Monday, December 31, 2018

2019 Predictions for the Church of God

Another Year is upon us. We are now entering the year 2019. In the COG Sphere, 2019 is:

45 Years after the opening of Ambassador Auditorium. 
44 Years after the Great Disappointment of 1975.
33 Years after the death of Herbert W. Armstrong. 
25 Years after the "Changes" of December 1994. 
11 Years after the Failed 2008 Prophecies of Ron Weinland. 
6 Years after the Failed 2013 Prophecies of David Pack. 

It's time for this year's "Predictions by SHT" of what 2019 may bring in the COG Universe. 

Prediction #1: Another Big Failure for Ronald Weinland

Another Pentecost Return of Jesus Christ will fail - but only few will notice. That is, those few who still follow the man, and those of us aware of his ongoing incorrect predictions. This particular attempt at predicting the "Return" will again enter another prediction into the False Prophet Hall of Fame. 

I predict he will reset the timeline again, will attempt to explain himself away, reveal some nugget of "new truth", refuse to repent, refuse to apologize, and continue to dupe the few believers in his version of Armstrongism that are left. 

I also predict that his core group will shrink, but will probably remain intact - just a shattered remnant of what once was. Any attempt of future growth will be permanently stifled by the revelations of his criminal history to any new prospective members. 

Prediction #2: More Shining Light Absurdities

I predict James Malm will double down in his legalistic interpretations of the Law, and, in 2019, will become even more aggressive in his "warning ministry". However, I also predict that his interpretations will become more obviously absurd than 2018. I predict he will attempt to begin a video "telecast" of some sorts, certainly with some sort of grand introduction, followed by a "Home Video" format video sermon of some sort. I predict he will continue to blast his "competition" as incorrect in many ways. 

Prediction #3: Continuing Nonsense

I predict the ministry of Bob Thiel, AKA "Continuing Church of God", will attempt to "expand" more into Africa, where it's core group of "converts" are, and may approach 5,000 African members. I predict only a handful of these may even care or listen to Bob, or find any relevance in his messages. I predict his USA base will shrink slightly. 

I predict he will continue without change in his ministry styles, including well-known props and mannerisms. I predict he will continue to use his "animations" to proclaim his version of a "gospel" and will seek even more alternative methods to "reach" the "lost". I predict that he will have his annual Superbowl Football Bashing Post in January. 

I predict his ministry shall remain small and irrelevant to the main world scene. I predict he will not gain any following or noticing glances from any large world authority or government or broadcast, nor will any attempts be made to "silence" his ministry, because most will continue to not care. There are thousands upon thousands of other "prophets" and "ministers" out there with far more relevance for their attention than Bob. 

Prediction #4: LCG Shrinkage

I predict LCG will shrink slightly in both income and members, as overall morale continues to decline and membership age increases. I predict there will be no merger with any other group such as COGWA in 2019. I predict that internal drama will also increase in 2019. There will be no substantial growth in LCG in 2019, I predict. Other than that, things will probably remain nearly the same as this year, with little power, little enthusiasm, and a general ho-hum attitude. 

Prediction #5: UCG Stays The Same

I predict UCG will stay just about the same in 2019. Because of their acceptance of most mindframes, controversies will probably be minimal, with membership and income about even. No news here. 

Prediction #6: The Scattered Church Continues their Feuds

I predict the Scattered Church will continue their feuds throughout 2019. No COG in the Scattered Church will break through with phenomenal growth or a charismatic leader. They will continue to merchandise the brethren, engage in materialistic disputes, and meet in small rooms or hotel conference rooms.  

Prediction #7: More Scandals for PCG

I predict scandals and horror stories will continue to leak from PCG. 

What do you think 2019 holds for the COG Universe? Do you agree or disagree? Comment below.

submitted by SHT

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Allie Dart Properties Update By Wes White

Allie Dart Properties Update
By Wes White

            As a result of my December 28 post about the dispute over the four real estate properties gifted by Allie Dart to four individuals, I received a call last Sabbath from a man I will refer to as “a close friend of two CEM board members.” He asked me to keep his name confidential, so I will honor his request.   Let’s call him David.  This is not his real name. 
            David told me that there were two errors in my December 28 post.  He pointed out that the title of my post was incorrect in that CEM does not technically have a lawsuit against the estate of Allie Dart.  (More about that in a moment.)  And he said that, while Skip Martin is very clearly named as the executor of Ron’s will, David had made it clear that (while Ron was alive) Skip stated he was not going to perform that service for the Darts.  (More about that in a moment.) 
            Let’s start with the title of the post which mentions CEM suing the estate of Allie Dart.  David is right that this title was incorrect.  Let me explain.  When I sent the post, I did not include a title.  The title was added by the Banned people who wrote the title and genuinely believed it was correct.  They wrote the title in good faith and it was an honest mistake.  When most people hear the words lawyer or attorney, they usually assume a lawsuit.   When the post first came out, I didn’t even notice the title because I was regularly monitoring the Comments section only.  After my letter was posted, I didn’t even read the post itself because I was just hitting the “Comments” button.  I should have paid closer attention.  This was my mistake.  For that reason, I apologize to Banned and its readers and to CEM.  It was never my intention to mislead.  
            In the meantime, Banned has corrected the title and I thank them for this. 
But I must stress that, other than the title, I stand by what I wrote in the article and I can state with a clear conscience that I had spent much time reviewing the article for accuracy before I submitted it.  Again, I acknowledge my error regarding the title. 
            During my conversation with David, he made two points that I believe need addressing.  They are important points!  They are as follows:
            First, David stated emphatically that the CEM board is NOT the cause of all this endless litigation that’s going on over the estate of Ron and Allie Dart. David placed the blame for this mess squarely on Ron’s family.  
Second, David stated emphatically that, if Ron were alive, Ron would NOT be for the existence of RLDEA. 
            Let’s first deal with who is the cause of the current endless litigation. And this is an important point because everyone knows that Ron taught against taking a brother to court.  And I have been told on more than one occasion that the CEM leadership is trying to deflect blame for being the ones who got the ball rolling on all this litigation that is costing all sides tons of money – money that could be better spent on preaching the Gospel and feeding the flock and helping the poor.   This fable about CEM not being the initiators of this litigation is being spread throughout the Armstrong movement.  It is not true.  
So I have created a timeline of events on how all this got started:
            During the October 2017 Feast of Tabernacles at Land Between the Lakes, I met with a CEM board member and with a man who later became a CEM board member. In that meeting, I expressed my disappointment that I had just learned about CEM hiring a litigating attorney. Both guys were unapologetic about this turn of events and made it clear that anyone who sits on the CEM board has a “fiduciary responsibility” (their words) to do what’s best for the corporation known as CEM – even if it means suing people who are in the church!   In other words, corporate loyalty trumps relationships between brethren.  
            At that time, Cathy was executing Allie’s will.  It was about that time that she had given the property deeds to Phillip Hufton and Dianne McDonnell.  It was also during this time that she had given Allie’s gifts (as prescribed in the will) to various friends of Allie’s.  Gifts like cars, dishes, cash gifts, dining room furniture, etc.  
            When CEM found out that Cathy had turned the deeds over to Phillip and Dianne, that’s when they hired an attorney to contact Allie’s estate attorney for the purpose of stopping Cathy from disposing of Allie’s properties.  And what was their basis for insisting that Cathy stop disposing of Allie’s properties?  They made it clear that this was community property and that Ron’s will provided for an inheritance to CEM.  The CEM lawyers were insistent that Ron’s will was going to go into a settlement phase or be probated.  
So, Cathy was informed by Allie's estate attorney that CEM had acquired legal representation in late September of 2017.  However, as a sidebar, CEM had already begun making demands before the hiring of their attorney was announced.  On August 18, 2017, just fivedays after Allie's funeral, Cathy received an email from the CEM board president (Willie Oxendine) requesting a timeline of when all of Allie's properties would be transferred over to CEM.  I have seen this letter and was appalled at the board’s callous insensitivity.  Again, we had only buried Allie five days prior.  
            Over the next few months, there was debate between Allie's estate lawyer and the CEM lawyers about whether or not Ron’s will should be probated.  By this time, CEM had hired a second legal team. Note that the surviving Dart family members are nowhere in this picture!  Also, Cathy's only legal representation at that point was Allie's estate attorney -- not a litigating attorney -- but a mere estate attorney.
            By the time January 2018 came around, it was clear that if anything was going to move forward, Ron’s will would indeed need to be probated.  Then the question was, “Who would be the executor?” The will that Ron signed clearly said that Skip Martin was to be executor.  I remember that, at that time, we were wondering why Skip had not taken the will down to the courthouse to get it into probate.  Personally, I had no idea Skip was refusing to execute the will at that time.
            When it became clear that Skip was not going to probate the will and that CEM was trying to do a settlement agreement on their own terms, Cathy suggested that Ron’s niece (Jamie) volunteer to be executor.  Jamie volunteered and the probate court judge then appointed her as administrator of Ron’s will.  If Jamie had not become administrator of Ron’s will, we would still be at a stalemate with nothing moving forward.   
            Should Ron’s will have been executed?  We now know the answer is yes.  This is the lawful thing to do.  CEM is entitled to an inheritance, whether Allie condoned it or not.  It is the law.
            The problem in all this comes when CEM tells its supporters that it was Ron’s relatives who started all this legal stuff.  Ron’s relatives were not sitting around thinking of ways to get their hands on estate money.  They were perfectly content with Allie’s will carrying the day and only got involved in Ron’s will AFTER CEM made it clear that Ron’s will was going to be put into probate one way or another.  Yet, I have also been told by another person who is a friend of CEM board members that “one of Ron’s nieces” is the reason a final settlement can’t be reached.  This is not true.  All of Ron’s relatives ever wanted was to get this thing behind them as quickly as possible.  This still want this.  Meantime, it is all being held up because CEM is attempting to micro-manage the settlement to their favor and are refusing to negotiate fairly. 
            Now let’s deal with David’s claim that, if Ron were alive, he would be against the existence of RLDEA.  
            I asked him directly, “What makes you so sure that Ron would be against the existence of RLDEA.  How can you be so adamant?”  He replied that he was a friend of Ron’s for twenty years and had spent much time talking to Ron.  He said that Ron had told him he wanted everything that he and Allie owned to go to CEM after their deaths.  (For the record, shortly after Ron's accident in 2010, Ron and Allie told me they were no longer on speaking terms with David due to bad behavior on his part.)
            Here’s where the logic of David falls flat.  David is making a judgment based on a snapshot in time of what Ron was thinking at a particular moment.  David does not take into consideration that Ron just might have changed his thinking if he were to know the events that would take place after he died.  In any attempt to divine Ron’s thinking, we have to ask questions like this:  “Would Ron have still wanted all his assets to go to CEM if he knew that his wife was going to be mistreated by the CEM board after his death?”
            Now let’s be clear.  I cannot say with 100 percent certainty that the CEM board mistreated Allie after Ron’s death.  I can only tell you that Allie constantly complained to me (and many others) about the disrespect that she suffered at the hands of the board.  I have read emails between her and the board where she recounted things that were said in board meetings that were highly disrespectful. I have read emails from board members to Allie where they made promises to her that they broke shortly after her death. But again, I wasn’t there.  And neither was David.  So I think most observers should be careful when making a judgment as to whether or not Allie was mistreated by the CEM board.   
            With that in mind, in the same way that I cannot say that Ron would INDEED approve of RLDEA’s existence, David cannot say that Ron would NOT approve of RLDEA’s existence.  We can’t always predict someone’s future behavior because that behavior could be affected by events that happen after their deaths.  On one hand, I cannot say, “I knew how much Ron loved Allie and, therefore, I predict that Ron would have done this.”   And neither can David say, I knew how much Ron loved CEM and, therefore, I predict that Ron would have done that.”
            This line of predictive reasoning doesn’t always work.   However, one thing I can state with absolute surety is that Allie Dart definitely wanted RLDEA created before she died.  As Ron’s wife, she was convinced that this would have had Ron’s blessing.  And that’s all I needed to hear.  The widow of Ron Dart requested I set this up for her, so I did.  For all who are angry at me for helping her out, come on!  She was a widow who had very few people she could rely on.  Today, just about all of those who abandoned Ron and Allie after Ron’s accident are now against RLDEA.  
            Further, when David attempts to divine what Ron would or would not approve of today, isn’t he making the same mistake made by the worshippers of HWA?!?   Don’t so many of these groups – in their attempts to claim the mantle of HWA – emphatically state, “If Mr. Armstrong were alive today, he would back what we’re doing and he would be against what all those other groups are doing.”  This type of projection is an exercise in futility and it is wrought with pitfalls.  
And here’s is the most important point anyway:  Our Christian walk should never be, “This is what Mr. XXXXX would do if he were alive.” Instead, our metric should always be to concern ourselves primarily with what the Bible teaches.  Isn’t what is Scriptural the most importing thing?   
Yes, David and I both absolutely appreciate Ron’s efforts and Ron’s body of work.  But Ron was fallible.  As much as we loved the man, let’s not deify him.  Instead, let’s acknowledge the good work Ron has created and let’s promote it.  But let’s always look first to Jesus when trying to determine what should and shouldn’t be done.  Let’s not try to be like Saul when he attempted to divine the will of dead Samuel.  Saul should have been looking to God for guidance and not to a dead servant of God.
Again, I appreciate the conversation that we are having on Banned regarding this situation.  I welcome input and even disagreement from all people.  I am not perfect.  As I pointed out in the beginning of this post, I make mistakes.  
And, civil debate is healthy for us all – in spite of our beliefs on theology or church administration.
For those of us on this forum who claim to be followers of Jesus, we must always remember that Christianity is relational – not corporate.  How we treat each other personally is more important than any corporation.  With that in mind, I would like to close by recounting that David apologized to me for starting off our conversation with hostility in his voice.  After we reasoned together, he told me how his Baptist friends are helping him to learn how to show more love and patience to others. He also apologized to me for abandoning our friendship that we once had.  He acknowledged that his anger at me two years ago had nothing to do with anything I had done to him personally.  That was a big admission.  It is my hope that he will eventually understand that his misplaced anger at me was all over corporate issues.  He has much loyalty toward various COG leaders and lets that get in the way of his personal friendships.  He also asked if we could go back to being friends.  I praise God for David’s kind words and hope that some Christian good can come out of this mess. 

Is it possible to commit the Unpardonable Sin if you criticize the "Work"?

How You Could Commit the Unpardonable Sin!
by Herbert W. Armstrong March 1960 Good News Article
"But -- and here's where you need to TREMBLE IN FEAR! -- if and when you criticize or accuse or condemn THE WORK, THEN YOU ARE SPEAKING AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT -- and if and when you do that, YOU SHALL NOT BE FORGIVEN! You shall not be forgiven now, or in the world to come -- the WORLD TOMORROW -- during the millennium or during the Great White Throne JUDGMENT! This sort of thing always starts out with personal criticism and fault-finding against the one God has chosen and is using in the office of apostle in HIS WORK. But oh, brethren, how we have been grieved to see a few here and there along the way, thru the years, start out by finding fault against the human person of God's servant, and then in that disgruntled and embittered spirit proceed progressively into condemning THE WORK OF GOD, and denying that it IS the work of God. This work has grown too great and powerful to be the work of a human man, apart from either God or the devil. If this is not the very WORK OF GOD, then it must be that of SATAN. And to accuse it -- to condemn it -- I ask you, brethren, IS IT NOT MORE THAN POSSIBLE THAT THIS IS SPEAKING AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT, and therefore is the UNPARDONABLE SIN?"
The "work" has to be doing a godly work before it can even dare to claim to be above reproach.  Sadly our track record of the church acting in a godly manner has been horribly damaged by the likes of so many current church leaders.  That blame ultimately lies at the feet of Herbert Armstrong for allowing arrogance, narcissism, and visions of grandeur to infect the church.  The church that claims to be "true" has let its self be overrun by vile men who have been anything but godly and never more so than in the last 20 years.

Sure there were a lot or legalistic tyrants in the church before the great implosion, but the crop of tyrants currently running COG is appallingly evil.

What right does HWA have above saying that if you criticize the church that YOU SHALL NOT BE FORGIVEN!  That is a blatant lie! No man on earth has the power to even claim such a thing.

Even more importantly, speaking out against the current batch of lairs and abusers is NOT speaking against the Holy Spirit.  Rather, it is the liars and abusers of the brethren currently running splinter groups and "ministries" that are the ones "grieving" the Holy Spirit.  That is why I can, with confidence, call out the self-appointed false prophets and liars of the current COG leaders like Malm, Theil, Pack, Weinland, Flurry, Weston and others.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Answering (Or Trying To) TLA's Questions and Opening the Table for Public Comments

TLA posed some questions concerning my last post I want to answer. With this disclaimer: 

I can only answer these questions in my personal perspective. Others will have different opinions. Don't take my answers as dogma. They are only the way I look at things. I'm not speaking on any pastoral authority, or claiming my answers are inspired. They are just how I see things right now. I'd like to publish this generally for open comments from our readers. Here are the questions posed by TLA. 

1) What about the other non-Christian religions? The followers can all follow the ways of peace and love if they choose, or follow them to hate - much like Christians have done. Does God only care about Christians?

There are many non-Christian religions - Hindu, Buddhism, Paganism, among scores of others. Many have believed in their dogmas and core doctrines as firmly as we believed in another Non-Christian religion - Armstrongism. (Yes, I know I just raised a ton of shackles with that statement, and I have my tomato shield up, but I have come to the conclusion that since Armstrongism ignores essential elements of Christianity, it is decidedly non-Christian. Even though it claims it is.  Scripture says God so loved the world that He gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Therefore, I believe that God cares about everyone. He is willing that none should perish but have everlasting life. I also believe that God can work in ways outside of the box that mankind has encased God in. We know nothing compared to the vast knowledge outside of our universe and our realms. The best answer is very simple in my opinion, and ties in with my last post: God works with each and every individual personally, and God will lead them to all truth in the best way for that person. You can't constrain the way God does things in a general blueprint, because, honestly, many people are beyond the blueprint. 

2) The origins of man in the Bible do not agree with DNA science - does this make Genesis into a telling of myths? If yes, does it matter?

Genesis, in my opinion, is allegory. In other words, written to primitive man in primitive dialogue. There are many fundamentalists who refuse to understand that God did not say how people came into being with college level text-books, but with a "See Jane run, run, Jane, run" method of speaking. This book was written far, far and away before anyone knew anything we know now. Since we have attained much increase in knowledge, many refuse to acknowledge our educated learning and throw it away to read a "Little Golden Book" and shut their minds to anything else. Genesis is simple allegory for what were, at the time, simple minds. 

3) The NT is built on the OT. With the exception of NT prophecy, the NT builds on the positive ways of life and love written about in the OT.

The NT is built on Jesus Christ, not the OT. The OT pointed to Jesus Christ. The NT is about Jesus Christ. You cannot build an entire testament on a testament that has been cancelled. You can't add on to a contract if the first contract has been cancelled. That does not cancel the eternal Royal Law of Love that has always existed - but was not generally revealed - to the OT peoples steeped in wickedness and abominable evil. 

4) NT writes that Christ's return will be unexpected - no one knows the day or hour. How then can we have a very precise three and a half year tribulation (Daniel) and a terrifying day of the Lord in Revelation with major warfare going on? Everyone with a Bible will know what is happening and there are probably over 100 million Bibles in existence.

Everyone with a Bible thought they knew what was happening with the Bubonic Plague, the Krakatoa Volcanic Explosion, the two World Wars, and every other historic extreme catastrophe that has happened since Jesus Christ came to reconcile man to the Father 2,000 years ago. Everyone who has ever thought they had the Return of Christ figured out has ended up on a massively long False Prophet list detailed in WIkipedia. When the next World War happens - the same thing will happen again. Remember Jesus said that when he returns, one will be in the field, one will be here, or there, and the other will be taken - and to stand watch, because He will come at a time when you know not. This does not seem to me to be an occurrence that can possibly happen in a World War - who would be in a field with nukes raining down everywhere? Who would be carrying on normal activities during the worst Armageddon in world history? 

""Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left."
"Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left."
""So you, too, must keep watch! For you don't know what day your Lord is coming."

"Your Lord" is very personal. 

"Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into."

"You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected." (NLV)
For the one who was taken, Jesus had come. 
For the one who was not taken, Jesus had NOT come. 

Ponder on this. 

5) If you are an atheist, have you some convincing examples on how life started and how the building blocks of life came about by random chance, when scientists don't yet have any way of creating them on purpose?


6) There are miracles in this world - how do you explain these without Watchers who are invisible to us, and have power to intervene?

You cannot. They can be attributed as mental illness, delusions, coincidences, and so on and so forth - but none of these are true to those (see, plural) who have experienced such interventions. I, personally, would not be here today if not due to dramatic and wholly supernatural intervention. These events had consolidated and solidified my faith because there was absolutely no other conceivable explanation. As I have always said - the evidence is PERSONAL, and cannot be proven unless you, yourself, have experienced it. This is why I believe miracles can, and do happen, regardless of what church or what situation you are in. There are higher realms that we know not, that our physical world has no evidence for, but our spiritual mind through Christ can comprehend. Those who hear these stories and have not experienced them may well regard them as foolish, illogical, and unreasoned. Those who experienced these things, however, know they are not delusions, not illogical, and not unreasoned. They are as real and as true as the air we breathe and the ground we walk on, and the gravity that holds us down. It is personal. Personal. and again, Personal. 

Looking forward to the comments. Again. This is not inspired or dogmatic, and I'm not speaking in any way as if I have a full handle on these questions. These are simply my personal thoughts as I see them right now - subject to change. I'm not about to pull a Thiel or a Malm or a Weston on these answers, nor would I want to. I'm not standing at a podium here as I do when debunking Armstrong, I'm just sitting on the couch talking. Take my answers as such.

Gerald Weston talks down to LCG members again

Living Church of God members just cannot seem to ever do anything right. Now they are too stupid to use the internet.  They seem to be falling for internet scams that take money out of LCG's pocket.

I want to remind everyone to be extremely careful using social media and the Internet. Scams are proliferating. Long-time users recognize many of them, but they may not appear so obvious to less savvy and newer users. Even if something reportedly comes from someone you know, be careful. Hackers get into people’s e-mail lists and send out fraudulent requests for money (“I was robbed and can’t get back home—please send money”) and invitations to invest. Then there is the one where you have been chosen to help a rich widow transfer millions of dollars from another country. These are the easy ones to spot, but some schemes are becoming more sophisticated and members need to be wary. When in doubt, ask someone who knows more than you.Gerald Weston

LCG: You have trials so you can learn important lessons

Why is it that the so many of the ministry in the Church of God have to keep members beaten down?  COG members never are quite good enough for their god to be pleased with them. They always seem to be doing something wrong, so much so that they are blamed for the failure for Christ's return because they are not ready. COG members have come to expect that the more they are supposed to believe in the angry god of the church, the more they will be tested.

The Importance of Patience

The Apostle Paul urged Christians to develop the mind of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5). The Scriptures describe the patience of Jesus (Revelation 1:9), and tell us that God is patient (Romans 15:5), that patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and that true saints of God develop and exhibit this important quality (Revelation 13:10). We are encouraged to be patient and persevere during trials (Romans 12:12; James 1:4) and to trust in God (Psalm 37:7) as we seek to build character and learn important lessons (Psalm 25:5). We are also admonished to be patient and gentle in our dealings with others, so we can truly reflect the mind and character of Jesus Christ and our Father. Paul wrote, “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11). He also wrote, “Now we exhort you… be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:14–15). The Apostle Peter even stated, “when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God” (1 Peter 2:20). True Christians should not be impatient, impulsive, vindictive, or seek to get even. If we have the mind of Jesus Christ, we will strive to develop this godly quality of patience.
Have a profitable Sabbath,
Douglas S. Winnail

There is a reason that this verse is in the Bible, a verse rarely expounded upon by most of the COG's.

Matthew 11:28-30 The Message (MSG)

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” 
This is why so many have left the Living Church of God and other COG's.  People are burned out. They are tired and worn out.  Grace constantly gets trampled upon and made into a burden to be worked at constantly.

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Gift...

The following is the personal opinion of the author. 

One of the most misunderstood aspects of the doctrines of Armstrongism has to do with the personal relationship that Jesus Christ clearly brought into being for Christians with the Father through His life, death, and Resurrection, which brought reconciliation of man to the Father. 

With Armstrongism, the corporate hierarchy were layers of separation between a person and God. The all-important concept of the Church being "the Government of God on Earth" literally poured cement into the spiritual conduit between a believer and God Himself. All of this, of course, modeled after a form of Government prior to the reconciling work of Jesus Christ - when Christ had not yet come, the Law had not been fulfilled, and access to God was barred because of the law of sin and death, which chained and enslaved. A Personal Relationship with God? Only if you went through the human layers of Government of the Church - and only if you were thoroughly obedient, thoroughly submissive, and thoroughly in agreement with the human administration that God had to go through to "get to you". The Armstrong Ministry intentionally thrust themselves directly between the personal access that one has between a Christian and God - direct, personal, spiritual communication with God from the spiritual dimension - to go through flawed, human, untrained, idiotic, unqualified "ministers" filled with the lust of power and the thrill of unchecked power and authority. 

This was all because of the way that Herbert Armstrong understood the Bible. Using the "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little" way of Biblical interpretation - a cherry-picked jigsaw of non-contextual sublimation of text with a random, non-scholarly approach bent toward personal bias and prefabricated opinion - Herbert was able to blend in the Old Testament with parts of the New Testament, pulling out key points and emphasizing other points to create an entirely different religion completely at odds with any sort of Christian thinking. What was created was an impersonal, authoritative, ridiculously physical interpretation of scripture, whose foundation was not built on what - or, rather, Who - the Old Testament pointed to - but on the foundation of the Old Testament itself. Instead of the foundation being Jesus Christ and the Gospel, the foundation was a base of crumbled, broken, obsolete, aged and cracked rubble, decayed and rendered obsolete. The foundation was based on an attempt to revive what pointed to Christ instead of Christ Himself who enabled reconciliation with the Father through the Gift of the Holy Spirit. And, in all of this, the Personal Relationship with God Christ enabled through His death and Resurrection was fully quenched for thousands who instead put their trust and their hope in the fouled up, rotten, putrid thinking of human ministers. 

I don't need to tell you where that got thousands of people who were caught up in Armstrong's deceptions. The evidence is freely available everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. 

What is available, now, and today, is a Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ - regardless of what Church you go to. Jesus Christ is far more powerful than any Armstrong Church of God. I do not care if it is Flurry's church, Pack's Church, Weston's Church, or any other splinter group you can name. I do not care what Thiel says, and I do not care what Malm says. I don't care what lies are spewed in the name of Christ - lies about when Christ will return, or how. I don't care what their voices or dreams in their heads cry to them to proclaim that end up - every time - being deceptive, outright lies. I don't care what titles they dream up in their heads. Whether or not they call themselves "Presiding Evangelists" or "Pastor Generals" or any other haughty esteemed title they can think of. These men cannot separate one from the Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ that was bought, paid for, and gifted to us through Jesus Christ. Their churches cannot separate one from the Personal Relationship with Christ. And most of all, their churches cannot separate one from the Love of God between a Human Being who believes in God and the Father. 

This is why the Churches of God are powerless, dismal, shrinking and failing. Jesus Christ is reigning on His throne for those who believe and who trust in Him. Through the Spirit of God, a new believer can, by His Power, repent and turn to God in faith and hope through the Light of Life in the newness of Grace and love. Through the Spirit of God, lies are exposed, the light shines, and people who were blind can see. The deaf can here, and the dead can be given new life. No Armstrong Church or Minister can come between a believer and God when a Believer puts their faith and trust in God. This is where freedom takes hold and shackles fall. 

I rejoice when I hear the stories of answered prayer - even in the Armstrong Churches of God. Throughout my decades in the Church I was well aware of stories within the Churches of God of how God answered prayer in simple, yet powerful ways within members of the Church. After everything fell apart within the Church, for a while, I was puzzled as to how it was that God seemingly worked miracles within the Church to "promote the Church". Then it hit me that these miracles were not "promoting the Church". God was working directly with a person, one on one, showing them He's still there - with them - God With US - Personally - regardless of the abuse, dictatorship, and harm that the Armstrong Churches of God imposed on the victims. God works with each person individually, and personally. He did then, He does now, He will tomorrow. He always has since the Resurrection of our Lord to those who believe and trust in Him. 

Our God is a Personal God. He is a God that cares about every one of us uniquely, and individually. He is a God of love, light, and peace - with us, guiding us, leading us, and directing us. God Himself has said that He who began a Good work in us will be faithful to complete it. And that promise is for all that put their trust and hope in Him - regardless if they are Protestant, Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Pentecostal, Baptist, Seventh-Day, Mormon, Armstrongite, Amish, Mennonite, or whatever physical group you can name. God transcends the physical and deals with a person personally, and spiritually, through the Power of the Personal Holy Spirit - God With Us, God in Us, and God Through Us. 

This is what Jesus Christ has done for us. This is what Jesus Christ has made possible. This is the Gift that the Father has sent to us. And no human group made by man has any power or authority to sever or disconnect that link to the Throne of God that we, through Christ, may boldly approach. 

This is the Personal Relationship with God all have access to. It's not Religion. It's a Relationship. And that, in a very broad brush, is the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because it is true - that He who began a Good work in us, in ALL of us - will be faithful to complete it in Him.

Submitted by SHT

Update on Christian Educational Ministries legal action against RLDEA and the Estate of Allie Dart

To Banned…  

The following is an email I sent to a couple of friends of mine who inquired as to the status of Christian Educational Ministries’ current legal actions against RLDEA and the estate of the late Allie Dart.  This couple found my update so interesting that they suggested I share this information on Banned.  So please feel free to re-post it if you think your readership would find it interesting.  You might find it too detailed and boring.
Also, Gary Gibbons, Cathy Gibbons, and I are going to spend the next month or so going thru Allie Dart’s old correspondence.  For historical purposes, we would like to share with Banned a few emails and other correspondence between Allie and others to provide a more complete picture as to how this unfortunate situation has gotten to where it is today.  The history behind all of this is fascinating. 

--Wes White

Dear Mr. and Mrs.  ______,
            Thanks for asking about the current state of Christian Educational Ministries’ current legal actions against RLDEA and the estate of the late Allie Dart. 
            Again, I’m not directly involved in executing Allie’s will.  I have no direct interest in Allie’s estate.  However, the executor (Cathy Gibbons) keeps me updated on matters that may ultimately affect RLDEA of which I am president.
            It is a somewhat complicated situation, so please bear with me as I try to explain what I think is one of the major impediments to a settlement.  I will try not to get so granular that I end up boring you with too many details.   And forgive me if I tell you things that I’ve told you before.   You and I have been talking about this for over a year now?  Didn’t Allie die August 2017?
            Anyway, after Ron died, Allie was told by her attorney that she did not have to probate his will.  Instead, an Affidavit of Heirship was presented to the court stating that Allie was the sole heir to all their community property.  Allie was led to believe that, as Ron’s wife, she inherited everything of Ron’s and that she just needed to make sure her will was updated.  This legal advice later proved to be incorrect.  
            So Allie re-wrote her will – making sure she provided for Ron’s relatives and her own relatives.  She also basically disinherited CEM and left a large portion of her estate to the Ronald L. Dart Evangelistic Association which she set up before she died and instructed it to carry on and promote Ron’s materials after her death. 
            As you know, the Darts were well off and their assets did NOT come from the tithes and offerings of the church brethren.  Ron’s salary at CEM was anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 per year.  The Dart money came from Allie’s real estate business and their rental properties.  For many years, she was one of the top real estate sales agents in the Tyler area. 
            One of the many generous features of Allie’s will was that she gifted houses to the following four people:  
n  Philip Hufton (son of Ian Hufton and the late Thalia Hufton)
n  Dianne and Gary McDonnell (long-time church members)
n  Jamie Bozarth (Ron’s niece)
n  Cathy Gibbons (who was left a house as compensation for being the executor of a complicated will that may  take years to execute).
            Very shortly after Allie died, Cathy turned over the deeds of their respective houses to Philip Hufton and Dianne McDonnell.  Philip and Dianne now own these houses free and clear.   Well, sort of. 
            And let’s be clear on this point:  If those houses would not have been willed to Philip and Dianne, they would have gone to RLDEA.  As president of RLDEA, I have absolutely no problem that RLDEA did not get these houses.  First, because it’s what Allie wanted and it was her money to disburse as she pleased.  And second, because the other monies RLDEA has received from Allie’s estate is more than sufficient to pay for our ministry.  It is for this reason that we do not and will not accept contributions from the public. 
            After Allie died, the CEM board got their lawyers to set things in motion for Ron’s will to get executed because, even though CEM is not entitled to anything from Allie’s will, CEM is indeed entitled to an inheritance from Ron’s will.  And let’s be honest:  This is only right!    
But Allie had no idea this was the case.  Allie had been told by her estate attorney that it was unnecessary to probate Ron's will.  Allie operated in good faith based on what her lawyer advised her.  She genuinely believed that Ron’s will should never have been executed.  (Needless to say, that lawyer is no longer being used to assist in the execution of Allie’s estate.) 
            You also asked me who is on the CEM board.  It is my understanding that the following men currently comprise the CEM board of directors.  The list below may not be current:           
n  Larry Watkins of Texas (He is a leading minister in Church of God International)
n  John Beasley of Arkansas 
n  Rod Martin (C. Roderick Martin) of Arkansas
n  Richard Crow of Texas
n  Jon Garnant of California   (He is a leading minister in United Church of God.  I have heard he will probably eventually be on UCM’s board of directors.)   
n  John Currier of Alabama
n  Willie Oxendine of Florida (president of CEM)
And here is the part that makes me feel really bad:  CEM now says that Philip and Dianne must sell the houses which they now own and give 50% of the sale to CEM!   When Cathy informed me of CEM’s demand for half of Philip’s and Dianne’s houses, she and I sat there stunned and horrified.  
So here is what Cathy did.  She had the new lawyer for Allie’s estate propose the following to CEM:  That the four properties gifted to Allie's dearest friends be forgiven by CEM.  That request was promptly refused.  Cathy then made a second negotiation to CEM stating that she (Cathy) would surrender any and all claims to the house she was gifted if CEM would drop its demand that Philip, Dianne, and Jamie give CEM 50% of their houses.  Cathy was willing to completely give up her gift so that Philip, Dianne, and Jamie would not get screwed out of half of their inheritance gift.  (Please see Cathy’s letter below.)
And get this.  CEM has rejected this offer!  And I find this appalling.  Based on my limited understanding of this legal situation, if Philip and Dianne refuse to sell their houses and surrender to CEM 50% of the sale, then CEM will have to take them to court.  And has every intention of doing so.  And we all know what Ron taught against taking a brother to court in his series on the Epistles of Paul. 
There are a lot of people who are affiliated with CEM (and friends of CEM) who regularly slander Cathy.  I have heard the following with my own ears:
n  “I hope Cathy is happy now that she has everything of Allie’s.”  Cathy now has everything?!?  This is false because Cathy has received only a few personal items given to her by Allie.  To date, Cathy has not even received an executor's fee for all her on-going, tireless work.  These people are upset that a big portion of Allie’s will went to RLDEA and their thinking is now so twisted that they believe Cathy somehow “owns” the money that RLDEA has gotten from Allie’s estate!  This is untrue.  I am the president of RLDEA and I am committed to spending that money to promote Ron’s materials.  Further, as a non-profit organization, RLDEA must spend its money for legitimate purposes or I will end up in jail.  That’s not going to happen. 
n  “Cathy is a snake in the grass.”  
n  One person told me the following several months ago:  “So-and-so happened to be driving by Allie’s house a couple of times and it looks like people are living in it.  So we are wondering if Cathy has moved into Allie’s house.”  
My first reaction to that was to think, “Allie’s house is on a dead end street!  How can someone ‘happen to drive by Allie’s house’?”  You talk about petty.  
And let’s be clear:  Cathy never moved into Allie’s house.  Cathy already has her own beautiful house, filled with her stuff and her cats, and she has no need to live in Allie’s house.  The truth of the matter is that Cathy (as executor) has spent many, many hours in Allie’s house cleaning up the place, doing repairs, and getting the house and its contents ready for sale.  So, if you “happened to drive by Allie’s house,” you might have seen Cathy’s car parked there on numerous occasions.  You might also have been struck (“if you happened to drive by Allie's house”) by how pristine the Dart's home looks.  This would be because both Cathy and Gary have been respectful stewards of Ron and Allie's home and their estate.  Certainly, the CEM contingents have had no part in this labor – it is fully on the backs of Cathy and Gary.  Finally, I have been to Allie’s house many times since her death.  And I can assure you that no one has lived in that house since Allie died.  

So here we have Cathy who is willing to give up her personal inherited gift so that Philip, Dianne, and Jamie can receive a whole house (as Allie desired) instead of a half a house (as CEM desires).  On the other hand, we have the CEM board which is demanding half of Philip’s house and half of Dianne’s house, as well as half of Jamie's (Ron’s niece) house and half of Cathy's house.  
Anyway, this half-a-house problem is just one part of this huge drama.  I have said from the beginning that, if CEM were to just sit down with Cathy and with Ron’s niece, Jamie (who is now the administrator of Ron’s will), they could probably resolve all this stuff.  But again, this would require skills in conflict resolution – something that is unknown in so many parts of the fragmenting Armstrong Empire.  Too many times, it seems as though the more years a person has spent in Armstrongism – the less ability he has to make nice with others and the less able he is to know how to work things out with others in Christian love.  I believe this is the very reason why CEM keeps all the lawyers so busy.  The meters for all these attorneys keep running and running.  The lawyers will end up being the biggest winners in this whole thing.   And it’s all so unnecessary.  In addition, I don't think that this is what the supporters of Ron Dart and CEM would condone as a good use of their donation and tithe money. 
The bottom line is that I have no doubt whatsoever that Ron and Allie would be aghast at what the CEM board is doing in regards to their will and final wishes.  
Thanks for your inquiry.

            Your brother, 


From:  Cathy Gibbons
To:  The CEM Board of Directors
Re:  Release of Four Properties
Date:  November 20, 2018

Dear CEM Board of Directors:  Willie Oxendine, John Beasley, C. Roderick Martin, Jon Garnant, John Currier, Larry Watkins and Richard Crow

For the record and on behalf of the Allie and Ron Dart estates:

1)  October 18, 2018 - additional note attached to the FSA from attorney Craig Daugherty sent to CEM through their attorney Steve Spitzer: 

3.3 - It is still our position that the interest of the Ron Dart Estate in the four properties devised by Allie should be gifted to the devisees. Here is a statement by my client in that regard:

Jamie Bozarth, Rodney Kubena and Cathy Gibbons, in consultation with the rest of the Dart/Driver family members, all believe in doing the right thing by deeding the four properties that Allie willed to them at 100%.  We do not wish to create a monetary hardship, particularly on the McDonnell's and Philip Hufton, by making them pay half the value of their house to Ron's estate.  They would probably have to sell the houses to pay this fee.  These folks are members of the Church of God and CEM is the only contingent beneficiary calling for this money.  When these deeds were signed over to the beneficiaries, Jim Gillen, Allie's estate attorney believed that all of Ron's property at his death belonged to Allie to do with as she wished.  Ron and Allie would never have intended -- nor approved -- the gifting of only half a property.  It is what it is now, so we must move forward and do the right, Christian thing

2)  On November 14, 2018 attorney for CEM revised the FSA to state that all the properties, including the four that Allie willed are to be sold and 1/2 the value to be paid to Ron's estate.

Again, on behalf of Ron's estate, Administrator Jamie Bozarth (together with the Dart/Driver family) would like to ask, plead to CEM, as a contingent beneficiary, to allow Ron's estate to gift its 1/2 of these four properties to the recipients.  We all believe that Ron and Allie would not have intended to gift 1/2 of a house to their family and friends. 

However, if CEM feels that they must have this money, I would like to make a personal offer.  We, Gary and Cathy Gibbons will gladly give up our 1/2 of the sale of the El Cerrito property to CEM that Allie willed to us if CEM will allow Jamie Bozarth, the McDonnell's and Philip Hufton  to keep their properties without having to sell and pay 1/2 the value to Ron's estate.

I (Cathy Gibbons) and the surviving Dart/Driver families are requesting that CEM allow these three parties to fully have what has been willed to them.  What the law says and what is morally right are often two different things.  I believe that the selling of these properties will create a hardship specifically on the McDonnell's and Philip Hufton who are members of the Church of God faith. 

In the end, CEM is positioned to receive a considerable amount of money from Ron's estate even without the three gifted properties. 

Please consider this request as an act of Christian love as we all move forward in the finalization of the Dart Family Settlement Agreement.


Cathy C. Gibbons
Followup from Cathy - December 4, 2018:
Dear Mr. Spitzer,
I received the CEM/FSA correspondence note from you today forwarded to me from my attorney Craig Daugherty.  CEM is still demanding that all (4) properties (gifted by Allie) pay 1/2 their sold value to Ron's estate.  

My offer letter has not been addressed.  Did they receive the letter I sent to them through you on Nov. 28th?  I would appreciate the favor of a response from the CEM board please. 


Cathy Gibbons

Response from CEM attorney Steve Spitzer – December 5, 2018:
“The CEM board declined the offer.  I apologize if that was not clear from our prior communications.”
 Best regards,
 Steve Spitzer
 Steve M. Spitzer
Ramey & Flock, PC               
100 East Ferguson, Suite 404
Tyler, Texas 75702