I'm about to say until you've lived in a culture bent toward worship prompted by artistic props and images and icons and incense and darkened alcoves filled with candles and pews. I find it difficult to begin to describe the terrible shaking that gripped me momentarily there. A tension of heart, mind and soul that completely tore all of my illusions away made me actually tremble and a cold sweat start out. All of my religious training almost drove me to my knees to do a sign of the cross and genuflect .. I could almost feel myself being pulled down to do so (no, it wasn't demons .. it was only that tradition that I'd been steeped in). All I did, however, was stare at it and feel horror and revulsion fill me to the depths of my soul at what that picture really meant in light of the Bible's teaching on the exclusivity of Jesus as Savior alone.

I had been worshipping a goddess and not God.

I had been deceived!

The Catholics I knew and loved all around me were deceived!

This was a blasphemy of the highest order I was staring at, just one lone man, in the vast, hushed marble-pillared opulence of an ancient Roman Catholic church in Rome itself. For the first time in my life, I understood what the term "seat of Satan" really meant and it filled me with a life-changing heaviness and sobriety I've never forgotten and never shaken since. A line had been crossed in my life from which I would never be the same.

Without really realizing it, still awash in the emotion and impact of the moment, I lifted my new Canon AE-1 with me and I had to snap a picture of the thing to remember this day. I still have it - as if I would forget that kind of abomination, which can be routinely seen in Roman Catholic settings globally.

So when my father, who forsook his pagan Catholic religiosity to become a Good Catholic pulled out in his home a few summers ago a vast 6 foot tall image of Our Lady of Guadelupe he's had brought to his Roman Catholic church home to have it venerated, I had to leave the room.

Roman Catholics are a harvest field of souls of unbelivable proportions that the Protestant Church has largely forsaken and almost abandoned .. but in this Laodicean age in which the church is slouching toward the end of times, why am I not surprised? 
With a Pope who has buffed off the Christ-figure mythos of his office more thoroughly than any other Pope in recent history, and who receives accolades from televangelists that include high fives, would I really expect the Protestant Church to look beyond Francis' mild image and the mad devotion it has inspired? 
And the band played on.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

How You Can Love Jesus, Hate Religion, And Still Miss Out With God

In 2012, a Christian poet named Jeff Bethke  released a video called "Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus." You can view the video and read the poem here.  It highlighted like never before in social media circles how profound the serious juncture is which the Christian faith is at,  a major crossroads of truth showing that like never before perhaps in the Church's history, there are those within it who still believe in God, Christ and the Gospel and yet are abandoning formal attendance or connection to the Christian Church in droves.

According to one online source, "
the four minute video had received 6 million views three days after its release on 10 January 2012, as well as 64,000 comments. By Saturday, 14 January 2012, the clip received 10.2 million views and over 100,000 comments.  As of today, August 10, 2014, YouTube shows it has had 27,866,608 views. 

A friend of mine decided to recommend it on their Facebook channel and I finally felt I needed to make a statement on it that is more an exhortation for those online who make clear, through their comments, that despite Bethke's apparent realization and subsequent statement that he wasn't making the video to condemn the Church, they apparently feel that way.


This is what I wrote:


This video has a lot of truth .. wrapped around one very serious assumption that is very WRONG ..

If religion = legalism, cultism and judgmentalism making Christian spirituality out to be a social club of rules, spiritual abuse and oppression, I can get where this kid comes from.

The problem is too many of you young in faith have never known what real Christian spirituality in a FELLOWSHIP based around glorifying Him and loving others in and OUT of it is really like.

You've been in a group of religious people who made a liveable faith out to be something it is NOT. You want to believe, but you don't want the bondage. I get that. I've been there. So understanding your turn off from "religion" is completely understandable.

But to despise the Christian church for the unreality, intolerance and abuse you suffered is a big, big BIG mistake.

Do you stop driving a car because you had a car accident?

Do you quit school and education because you didn't connect with people there or the teachers?

Do you stop going to doctors because you had a bad treatment with one?

The Bible teaches very plainly that you are just a member of a Body, the Church that Jesus has called out from the darkness of this world to live in heaven NOW. Jesus Christ died for the church. Jesus created the Church, Jesus passionately intercedes for the Church.

DO you hate what Jesus loved? Do you despise what He gave His life for? How deeply, authentically, honestly can the love of God dwell in you if you hate what He hung on the cross for, what His Blood was spilt for?

Think about it, my brothers .. my sisters .. those who my common faith in Christ with you makes us family.

This deeply concerns me when I see those of you who are my spiritual house hate something so precious out of misunderstanding you've been led into by those who were no doubt in horrible error. Hating religion is a passion I share .. but I know that to hate the Church is to hate what God loves. Please, please think about it.

I have been in the ministry since 1983. I came out of dead religion into new life in Jesus in 1980. I've been helping people ripped off by abusive religion for years and I completely get why people leave religion off their checklist they draw up when they escape it. I do. And I totally understand the total disillusionment with the hypocrisy and horrid example that has ripped you off in places called churches and fellowships where God was supposed to have been known. I know that.

But the Bible teaches that your spiritual destiny and potential can never healthily grow in isolation from the very thing you must turn to .. the community and support of the Body of Christ found only in the Church, the same one Christ died for ..

I hope you'll think about this. You may feel you don't need the Church, but the truth is you do .. more badly then you can possibly believe. It's not screwy religion and scam piety I urge you to seek .. but the very real places of the Spirit where the people of God, in humility and obedience, truly seek to focus their walk with God as well as their service, that they might encourage you as much as you might encourage them. They are there. They are real. Seek them, They are real.