14-Our Mother

One of the doctrines taught by the “Assembly of the Body of Christ” to maintain control of people is a teaching that "The  Body of Christ" is our "mother" and therefore we must obey it.  This they prove by quoting from the book of  Matthew in the New Testament:
While he was yet speaking to the multitudes, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, seeking to speak to him. One said to him, "Behold, your mother and your brothers stand outside, seeking to speak to you." But he answered him who spoke to him, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" He stretched out his hand towards his disciples, and said, "Behold, my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother." Matthew 12:46-50
If we read this for what it says Christ was merely stating his true family is those who do His will and follow His path. He was not, in any way, indicating who was His spiritual mother and this can be easily proven.

With this doctrine the ABC tries to prove one must heed the opinions of the leaders, a delegate of the leaders, or an assembly of  local members. Each, or all of these, dictate  based on their own opinions and perceptions what the mind of God is.  The individual, or family,  is then expected to obey these "commands of God" and may even suffer "discipline" or ex-communication if they do not follow the advice. I have seen that happen many times.

To effect this, the ABC has  established what they term  "body counsels".  These "body counsels"  are fraught with personal opinion. In these “body counsels” groups of  individuals come together to pray, read passages from the bible then offer up their own opinion on what they feel  "the mind of God" is. These opinions are dictated not with suggestion but with force. It is portended that it is as though god himself had spoken when the advice is given. There is no allowance for human error and the advice  must be obeyed.  In the past I have made some very poor life decisions because I assumed, wrongly,a "body counsel" was "the voice of God", irrefutable, and was not merely the opinions of mere men that should be looked at closely. I followed the advice blindly,without judging its validity or verifying if it was even  prudent, and suffered the consequences.

Not long before I was ex-communicated for the final time from the ABC, an individual came to me very confused.  This person had been  confronted with a huge life decision and did not know what to do. Having traveled to another meeting in another state she asked for a "body counsel". There was much talk, prayer, some reading of passages from bible  then god "told" this individual through this body counsel to make a particular decision. 

When this person returned to their  home town meeting they mentioned the need to make this major decision to the group  they normally fellowshipped with as well. Once again there was much speaking, prayer, reading of bible passages but this time there was also a “prophesy”. As god "spoke” this time through another  body counsel he "told" the individual to do the exactly the opposite thing as what was related in the meeting out of state. This very confused individual asked me; "How do I know which "God" to believe?

My answer to them was that if God was speaking to them he would speak to them directly and not through another person. While it is fine, and perhaps wise, to obtain opinions from others, it must still be regarded as that...opinion. If it were God speaking it would not be in a manner that was so easily made  frail by the presence of personal opinions. Even if the opinion “manifests through prophecy" all opinions rendered,  especially through  prophecy, must be weighed for validity since many false prophets exist in this world and there is only one who is truly wise...God. 
Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 1 Corinthians 14:29 
The largest  flaw in  this "mother" teaching is that it is impossible for Christ to be his own mother and thereby give birth to Himself. After all, if Christ's  own body is his mother, does that not then mean that Christ and the mother are one and the same. This is confusion and if we are to believe Paul to the Corinthian's "God is not the author of confusion...1 Corinthians 14:3.

This doctrine is clearly, and plainly, disproveh in the bible as I will show below. Galatians chapter 4, verse 26 offers the most clear explanation of who our spiritual mother is:
Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.   For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.  (26) But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.Galatians 4:21-31 
By this account, if we have been born of God, "Jerusalem above" is our mother and we are then a child of the freewoman.  To determine who exactly "Jerusalem above"  is, we need only look at a few other places in the bible. 

We have seen in Galatians that those born after the flesh are a child of the bondwoman, but one can be a child of the freewoman if we are born of the Spirit.   If we look at John 3, verse 6-8 we see that:
That which is born of the flesh is flesh. [but] That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don't marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born anew.' The wind  blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don't know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
This  shows a juxtaposition between those born of the flesh and those born of the Spirit.  The New Testament scripture show that Christ was born both in the flesh by Mary and he was also born of the Spirit, after his death, at his resurrection.  Thus if we follow him in the likeness of His death and resurrection we too can be born of the Spirit
And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: Romans 1:4 
If we are to believe the Old and New Testament there are many examples of God being our father.  There is little doubt that truth can be proven using the bible.  When Christ made his way to earth, He told us He came in the likeness of his Father (God).
Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. John 14:10-11 
So the bible states that Christ came to earth and dwelt among us in the image of His Father (God).  When Christ left the earth it meant we, mankind, would once again be without a representation of a spiritual  parent on earth and would again be as orphans. Take a look at John 14: 15-21:
If you love me, keep my commandments. I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor,  that he may be with you forever,-- the Spirit of truth, whom the world can't receive; for it doesn't see him, neither knows him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. One who has my commandments, and keeps them, that person is one who loves me. One who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will reveal myself to him."  John 14:15-21 
Some translations use the word "comfortless" but this is actually the Greek word "orphanos" or "orphans". Jesus assured his followers that when He left the earth, and they no longer had an image of the Father (God) dwelling among them, he would send back another image, another Counselor--the Holy Spirit--to be with them.  In short Jesus, the image of God the father is replaced by the Spirit, the image of the mother. It is the only possible way we would not be left orphans.

To encapsulate this story, prior to Jesus birth as a man, mankind was orphaned on the earth, without image of father or mother for comfort. When Christ came in the image of His Father (God) we were no longer orphans due to his presence on earth in the image of the Father. However He  knew He could not remain on earth forever in the image of the Father (God) so He assured his followers that once He left He would send back the image of the other parent; the Holy Spirit, and mankind would no longer be orphaned again (without father or mother). Jesus, in the image of the father, left us then sent back  the the image of the mother; Holy Spirit; to give us comfort and counsel.

Note what he spoke just after these statements.
I have said these things to you, while still living with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, give I to you. Don't let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful. John 14:25-27 
The true Counselor, our true mother, is clearly the Holy Spirit, not "The Body of Christ" as the ABC would have you believe.  Christ was born of the Spirit at his resurrection and  He was, I assure you,  not born of Himself.
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loves us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood...Revelation 1:5
God has fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he has raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you.Acts 13:33 
I will declare the decree: the LORD has said unto me, You are my Son; this day have I begotten you. Psalms 2:7 
The bible clearly states when Christ died and was resurrected he was born of the Spirit, born again of God, became the begotten of God, was born out of Zion (Jerusalem above) and it is He who established her womb as He became the firstborn of God, allowing us  the same exact privilege of being born of the Spirit. 
And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her. Psalms 87:5 
If God is our father then we must clearly be born of the Spirit; our mother. When this happens we then have forever  within us the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father [] send[s] in [Christ's] name, [and] he will teach you all things. John 14:15 [paraphrased].  If we are born of God and born of the Spirit we have identified who our true parents are. In short....the body of Christ cannot be it's own mother and if counsel is to be given it must come directly from the Holy Spirit within. The rest is opinion and must be weighed.


NEXT POST

It Hurts

Some may read this site who have never gone through the pain of being ex-communicated. For you I include this poem, written by Jan Groenweld, an Australian, who was apparently hurt by an organization similar to the Assembly of the Body of Christ. There are unfortunately many groups in the world just like the ABC. Permission is granted for reprinting her poem provided reference is made to the original source.

I have experienced, or know someone that has experienced, nearly every single emotion of which she has written. In this situation you find yourself suddenly very alone, often angry and filled with grief. Only time heal these deep wounds.
"It Hurts"
By Jan Groenveld

IT HURTS to discover you were deceived - that what you thought was the "one true religion," the "path to total freedom," or "truth" was in reality a cult.
IT HURTS when you learn that people you trusted implicitly - whom you were taught not to question - were "pulling the wool over your eyes" albeit unwittingly.
IT HURTS when you learn that those you were taught were your "enemies" were telling the truth after all -- but you had been told they were liars, deceivers, repressive, satanic etc and not to listen to them.
IT HURTS when you know your faith in God hasn't changed - only your trust in an organization - yet you are accused of apostasy, being a trouble maker, a "Judas". It hurts even more when it is your family and friends making these accusations.
IT HURTS to realize their love and acceptance was conditional on you remaining a member of good standing. This cuts so deeply you try and suppress it. All you want to do is forget - but how can you forget your family and friends?
IT HURTS to see the looks of hatred coming from the faces of those you love - to hear the deafening silence when you try and talk to them. It cuts deeply when you try and give your child a hug and they stand like a statue, pretending you aren't there. It stabs like a knife when you know your spouse looks upon you as demonized and teaches your children to hate you.
IT HURTS to know you must start all over again. You feel you have wasted so much time. You feel betrayed, disillusioned, suspicious of everyone including family, friends and other former members.
IT HURTS when you find yourself feeling guilty or ashamed of what you were - even about leaving them. You feel depressed, confused, lonely. You find it difficult to make decisions. You don't know what to do with yourself because you have so much time on your hands now - yet you still feel guilty for spending time on recreation.
IT HURTS when you feel as though you have lost touch with reality. You feel as though you are "floating" and wonder if you really are better off and long for the security you had in the organization and yet you know you cannot go back.
IT HURTS when you feel you are all alone - that no one seems to understand what you are feeling. It hurts when you realize your self confidence and self worth are almost non-existent.
IT HURTS when you have to front up to friends and family to hear their "I told you so" whether that statement is verbal or not. It makes you feel even more stupid than you already do - your confidence and self worth plummet even further.
IT HURTS when you realize you gave up everything for the cult - your education, career, finances, time and energy - and now have to seek employment or restart your education. How do you explain all those missing years?
IT HURTS because you know that even though you were deceived, you are responsible for being taken in. All that wasted time........ at least that is what it seems to you - wasted time.
THE PAIN OF GRIEF
Leaving a cult is like experiencing the death of a close relative or a broken relationship. The feeling is often described as like having been betrayed by someone with whom you were in love. You feel you were simply used.

There is a grieving process to pass through. Whereas most people understand that a person must grieve after a death etc, they find it difficult to understand the same applies in this situation. There is no instant cure for the grief, confusion and pain. Like all grieving periods, time is the healer. Some feel guilty, or wrong about this grief. They shouldn't -- It IS normal. It is NOT wrong to feel confused, uncertain, disillusioned, guilty, angry, untrusting - these are all part of the process. In time the negative feelings will be replaced with clear thinking, joy, peace, and trust.
YES - IT HURTS BUT THE HURTS WILL HEAL WITH TIME, PATIENCE & UNDERSTANDING
There is life after the cult.

Copyright (c) Jan Groenveld Cult Awareness & Information Centre, PO Box 2444, Mansfield, 4122, Australia (61-(0)7-3216 8514)

13-Monroe WA

By 1973 "the group" had been growing, and changing, for about four years. It was operating well now it seemed,  all on its own, in various peoples homes and the turmoil over tithe, autonomy and power, while still brewing beneath the surface, was all but invisible to newcomers. Newcomers simply accepted that the way things were was how it had always been. They had no clue about the previous turmoils that had occurred. Since the newcomers knew no different way they were not seeking to go back to “the old way”. My dad had "back burnered" the disputes during this period and that helped end most of the arguments that were pervasive in the King and Snohomish county area. At the Monroe farm the focus changed to preparations for starting a "traveling ministry" instead of simply moving about the Seattle home groups. My dad also began to devote a great deal of his time to writing and produced several booklets; 17 Ways, Righteouness, Peace and Joy, Concerning Baptism; and papers such as the "Dear Jon Letter" shown below.
Dear Jon Letter
Dear Jon Letter

(Click page image above for entire text.)

During Spring Break 1973 my dad was leaving the house and invited me to go with him.  On this venture we went to a bank where he met a man from "the group" named Doug. Doug was a Viet Nam veteran who had been severely injured during a surgery gone awry years before. As a result of the botched surgery he had received a sizable settlement from the VA. On several occasions dad sought funds from Doug to keep things going and Doug made frequent “special offerings” for  the requested need. On this particular day we were at the bank to pick up a check from Doug  intended to purchase an old school bus. It was my dad's intention to use the bus as a traveling home while he ministered from state to state. The school bus had been previously converted to a camper and when he picked it up he felt it was livable. That plan was immediately vetoed by Yvonne after she took one look inside. The bus would have been great for camping, but full time living would definitely have been primitive. My dad set to work gutting the bus with the intent to rebuild.
Bus
After a few days had gone by a man in "the group", Jim, visited the farm to let his Irish Setters run in the pastures. While he was there, my dad showed him the bus, discussed his plan and talked about its deficiencies. Jim walked around the bus, examined all of its details then simply stated with a smile; "I know how to fix that". By the end of that day the two had cut the bottom of the front door off, cut a new door hole near the back and fitted a new door. It then took a couple of months and my dad and Jim had a master bedroom area constructed in the back, a kitchen ahead of that and a tiny bath situated in the middle. Front of that were two bunks behind the drivers area for my step-siblings Jon and Lavonne. Later, as Jon and LaVonne became older, two “humps” (as shown in the picture above) were added to the top of bus as loft bedrooms.  On the bus a painted sword tip was initially added to symbolize the “sword of the Lord going out into the land.” This was painted over years later and not added back on.

For me, that spring and final semester of high school went fast. That summer, in July, I would turn eighteen and finally be free. I had only two classes remaining to obtain my high school diploma so my school days were abbreviated and I had a bit more spare time. I filled this time mending fences and caring for the herd of cows behind our house.   As graduation approached, the pace of life at the farm became  busy as my dad and Yvonne made final preparations for moving into the the bus. It was a lengthy process deciding what they could take into the bus and what needed to be left behind. The remainders were either packed and stored or given away. In May we began the process of cleaning up the house for moving out and I was spared the last few weeks of clean up since I contracted  chicken pox and nearly missed commencement.

After commencement there was a small party for me at a restaurant and the next morning my dad drove me to my oldest brothers place in Everett, said a quick goodbye as he dropped me off, then left instructions with my brother he was teach me how to drive and give me a place to stay. Then he was gone. That same day he and Yvonne and step-siblings finished moving the last things into the bus and hit the road for Grants Pass Oregon. I have many times joked that I never left home, it just moved away from me, but in reality that is exactly what happened.

The Monroe farm brought about the end of an era for me as I was no longer privy to the inner workings of my dads life. The years of hearing about all the behind the scenes turmoil ended and life seemed much more peaceful now. I was no longer under Yvonne's constant put downs, name calling and domineering as well. It was great. Many complained about Yvonne’s dominant ways but it is much worse to have lived in the same house.  Where previously I was at three or four meetings per week, sometimes even more, I now just attended the usual Thursday Foundation and Saturday Communion meeting. 

It felt good to be free but there were issues. My oldest brother had just returned from Viet Nam and, after just a few months living in his apartment, it became clear my staying there was not a good idea. I was counseled by my dad and Yvonne that I should move to Grants Pass Oregon and find work there. I used my final paycheck, and a small amount of savings, to fund my way. I stayed in Grants Pass less than a month as I was unable to find a job. A man in "the group", named Harvey, called and told me he had a job for me in Klamath Falls Oregon at the Winema Hotel. He said I could stay with he, and his new wife, until I got settled and found my own place to live. So, I moved to K-Falls.

My dad, during this time, had moved on to Santa Cruz California from Grants Pass in the bus. There he had started three meetings in three homes in three cities. He also had a fourth meeting, monthly, in Paradise CA at the home of a woman named Vivian. Vivian would be responsible for re-introducing one of the stranger doctrines into "the group"; which then persisted for a number of years...even though it was not actually accepted by most. This doctrine alleged that persons of color were not human but were instead "beasts of the field". In other words they were the same as animals and therefore could not find salvation. This doctrine had shown up in Mountlake Terrace briefly but Vivian was voraciously vocal on the subject and my dad bought in big time. She based this doctrine on the scripture in Genesis which reads:
And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Genesis 3:14-15
Her take on this scripture was that Satan; the chief "beast of the field"; was a black man, and he had conned "white" Adam and Eve into sinning and... well, it was a very weird teaching but to my, and other peoples, embarrassment dad picked up the ball and ran with it for quite a number of years after that. Vivian had been born and raised in the deep south and was a white supremacist who belonged to a fringe Pentecostal group. How my dad could adopt this teaching was as much beyond me then as it is now.

My dad later changed his mind on this subject when a black man named Aubrey; a friend of someone in "the group"; came to him and asked to be baptized. He held a meeting of a few of the men to determine if this was even possible scripturally to baptize Aubrey.  I was at that meeting and the overwhelming consensus was that Aubrey was a man and so it was possible. This caused a reversal in his thinking and so Aubrey was baptized.

I had lived in K-Falls for about six months when my dad called to counsel me that God wanted me to move to Santa Cruz CA to help with his new work. Harvey, and his wife Kathy,were also counseled that "since God was not blessing K-Falls" they should also move to Santa Cruz which they did. Harvey was appointed as an elder there. I moved to Santa Cruz as instructed pulling the travel trailer I was living in. My dad promised if I moved it to the park where they were staying in the bus he would help me get settled and on my feet financially. After several months a major problem developed in the groups, in all three cities, which ended all three meetings overnight.  I never did learn of the exact details; I have my suspicions: but within a week my dad left California completely, drove the bus back up to the Seattle area and parked it at Apex Airpark. 

Apex airpark was a private airstrip / housing community in Silverdale WA owned by a woman named Roberta Walker.  Roberta had opened her home and property to 'the group" and held meetings in her home. I remained in Santa Cruz but, a short time later, Harvey and his wife also moved away and I was left alone there, with little money, working part time as a dishwasher, unable to  buy food. One of my neighbors in the RV park, as well as the assistant manager of the restaurant where I worked, helped me out with food while I applied for food stamps but it became evident I could not stay in Santa Cruz. I called my dad to see what I should do. Move to Silverdale, he counseled, but more on that in a later post.

In my next post I will cover the origins of a major doctrine of control used by the ABC as the introduction of the "disciplining / shepherding"movement brings about the doctrine of "body council".

NEXT POST

12-History


Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good life his works with meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, boast not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by them that make peace. James 3:13-18 
If we are to believe these words above, and the book  from which they are derived, we must admit that the ways of God are peaceable, gentle, full of mercy and truth.  Those who claim to have wisdom, but yield only strife without a meekness of wisdom are, according to these words, earthly and perhaps even following demonic doctrines. It states people that are not peaceable are full of confusion and, in reality,  are not doing God’s work but are really just working  evil. Please forgive me as I use of a little figurative language in this post  to illustrate this point but it seemed the best option at hand.

History has seen many authoritarian, legalistic, religious men and movements rise like huge waves  upon the land intent on capturing men for their own purpose. These  movements  push at mankind's shore then recede, leaving only faint ripples in the sands of time and in the process they cast off bits of flotsam. Those who witness the event do their best to describe it but find it nearly impossible. They can only point to the ripples left  in the sand as evidence of what has occurred. They may perhaps hold up bits of  cast off flotsam as evidence the destructive wave was once there. They may even try  to form an adequate picture of what occurred, but the picture never quite comes close to describing the actual fury of the event.

As I write this history of the ABC  I too am left with only bare traces in the sands of my and other peoples memories. I have some  knowledge of where the bits of  cast off flotsam lay but most has disappeared with time. All that is left now is the retelling. From the ripples in the sands of time, and the remaining bits of cast off flotsam, I attempt to piece together the dynamics of the wave that struck the shores of my and other peoples life. My singular perspective, aided with various recounts of history, is the best I can do to retell the fury and lack of grace that accompanied the destructive waves that crashed upon the shore. It is a sometime difficult task.

I have been witness to more than one destructive wave that passed through the ABC. During my time within it’s walls there were two large waves of destruction that passed through and many small ones which did less damage but were still very rogue. Part of me became a  bit of that cast off flotsam in both of the large waves I was witness to.

I now inhabit the shore, having escaped the last wave successfully, and around me lay bits of  cast off flotsam among the ripples in the sands of time. Those that remain, and remember the storms, occasionally peer out to sea, watching  for the next batch of  clouds to form that will produce yet another destructive  wave. It is my hope there will be no more flotsam cast ashore because the flotsam I refer to are living breathing men, women and children who are left severely weakened by the churning of the wave. But I know history repeats itself and, among the  appearance of calm within the ABC, another storm brews somewhere just beyond the horizon. The day will com when another storm will appear in the distance, building waves ahead of it’s surge, and a new round of cast off flotsam will be flung to the shore.  I know  firsthand the awesome power of  these destructive waves and how much damage they do to peoples lives. I hope others will be spared the fury but the best I can do is warn others to stay away.

Before the first wave ever crested in the sea of the Assembly of the Body of Christ (ABC), before the first bit of flotsam was pushed from the ranks, there was a man who sang he sang he had written to "the group". It began;
Can't you see that flash of fire
Ten times brighter than the day
For behold that mighty city
How we've failed you once again.
There are many verses to the song but the chorus below  repeats several times,
Oh Lord, God of man
How we've failed you once again
Look around, start once more
Follow him, while you can.
This man stayed around in "the group" for just a few short weeks. After he departed, this song, "Mystery Babylon", was re-interpreted to be about “those other people”, the ones on the outside of the ABC, who were trapped in "Mystery Babylon" denominational churches. We, “the chosen”,  huddled safely under our unnamed non-denominational tower, speaking our common language,  knowing we were secure and protected in "The Body of Christ" and could not be scattered. We did not understand then that, not far in the future, we would become just like the denominations we pointed to. We too would acquire a name which denominated our tower. Just like the others we pointed to. We did not know that soon a corporate body would be birthed for the sole purpose of hiding the  gold. I too felt protected in those days but, inwardly, I also wondered if this song was not really a warning to us all. Perhaps it was time to look around, start again in a new, right, way...while there was still time.  I wish we had.

There were others that felt this was a warning too but, "for the sake of unity"  said nothing.  Keeping quiet “for the sake of unity” is a major doctrine in the ABC just as it is a major theme in every other cult.  We, every one of us, remained quiet beneath our proverbial tower, and continued to point the finger at the  denominational masses  "outside" who called themselves by a name and worshiped in their brick and mortar buildings.  We felt pure in our pride.

We were certain we were different since we had no brick tower. We were certain God looked on us with more favor because we worshiped in homes instead.  We cried out proudly  to those we saw "in Mystery Babylon" in an attempt to “rescue them from the pit”. We talked endlessly of our  hope of "drawing them out of Babylon" so they too could find "peace and safety" just like us beneath our, as yet unnamed, virtual tower constructed from a "new" design. 

Only a few short years drifted by, after this song was introduced, before the first storm began to brew at sea. Soon a large wave could be seen rising in the distance and it would rise up out of the seas of the "the group" and, with great fury, cast its flotsam to the shore. The ripples, though greatly faded now, can still be seen to this day, if one looks closely.

In Genesis there was once a people who said, "Come, let's build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top reaches to the sky, and let's make ourselves a name, lest we be scattered abroad on the surface of the whole earth." That story is found in Genesis 11 and took place not long after man first became upon the earth:
The whole earth was of one language and of one speech. It happened, as they traveled east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they lived there. They said one to another, "Come, let's make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." They had brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, "Come, let's build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top reaches to the sky, and let's make ourselves a name, lest we be scattered abroad on the surface of the whole earth." Yahweh came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built. Yahweh said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is what they begin to do. Now nothing will be withheld from them, which they intend to do. Come, let's go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." So Yahweh scattered them abroad from there on the surface of all the earth. They stopped building the city. Therefore the name of it was called Babel, because there Yahweh confused the language of all the earth. From there, Yahweh scattered them abroad on the surface of all the earth. Genesis 11:1-9
One of the prevailing doctrines in “the group” which was then carried over into the “Assembly of the Body of Christ” is that one must never vocalize a differing opinion, challenge the leadership, or balk at a "discipline" lest "the unity of the body" be disrupted. Silence is rewarded with false peace. It was worried that the "new babes" would discover the turmoil that brewed beneath the surface then become injured or leave but it was deceitful and dishonest to bury the underlying turmoil and to pretend unity. It is this same doctrine that caused God to destroy the tower man created at Babel and then scatter the perpetrators. The tower was only a hoax of safety. The tower was simply a prideful act and those that sheltered under this tower thought they had found a perfect unity in language. They had convinced themselves they could now see eye to eye on all things an be “perfectly united under God”. It was a false unity of their own design.

The tower of Babel stood within the ancient city of Babylon. This is disclosed in Zechariah 5:11 which shows Babylon was in the plains of Shinar so Babylon is precisely where the tower of Babel stood. What we have today in authoritarian, legalistic  movements like the "Assembly of the Body of Christ"; as well as others which demand a false "unity"  by enforced silence or by destroying and casting off anyone who disagrees with the leadership; is simply another manifestation of  Babel. But this time it is a Mystery (or hidden) Babel or Babylon.

One of the main facets of Mystery (or hidden) Babylon is the constructing of a tower; whether brick and mortar or virtual; for the purpose of having a common name and common language. While this does give one a sense of safety in belonging to a movement, it is   a false sense of security.  Building towering movements like “the group" / "ABC” that are perceived as "perfect and in order"  or "God's perfect will"  is not what God intended for his creation.

The United States has satellites that fly high above the earth looking for any anomaly that might indicate a threat to our nation.  Man-made threats are easy to pinpoint because  man-made objects are built using man's geography; that is with straight lines, squares and perfect circles. God, in my view, has a better geography. This geography, on the surface, seems chaotic and random but science calls this fractal geometry. It is by this complex, random fractal design the entire universe is constructed. What seems random, chaotic and imperfect to the mind of man actually creates a perfection, strength and longevity man is not able to duplicate.  Compare the lines of a mighty, gnarly, towering oak to that of a man-made straight wall sky scraping tower.  Which is stronger?  The oak will outlive most of us and the towers we construct are fragile indeed. It is written that  God's ways are not our ways and His ways are not ours.  Perhaps God's kingdom is of a chaotic, fractal random design that yields patterns that are not only beautiful, but  strong  as well, perfect and devoid of the straight line designs of man.

Why do we, as mere men, feel we must build our proper square and perfect circle or square towers of religious authoritarian movements? Why do we then huddle under these towers and demand all around us have a common name and a common language? Is not God everywhere and not contained?
Where could I go from your Spirit? Or where could I flee from your presence? If I ascend up into heaven, you are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there! If I take the wings of the dawn, And settle in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there your hand will lead me, And your right hand will hold me. Psalms 139:7-10
In my view God does not desire straight wall towering authoritarian movements like the ABC.  It does not matter if we have constructed  our towers from brick and mortar or created them virtually through house movements. Any attempt by man to design and build a tower that is "perfect and in order" is truly vain. It is only God who can  build the house and unless He builds it the laborers are laboring in vain.
Jesus, when speaking to Nicodemus about being born again, said:
The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don't know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." John 3:8
God's kingdom is designed to be carried on the wind throughout all of the earth like seeds that cannot be confined or controlled.
He said, "The Kingdom of God is as if a man should cast seed on the earth, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring up and grow, he doesn't know how.  Mark 4:26-27
So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 1 Corinthians 3:7 
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. Isaiah 55:8-13 
Imagine if the lives of those touched by God were quickly edified, just as nature designed, and were then set free into the world like seeds on the wind.  They would blow about without constraint or imposed guilt. To man this may seem chaotic and uncontrolled but, like the rest of God's creation, it is a fractal perfection that yields beauty...not bondage.

One imposition of the ABC is that, once you have stepped below its tower, you are not free to leave.  You must continue to pay your homage and tithe to the ABC, even if you feel God is taking you elsewhere. That is bondage.

If you leave the base of the ABC  tower, you are considered "out of fellowship" or "in the wilderness" and are usually visited by emissaries who try to draw you back beneath the base of the  tower “for the sake of unity. (Cancer cells have the same reasoning within them. Cancer cell clusters are very unified to their own strength but are very destructive to the whole.)  Should one return to the base of the tower they return as one who has “been outside the walls” so they must then prove themselves to be worthy of the tower again. They must prove they are trustworthy to its people. Most  often you simply are never truly trusted again.

Another imposition is that you must speak in exacting words, follow the exacting  patterns previously laid down. It is assumed in the ABC this pattern was designed by my father Ramon A Haas. This, as we have seen, is a myth and a wrong assumption. Any variance from the established ABC order, any questioning of authority, no matter how small, is treated as dissent and rebellion and is dealt with harshly through "discipline" or ex-communication. The Assembly of the Body of Christ (ABC)  retains a facade of "peace and safety" on the surface but beneath that surface lies a great churning turmoil. The churn is remnant of the many storms that passed through and now lay just beyond the horizon.   Those who vary from the accepted language, or challenge a doctrine set down by the leadership, in even the smallest degree, will find themselves caught up in this turmoil and cast like flotsam from the next destructive wave.  Those who remain, hand in hand, beneath the towering wave "protecting the unity" are unaware they are really just in Babylon, held in a yoke of bondage and are living in a cancerous system.
Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 2 Corinthians 3:17
Stand firm therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and don't be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
"Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
 
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11-Lake Forest Park

In 1972 a man named Ray offered us the use of his home to use in Lake Forest Park. He and his family had been in "the group" for just a short time and in his effort to “help the cause” he allowed us to live in this home without payment.  Having moved already eighteen times in less than seventeen years I was not thrilled with having to move again. It would also mean yet another change of schools and since I was now in high school I really did not want to change schools again. I spoke with the school and they allowed me a waiver to cross district boundaries and continue at the same school. I walked eight miles round trip each day from Lake Forest Park to the school and back. I enjoyed the walk, became somewhat fit in the process and continue to walk long distances on a regular basis today.

Three years had gone by since the Wilcrest Apartment days and "the group" had grown in numbers  substantially. The grumblings were still present but were effectively kept beneath the surface. Most new members were not even aware there was trouble brewing beneath the surface and they saw only new friendships and pasted smiles.  The grumblings focused still on the use of tithe money and the autonomy of the meetings. These were the same issues that had plagued “the group” since the very first split.  Most speaking up were  feeling like they were not being heard so this created great agitation just beneath the surface...waiting for an outlet.

Meeting homes had changed quite a bit over the years and now, in 1972, there were regularly scheduled home meetings in Snohomish WA, West Seattle, Lynnwood WA, Everett WA, Grants Pass OR, and  a  few other homes I may have forgotten. There were a few  individuals who had been baptized in the ABC  but did not live close to an existing home meeting so we would visit them on occasion, hold small communion meetings in their homes with just their families then travel home the same night. My dad adopted the title of “Circuit Rider” since we seemed to be always on the road.

The tithe remained centralized and all home meetings under the direction of my dad paid their  money directly to him and Yvonne. My step-mother remained in charge of the  books and none of the tithe was given back to each home group to decide how it was spent, nor were they ever given any accounting of how it was spent. This would eventually culminate in a major split in the group decimating some of the home groups north of Seattle. They were then reformed into the homes of others.

Having all of the tithe directed to my dad meant he now had enough money to pass "Medic Repair" on to Earl. This was given to him to win his support in the tithe war and his home in Snohomish WA became a site of meetings.  It was essentially Earl's business now and my dad was free to focus his time on writing books, making tapes and traveling in a circuit Thursdays and Saturdays to different home meetings in two states. For me, this meant I  heard each of his teachings at least  half a  dozen times as we traveled from home to home. 

Within a few weeks after moving to Lake Forest Park my stepmother, Yvonne; a woman who ruled all children with an iron fist; determined I was a rebellious teen and needed to  be put "on strict discipline".  There was no explanation given to me of what I did to earn this title past being "rebellious”. I am assuming being seventeen now I sought some autonomy from the family but no examples of my "rebellion" were given and I still wonder to this day what brought about such a fierce discipline.

The discipline  chosen for my "teen rebellion" was that I would be confined to my bedroom for my entire Junior year in high school unless I was at a church meeting or in school. During this confinement, I was to do my homework first, then any remaining time left was to be spent reading the bible and doing Greek Word Studies from John  Stegenga’s book.  To prove I had been studying the bible, and not just sitting in my room,  I had to write a weekly report on what I had learned from the Greek word studies.  Each Friday night I was made to sit with Yvonne, read her my report and listen to her critique.  She would be ultra-demeaning in these sessions and they were tortuous. It was of course her opinion against mine and there was not much give and take.  The upside was I did become very good at doing research and used that  to my advantage later as it allowed me to get out of the final months of that "discipline". 

During this period my dad was in the middle of developing a new teaching on Creation, including  information on the “Pre-Adamic world” and  how dinosaurs fit in to the scheme of earth history.  I had signed up for several extra-curricular activities in high school, one of them working as an aide in the teachers center creating  materials for the school staff; the other in the library audio-visual department operating the projectors and organizing the films. This  allowed me access to school facilities after hours. I struck a deal  with my dad that I would stay behind at school each day doing research for him and would type up excerpts from books and articles related to the science of creation for him. He went along with the deal and so I would prepare slides of pictures in books and type then mimeograph his notes. This I offered to do in exchange  for being  freed from the remaining confinement in my room to do Greek word studies and participation in the hellish sessions with Yvonne. I considered it a small victory since it got me away from the house into a little more "normalcy" and, under this arrangement, I  would return home just in time for dinner then go to my room to do my homework.  It wasn't perfect, but not as bad as the full time room confinement,  report writing and sessions with Yvonne. 

Being  considered "rebellious" is a label I have lived with, on and off,  for many many years. Eventually I just learned to live with it but , I suppose, since I am writing this history, I am once again no doubt considered a rebel. I was "brought before the elders"  more times than I can possibly  list here and for things that would normally have been just parental guidance or fatherly instruction to a teen or young adult. It was humiliating being brought before the elders for very minor offenses or being publicly defamed before the whole church.  In  my senior year I began to have anxiety attacks from the stresses being put on me but these did not concern my dad or Yvonne.  It was just more proof I was “in sin” and “rebellious”. 

This label of "rebellious" has been attached to many people and they too have been "disciplined" and humiliated before all in the same manner. The discipline of others  included things such as being commanded not to speak with anyone else, both in and out of the meetings,  being forced to sit in the back of the room or being forbidden to take communion or eat with others. It was intentionally humiliating treatment and this manner of  "discipline" continues in the ABC. It is very wrong.

The Lake Forest Park days lasted not quite a year and a half, ending halfway through my senior year in high school.  It was then time to move...again...but this time there would be no walking to school since we moved about  twenty miles north to a large farm in Monroe WA .  This move was being made to allow room for the purchase of  a large bus which was to be converted to a "mobile ministering machine" and would be used to bring the ABC to other states then eventually to Mexico. In my next post, after a short bit about general  history, I will continue my time progression by covering  this Monroe WA era.

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10-The Big Brown House

The stench at the "sewer house" had become unbearable and something had to be done. A city inspector was called but  tests showed the property simply would not perk so the septic tank issue was not fixable. Without connection to city sewer service the home was to be condemned. These tract homes had  been built without proper permits; when Mountlake Terrace was a newly forming city and not paying attention; so  there were quite a number of homes affected. The city began work on a plan to rescue the entire neighborhood, rather than condemn it completely, but that fix would take years. In the meantime, the home was uninhabitable and so we had to move.

My dad located a  huge four bedroom rental home, still in Mountlake Terrace, not far from the "sewer house". Due to it's size and color it would become known as the "big brown house" and was the site of  major changes for both our family and "the group".  It was at this house my brother graduated high school,  left home then soon married. (The ABC believes in arranged marriages and this was an arranged marriage.) My dad quit his  job and started a successful business called "Medic Repair" so he could have a more flexible schedule.  Many new people would be introduced to the group at this house; some young, some old, and more of the previous members would leave. The numbers continued to grow to the point that even the large living room could not handle it so the meetings were split again.

The previous attempted breaking up of "the group" into three smaller meetings had caused quite a bit of unrest and those original squabbles once again began rising to the surface. The central point of the new arguments was a huge disagreement over who should fellowship at who's house. One individual wanted "district lines" drawn.  In his plan,  if you lived in such and such district you would fellowship at so and so's house. Most just wanted the freedom to fellowship wherever and with whomever they wished, whenever they wanted.  To end the squabbling, a decision was  made; by whom I do not know, that for a short period the "Foundation Meetings", on Thursdays, would be held in three separate homes but the "Communion Meetings", on Saturdays, intended only for those who had been baptized in the ABC, would be combined back into one single meeting in our large living room at the "big brown house".  This worked fine at first, and the return to a single Saturday "Communion Meeting" eased some of the tensions, but it was apparent our living room, even though quite large, would never handle the ever increasing crowd. A return to three separate Saturday meetings  was inevitable but this time it would be at different homes than were used before to avoid any more "trouble".

It was now 1971 and this would be the year of the very first "All-Church Gathering". The gathering was not officially called the "all-church" yet the first year, and was really nothing more than just a  picnic in a large park in Snohomish County Washington, but this single event would bring about the custom of having all of the home meetings everywhere gather once each year in a central rented facility. It was open to all persons the first two years but it was then decided "outsiders" would be prohibited from attending. Only those who had been baptized in the ABC were  allowed to attend and this practice continues.

At the big brown house, my dad, now self-employed and able to schedule his own work, began making regular  trips to Grants Pass Oregon to hold small meetings with Gilbert Larson (the current apostle of the ABC) and his close friend Pat, who drove over from Klamath Falls. Gilbert Larson would eventually marry a woman named CaraLee  in  Grants Pass and most members of her family would   began  attending  the meetings as well, some becoming elders in "the group".  They, in turn, brought to the meetings other acquaintances and before long Grants Pass had regularly scheduled weekly meetings on both Thursday and Saturday. Many years later, after disagreements over autonomy and money, every single person who lived in Grants Pass either left "the group", left town, or found themselves forced out through ex-communication.  I will discuss that in more detail in a later post. As a result there are no longer any persons in Grants Pass directly associated with the ABC. The meetings ended decades ago.

This pattern of growth, then sudden annihilation, has played  itself out many many times in the history of the ABC and is a direct result of  the overbearing, legalistic, authoritarian leadership tactics devoid of mercy, compassion and love.  The doctrinal philosophies of the ABC inevitably lead to the shunning and ex-communication of members over minor disagreements. Most times it results in not just one person but instead  large swaths of people finding themselves accused of some "crime" against God (as I was numerous times). This would then be followed by a frenzy of furious spiritual and emotional backstabbings, browbeatings and thumbsquashing  by the leaders. This tactic destroys a person completely leaving broken people behind to wonder what happened to their life and joy. These spiritual "stabbings" and "beatings" do not even spare family members. The justification given for this practice  is the scripture that reads:
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:34-37
But if we are to count the bible as a guidebook Jesus also said:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
Additionally He warned us we should not be like those that lay heavy burdens on others,
[The scribes and the Pharisees]...bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments...Matthew 23:4-5
I have watched individuals and whole families be destroyed by the leadership and doctrines  of the ABC.  The ABC praises the  making of broad phylacteries filled with the derivation of  Greek and Hebrew words and tenses but, at the same time, they feel they have achieved a higher plain of perfection than all others. It is an egotistical view and thus they can easily find justification when they suddenly and viciously turn on others.  I am just as guilty over the years of going along but I woke up and saw my error.

There are two lions mentioned in the scriptures. The Lion of Judah, for which it is safe for even the smallest lamb to lie with in peace without fear of torment, and then there is  the devil, [who] the bible states walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I have seen souls crushed and devoured by the "disciplines" of the ABC. There came that day I asked myself the question. Which lion do we/they actually represent? The lion of Judah, or the lion who seeks to devour? For me, the evidence spoke for itself. It is unfortunate it took being  nearly “devoured” by the falsehoods before I saw the ABC for what it really is. A vicious cult that has deceived many.
 
In the next post, our family moves from the "big brown house" to Lake Forest Park, my dad in exchange for a truce over the tithe squabble gives his business to Earl and he begins full time ministry as the recognized "apostle" of "the group".

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9-The Sewer House

Our move to the "sewer house" brought changes to "the group". “The group” would eventually become known as "The Assembly of the Body of Christ" (ABC) but for now “the group” was still the only reference to a name. That simplicity was a draw for many who had left organized religion and some of the more unusual practices which began at the Wilcrest Apartments; such as chopping up, or burning  "demon possessed" furniture; began to drop away. In their place other weird doctrines began to surface instead. As example. one teaching stated persons of color were not human but were actually beasts of the field and thus could not be “saved”. This, and other doctrines,would make brief appearances in the ABC and would then disappear for a while only to resurface later.

The sewer house had the advantage of a large garage which was easily converted into a "church building" of sorts complete with rows of folding chairs, a pulpit-like podium, and a huge whiteboard on the wall. The informal living room meetings were now gone and the change to a dedicated structure, with rows of chairs, did not sit well with the original attendees from the Wilcrest apartment days. They had come to "the group" because they were looking for something less conventional than pews in church and now felt "the group" was drifting back toward becoming just like a regular church. A few drifted away and with those remaining there were many discussions about this subject, some very heated. It was decided that the meetings were becoming  too large to be informal and that it would be best if “the group” split into two or three smaller groups. By splitting the meeting between two or more houses the meetings could return to the informal  living room format everyone loved and this was expected to end the grumbling. That would prove not to be.

To make this split required more leaders. Elders were appointed following what was the perceived pattern of the early church. These men, it was determined, must be married, have some bible knowledge and be respected among the people.  A few men were then appointed as elders, the meetings were split into three separate houses headed up by these new "elders", and my dad would be as an "apostle" over them.

One of the  meetings would stay at the "sewer house' but move out of the garage and back into the living room. Another would be at a man named Gary's house, and the third was to be at a man named Earl's house. Each new group would be an autonomous unit united, in theory, “by the Spirit”. Each would be responsible for the collection of  it's  own tithe and each group was free to use the money collected as they saw fit. They could essentially take control of the meetings as completely their own.

This tithe arrangement worked fine for just a short while. My dad; claiming the title of Apostle, (he claimed this title because he had now spawned three new churches) was not happy with the amount the new “churches” decided to send him each month. He was still operating his hospital repair business; Medic Repair; but wanted badly to end it and "minister" full time. This became a point of continuous contention between my dad, Gary, Earl and a few others. There were multiple heated "men's" meetings on this subject but that only created more huge emotionally charged issues. Eventually one of the groups, dismayed by the insistence that a large percentage of the tithe collected be sent to my dad as Apostle, stopped sending the money  altogether. This started a division in the “unity” and a bitter feud began to unfold beneath the surface. All appeared well on the outside to newcomers; as if love reigned;  but under the surface a serious fire was raging.

As with many feuds the true issue, the division of the tithe, got lost completely in the chatter and another smaller issue was argued in its place. In this case the small issue, the sticking point, would be the question: "Does a person receive the Holy Spirit as they are going into the water at baptism, or as they are coming out of the water at baptism?" I honestly don't remember who was in which camp; the argument seemed totally pointless to me; and I, still a teen then, did not get involved. How could one ever prove this point anyhow? My dad selected one principle nemesis in the feud, Gary, since he was a man who had had political aspirations and was well versed in questioning things in a Socratic manner. Questioning will always get you labeled as a rebel in the ABC. The war began and would last a long time.

Gary’s questionings of the status quo were perceived by my dad as "rebellion". This accusation of "rebellion" is a common thread in the ABC; questioning is forbidden.  There was a meeting; years later; where this individual, Gary, sought a way to end the feud. My dad, still angry about the money, began to accuse this man of trying to be an "apostle" and adamantly refused to end the feud. I was quite embarrassed about the feuding, and really just wanted a way out of it all. I was still living at home and did not have the courage or ability  to leave.

These meetings over 'the issues" would, sometime later, lead to the first ex-communication in the ABC. At least two vicious letters, deriding Gary as a "rebel", were sent to everyone in "the group", along with an audiotape intended to prove  he was evil. These letters and tape were some of the things I kept in the box in my garage that was taken many years later. We were all instructed to have nothing more to do with Gary, or his family, as well as the others that defended him. We were instructed that if we ever spoke to Gary again we too would be ex-communicated. Immediately after this letter two other families who were perceived to be in Gary's camp were also ex-communicated and  put out of “the group”.  All three of these families  were eventually "turned over to Satan" as well.

I ran into one of these three men many many years later. He was still a broken man from the experience and reported these events had caused him major depression and a lapse into alcoholism. He had just returned from a rehab center when I saw him and even decades later still related he had deep emotional scars from his experiences at the ABC. This man had once been one of the first "elders" in the church, but like many others to come, his life had been ripped apart at the seams. The loss of those you once considered to be family can bring great strain to one's life. It is only possible to understand this if you have experienced it for yourself and no one in the ABC is exempt.  If you question anything too voraciously you will be put away.

The money, not the baptism issue, had always been the true issue in the ongoing feud so there were many meetings about the money issues as well. They generally involved lots of of petty arguing, accusations and people wrangling. They caused quite an emotional split for everyone and did, in fact, divide the church into two camps. This split gave “good cause” for the money to be brought once again into a central tithe with Yvonne managing it. Divide and conquer as they say.  I was a punk high school kid back then, had no real voice and there was little I could have done or said to change all that happened. I admit to a vast amount of gullibility for a lot of years as well. They were confusing times and would be for me for many decades to come. When you have experienced the ripping apart of your own family your nature is to try to keep the peace at all cost. This is what I did to my own shame and detriment but I give myself a measure of grace in the matter because I only did what I knew and had little benefit of outside influences.

In the next post, I elaborate further on the people grumbling about the three way split and tell about the plans to host an "all-church" picnic in an attempt to rebuild the "unity". We also move from the "sewer house" into a larger home nearby so all three meetings can be brought back under one roof again. At least  until things settle down.

NEXT POST

Am I Trouble?

Over the years I have witnessed many things within the Assembly of the Body of Christ  which deeply disturbed me. To this point I have remained mostly silent, and even to some point participative.  Someone once said to me "There are things that are bad, but they are not truly bad until they happen to you. Then they are completely bad."  It is such a true statement I ended up using it with many of my clients. However I only truly understood it after I was ambushed by Bruce Leonard, Andy Atwell and the company of silent men they had with them.

Over the years, after I was ambushed and then ex-communicated, my silence has inwardly disturbed me. I had been trained well that you "don't make waves" to "protect the unity of the body". Many people, over the years, have expressed to me their dismay at the emotional, spiritual and, in the case of children, downright physical abuse that was occurring in the ABC but were afraid to say anything. They felt, just like I then that  they would be "speaking against God's anointed".  I had been trained in this manner since I was fourteen so to even begin to speak out was  a struggle. The few times I actually did I was severely "disciplined".  What we all failed to realize is that we are all God's anointed and the leadership had no special right to this designation.

On February 16, 2008 I prayed about my silence. The very next morning I received the correspondence quoted below from a gentleman who knows nothing about what I, and others, have gone through at the hands of the ABC. I considered it an answer to my prayer and, despite any pain or anxiety it may bring me, I pledged to begin telling what I know of the ABC, and its abuses, so more will not be hurt. If I am successful...praise God. If I am not...then I will have done my part and my hands are clean. Here is the correspondence I received:

When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, "Is it you, you troubler of Israel?" And he answered, "I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father's house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals." (1 Kings 18:17,18; ESV)

The prophet Elijah lived during a very difficult time in the history of Israel. He was appointed by God to confront King Ahab. King Ahab was the most evil king of Israel to date (see 1 Kings 16:30). The intensity of his evil was partly due to his marrying Jezebel; a princess of the city of Sidon. It appears that she encouraged Ahab in the establishment in Israel of the worship of the false god Baal.

God sent Elijah to prophesy to Ahab of the coming three-year drought (see 1 Kings 17:1ff). After Elijah gave Ahab this message, Elijah went into hiding. For those of us from countries with ample water supply, it is difficult to fully appreciate what this means. At that time in history, the land of Israel was very dependent upon rainfall, even more than it is today. Drought inevitably led to famine, which meant national disaster. Lack of rain, therefore, would be understood as a sign of God's displeasure.

After the three-year period, we come to the interchange that includes what I quoted at the start. Ahab's first words to Elijah were, "Is it you, you troubler of Israel?" - an accusation which Elijah contradicted. He would not allow Ahab to transfer the blame for Israel's troubles from the true villain to himself.

But isn't Ahab's accusation typical? True trouble makers will shift the blame for the trouble they cause to the ones who expose their bad behavior. I don't think one has to be a psychologist to understand what is going on here. What it comes down to is that real trouble makers don't want their bad behavior confronted. They want to do what they want to do without having to face the consequences. They will protect themselves by any means, which almost always includes attacking anyone who gets in their way. In this case, Ahab used blame shifting. He did so, because it is often effective. Elijah brought the bad news of God's judgment on the nation. Ahab may not have been the only one who put the blame on Elijah, when the real cause of the disaster was Ahab and his evil ways.

People whom God uses to deal with evil today are often the last people who want to make trouble. In fact, they want to speak up out of a desire to avoid trouble, not make more trouble. They care deeply about people and are sensitive to the consequences of bad behavior. So they speak up. And what happens? They are the ones who are called trouble makers.

This is enough to shut some down. They may even believe these accusations. At one level life seemed more peaceful before they spoke up. They forget what it was that originally spurned them on. They forget the origin of the trouble. They take the blame, and the real trouble makers continue as before.

If you are someone God has called to speak out, then you mustn't be afraid to do what Elijah did. He contradicted Ahab to his face by saying, "I have not troubled Israel, but you have...". If God has called you to speak, then don't back down. Don't take the blame for trouble you have not caused. Keep close to the Lord, and let him guide you as to what you should and should not say and do. Don't let your critics confuse and intimidate you. When the true trouble makers call you, "trouble," it most likely means you are doing a good job.