Saturday, August 10, 2019

Gerald Weston: I may have been 2% wrong in my life, but we LCG ministers are the HARDEST working group of men in the church today and we NEVER bully members!

Brother Gerald Weston has a new editorial up in the July/August Living Church of God News. Once more it looks like we have tweaked his funny bone with all the comments and articles here about Living Church of God ministers being bullies and/or treating members in very unchristian ways.

In this age of the Internet and instant social media, COG groups are being held accountable in ways they never have been before.  This is why so many of them lash out at Facebook, Instagram, blogs and various online groups with frequency.  They don't want their shrinking memberships to find out how corrupt some of them are and how they've made a profession out of lying with endless false prophecies and bullet points on why God is speaking through them with dreams and revelations. Never has the Church of God had a more perfect set of ministers that it does today in 2019, regardless of which splinter group you look at.
Ministers are used to abuse from some members. That may shock you, but it is true, and often it comes from the very people you spend the most time and energy trying to help. I remember the letter I received from one man whom I had made every effort to help that began something like this: “I never liked you. You never helped me or my family. You only did anything for us because you felt obligated.” And believe me, the letter went downhill from there! 
Yes, some members do abuse ministers and take advantage of them, that is something we all have seen.  However, for the broad majority who criticize ministers, it is because they were abused spiritually and mentally, and in some cases, physically.   Mental and spiritual abuse is just as damaging to the psyche as sexual and physical abuse.  Of course, every COG out there claims they preach "pure" Christianity in the most loving manner imaginable.

Most people in all the COG groups he was over, regardless of which group they were aligned with now, know the truth behind that boast!
On another occasion, I received a letter from a former associate pastor decades after we had worked together. He had various complaints against me, including instances that I couldn’t remember. Now, I could understand why he might be upset about some situations, even though I had offered him correction for legitimate reasons, but for the most part it was stuff he should have gotten over long ago. What was interesting was that he put no return address on the letter; he did not want a reply. He simply wanted to “get it off his chest,” perhaps as a form of therapy.
Frankly, I have made many mistakes over the years that I would like to forget, and I am thankful our Creator is full of mercy and quick to forgive. But in general, I have a clear conscience regarding the above-mentioned circumstances, knowing the facts as they were.
I wonder how the people on Facebook, now adults, would react to this, considering how spiritually abusive he was to them at church summer camps.  There is little regard for him by most who have come in contact with him over the decades at church camps.  This does not include members of congregations he pastored!  We could fill this blog up for the next year with horror stories from those people.
In January 2014, the clergy in the United Church of Canada, a merger of Protestant denominations that dates to 1925, formed a union. The Toronto Star, the second-largest circulation newspaper in Canada as of 2017, reported the following:
The goal of the newly created professional association, called Unifaith, is to give faith workers, their family members, student ministers and retirees, a common voice. In addition to fighting for job security for clergy and other paid employees, the new union plans to help combat the bullying, and in some cases physical assaults, of clergy by members of congregations or outsiders…. In addition, many United Church clergy have complained about being overworked, another issue the future union plans to address (“United Church of Canada clergy form their own union,” January 21, 2014).
This is rather shocking considering how hard the ministry works in the Living Church of God. Also, I do not consider that the criticism we sometimes encounter rises to the level of bullying or physical assaults. The point is that we all see matters from our own perspective, and life and work in the ministry is not always exactly what some members may imagine it is. Children often think a parent cannot understand them, but children have never experienced parenthood, whereas every parent has been a child. In the same way—though I am by no means comparing members with children—all of us in the ministry have been lay members. We also have those in authority over us, and all of us, members and ministers alike, must answer to the Supreme Authority in our lives.
Yep, we get it!  There is no other Church of God who has a ministry that works as "hard" as LCG ministers do.  Most are from families who have interbreed in the COG through the decades and are accustomed to living life as one of the "elite" who has never worked an honest day of hard physical labor.  They moved into positions of power just because of their last name.

In spite of the anguish and anger LCG members have shared here about how they have been treated in LCG, Weston feels the criticism is uncalled for.  Weston then goes on to claim that because all of the ministers have been "lay members" in the past, they apparently are incapable of being abusive.  Supposedly, they would have been abused themselves and would never dream of doing such a thing to others.  One clear fact that the COG, worldly churches, civic groups and most corporations in "the world" know, is how many times that have heard people say, while still on the bottom rung, "If I ever were in that position I would NEVER do such things."  Then, once they get promoted or ordained and have drunk the kool-aide of power, they turn out more abusive and nastier than the people before them.  Does Weston honestly believe that when Rod McNair disfellowships members for working in nursing homes because he claims the elderly are possessed by demons, that this is normal Christian behavior?

Weston then goes on to proclaim he has never been abusive and that all the allegations against him are wrong.  Of course, as usual, he takes no responsibility and blames the old Worldwide Church of God for this problem.

So, where is this heading? Let me return to the opening paragraph of this editorial. While I had made many mistakes over the more than two decades I had been in the ministry at the time, I think I had a respectable reputation among most members and those over me. But then, after being transferred to a new assignment, my wife and I suddenly faced several accusations that were sent to the headquarters of the Church. One was that we “didn’t show enough love.” Whether true or not—and I assert that it was untrue—how does one defend himself against such an accusation? There were also three or four accusations that were totally false and could easily be proven so.
This was when the Worldwide Church of God was breaking down, and—as I have often said—when love is pitted against law, it is time to head for cover. The result of these accusations was that I was considered guilty regardless of the facts, at least those that could be verified one way or the other.
Some people look back on past events and learn, while others self-justify and frame their account of what happened to favor themselves. Enduring false accusations from members is something every minister must learn to accept, but when those “over you” carelessly pronounce you guilty when the clear evidence shows otherwise, it is another matter. I must confess it took both Carol and me a good three years to get past what happened, and only after we had left that organization due to the total apostasy taking place.
Even while talking to Dr. Meredith and Mr. Carl McNair about joining with them to do the Work, I mentioned briefly what happened and told them I would never again take such treatment sitting down. But I was wrong.  

I was wrong—not because anything similar has occurred since, but because my attitude disagreed with scriptural instruction. Peter taught, “For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:19–21).
Those are powerful words—words that are easy to read, easy to understand, yet difficult to practice on any level. How easily they roll off our tongues, but those words do not always reflect what comes out of our hearts! At that time, instead of comprehending what Peter instructed and what our Savior did, I discovered how many other men and women had similar experiences. Something Dr. Winnail recently said certainly applied in our case: “Disgruntled people find disgruntled people.”
I have never seen a Church of God splinter group get so easily butthurt over a blog as LCG does with this one.  Is it because so many LCG members read here and make comments?  Is it because they cannot control and stop those members, no matter how many times they threaten them?

Weston continues, and it is quite obvious, that he considers he was NEVER wrong in his past interactions with COG members, particularly those he was over in WCG.  Apparently, once he came over to the "true light" of Rod Meredith and the Living Church of God he was set on a new path, one of righteousness.  On this new path, he realized that all of those grumpy people in WCG were the issue and only about 2% his.
That was one lesson I had to learn, and it came only after I had a change in direction. Once I was focused again on preaching the Gospel, the anger subsided, and I could see more clearly. Then I was able to forget those things which were behind and look to those things which are ahead. 
The second lesson came as a result of learning the first. Only then was I able to evaluate what had happened with a fresh perspective. I know in my heart that most of the problem was not me, but I could finally admit to myself and to God that I could have handled the matter better. Yes, I was part of the problem. I cannot say whether my part was 10 percent, 15 percent, or 2 percent, but I at least had to take responsibility for my own shortcomings.
Still trying to ingrain in LCG members, is the requirement to submit to those over you.  Its the government thing almost every single time.  Grumpy and critical people are not submissive. After all, they are only doing what is right and the members are reacting wrong.  Then to further take no responsibility, he blames members again.
I drew several conclusions from this kind of situation. First, I needed to internalize Peter’s message about enduring wrongful suffering. Second, I needed to commit myself to never becoming bitter over someone else’s wrongdoing. Perhaps I will be corrected wrongfully, but that does not mean the person doing so has evil intent. Yet even if he does, Peter instructs us in the way to handle these things. I had to conclude that as long as those over me are God’s true, if imperfect, servants, I must submit to that authority. After all, following baptism, I had hands laid upon me. I had voluntarily admitted, even if
A minister’s mistakes come in many forms. We sometimes speak unwisely, even offensively. See the third chapter of James’ letter, where he warns us not to covet becoming a teacher of the truth: “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body” (vv. 1–2). Christ warns us about offending “little ones”—those who are new to the faith, lacking experience or wisdom (Matthew 18:6). Some are quick to quote this, but is this the scripture a longtime member should apply to himself? Or rather, should he not look to another verse: “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble,” or as it says in the King James Version, “and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165).
It is my hope, dear brethren, that you can learn from my experience. There is the easy way to learn and the hard way to learn. One leads to life and the other can ultimately lead to death. As Paul instructs us, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:14–15). 
So beware LCG members who complain to HQ about abusive ministers.  In their eyes, you are just as guilty as they are.  Once again the responsibility shifts to the members and not the ministry taking account of their actions. They are just weak little men just like you dumb sheep and make little mistakes, so please forgive them, you are REQUIRED to!  Them to you, not so much so.  Disfellowshipment is the answer or more two hour sermons on church government and why you must submit.
From time to time, complaints come to my attention about a minister who is thought to be mistreating someone or teaching something not quite right. Brethren, I have been guilty of each of those mistakes on some occasions. Yes, over a period of nearly 50 years, I have missed the mark more than once or twice—mostly through ignorance, never through intention to do so. I am not talking about doing away with the Sabbath or the law of God, but sometimes I have, without wrong intent, spoken incorrectly about a scripture or prophecy that I misunderstood. I have also overreacted in dealing with certain situations, but again, it was not with malice or evil intent. I’m human. So is your minister, and so are you.
Marriages often fail because one or both fail this test. Some individuals drop out of one Church of God to attend a different Church of God because they find that easier than putting up with their minister or other members. Some people stay within a Church of God group, but physically move to be near their favorite minister, one who “understands” or promotes them. Yet, Paul tells us that there are different “gifts,” “ministries” (“administrations,” KJV), and “activities” (1 Corinthians 12:4–6). No two ministers are the same. This is one reason we try to train ministers under more than one man. We learn different lessons from different individuals. Focus on what is good and do not look for the bad. We should be able to discern between a moment when someone’s particular weakness is on display and times when someone is clearly falling into rank apostasy. There is a difference!
Brethren, we must learn to get along together. Pride and oversensitivity are often at the heart of our problems. Sometimes ministers are insecure and overreact when challenged with a question they cannot answer, or when being told they are wrong about something. Both ministers and members must put aside pride and vanity. We must all learn to speak openly but respectfully with one another, and we must stop looking for the faults in others. Remember Jesus’ admonition: “Judge [condemn] not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:1–2).
Never once in the entire article does he actually take any responsibility for his actions nor those of the ministry that people are critical of.  He deflects throughout the entire article shifting the blame to the members and their bad attitudes.  Their refusal to submit to correction and church government is the ultimate issue that is causing all the negativity.  As usual, brethren, it is all your fault!

As Gerald Flurry Sinks Further Into Madness, the Youth are Leaving the Church and Half of the Members Find His Messages "Hard to Take"

From Exit and Support Letters
I came into the PCG in June of 1996 under Wilbur MaloneDennis Leap and Cal Craven. I attended the Columbus and Cincinnati congregations for Sabbath and Holy Days. On the Sabbath on January 18, 1997, I remember hearing a Gerald Flurry sermon on cassette (this was before DVDs were used) where old Gerald prophesied that the Black Gentiles (his words) would rise up and riot against the White Israelite's of the USA because of Bill Cosby's son who was killed on HWA's death anniversary 3 days before on Jan. 16. 1997 by a White assailant. He said this would culminate in race riots in the major cities. Of course none of this transpired at the time and I filed it under a "delayed prophecy" that would eventually come true like all the other false prophesies of HWA that were just waiting to be fulfilled. 
I write this because of GF's latest false "prophecy" of D. Trump being re-elected and deporting all of the PCG members and then being assassinated. Gerald Flurry is a con man and a fraud and is only out to steal his gullible members' tithe and offering money. He cannot back up anything he predicts. Jeane Dixon had a better record of predicting the Future than old brother Gerry ever did. 
I was just wondering if any of your long time members remember this bogus Bill Cosby prophecy of times past. All of the cassettes have been destroyed like any good cult would do to cover itself.
I am in contact with one retired person in the PCG that still attends services. From what I have been told the congregations are split between the die hard Flurrites and those who are finding brother Gerry's new Revelations hard to take. Most stay in because of family members, spouses, jobs/positions in the congregations, and dating potential mates. There is a lot of pressure to attend Holy Days and Personal Appearance Campaigns as well as Fund Raisers and Fruit Sales. Most of the PCG youth are heading for the hills as soon as they reach 18 with the exception of the sons and daughters of the privileged elite such as contact persons, deacons, children of ministers and favored lackeys and cronies of the ministry. If you drink the Kool Aid as a PCG youth and be a good boot licker you might be able to attend PCG Youth Camp in Edmond.
Comment: Also, "Flurry declared the Los Angeles riots of 1992 were predicted in Ezekiel 5, even though the 'city' referred to in Ezekiel 5 is 'Jerusalem' (see Ezekiel 5:5)." (Quoted from footnote #2 in Jim Kazimir article "Does Gerald Flurry Misquote and Fail to Understand the Scriptures?") 

Friday, August 9, 2019

Restored Church of God: "Members who were treated with disdain by their parents might find it difficult to receive correction from the Church’s leadership, or even find it hard to talk to them."

Those fun folk over in Wadsworth, Ohio have a few words of wisdom on why church unity is so important and that it should produce a "joyful life."

Dave Pack's, Restored Church of God has a new article up on its web site by Salasi D. Jezhi, titled Is Your Joy Full?

If you are an RCG member there is a quick answer to that question and it is NO!  How can a church members life be "joy full" when Dave and his henchmen strip every bit of your humanity away by unnecessary demands and unchristian doctrines?

Jezhi writes:

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This famous phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence summarizes the ultimate goal in each person’s mind—happiness.
Happiness is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a state of well-being and contentment…a pleasurable or satisfying experience.”
One way many seek to achieve this is by building a family. Many experience their greatest happiness within their families or with cherished friends. The support and security of family and friends provide a sense of content.
However, many people do not experience such support in their families. Instead they witness disagreement, division and chaos—leaving members unhappy. Others are isolated from family relationships or friendships.
Family was designed by God to foster joy. Yet mankind has not practiced obedience to the laws God put in place that would allow him to form and preserve reliable relationships. The result is the majority of people have not been able to have true, lasting joy.

God is joyful, and He wants His children to be this way as well. Jesus Christ made this clear when He described the path to full joy. He told His disciples: “If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love…so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be full” (John 15:10-11). Christ’s joy was the result of keeping God’s Law, and it was full—meaning replete, crammed, leveled up, satisfied and finished.
Remember, this is the Restored Church of God speaking here.  A church that has ripped families apart and destroyed hundreds of lives over its few short years of existence. A church that is run by a megalomaniac who has alienated his own children, demanded that his followers give him everything they have, because he already owns it, and has uttered hundreds of failed prophecies that have the potential to lead to deadly consequences.

Jezhi continues by pointing out the roadblocks that are the  root of unhappiness that may occur in church members lives,

In God’s Church, His Holy Spirit gives us understanding of the right way to live. Regardless of what state we are in when He calls us out of the world, we can overcome our past problems and become united with our new spiritual family to live sincerely happy lives.
One of the most common roadblocks Church members face is moving past the problems that stem from their upbringing. When these are not properly addressed, they can cause a person to view the doctrines in God’s Church, its traditions, or the conduct of fellow brethren through a negative perspective. A few examples:
  • Members who were reared in an economically depressed area might view successful brethren with suspicion. Or they may be critical of brethren who have finer homes or newer cars.
  • Members who were treated with disdain by their parents might find it difficult to receive correction from the Church’s leadership, or even find it hard to talk to them.
  • Members who were treated unfairly by their childhood peers might find it difficult to start friendships in the Church.
As usual, it is all the member's fault that they are not submitting to the overlords of the RCG and their heavy demands that they place upon members lives.  Having bad parents can cause you to rebel against correction from Dave Pack and his ministers.

Having a been picked upon hi school will lead you to mistrust church members and prohibit friendships.  Never mind the fact that so many church members are vindictive and manipulative in their so-called friendships. Friendships that are friendships as long as they can use you for their benefit.  "friends" that will gossip about you and turn you in to the ministry for the slightest infraction, practically if they think it will give them more power in the sight of the minister they are trying to impress.
The point is Christians often have excess baggage from their pasts that can affect them now—sometimes for the rest of their lives. Continuing to carry these issues can lead to withdrawing from Church activities and opportunities to serve and fellowship. The end result is tragic. Such individuals often leave God’s Church.
There is NOTHING tragic about RCG members leaving the church.  They find newfound freedom from abuse and from deadly doctrines that strip every bit of humanity away from individuals. 

Dave Pack and his henchmen have a hard time with anyone who does not participate 100% in all HQ and church functions.  It makes no difference if you are dead tired, have had no time off from work, sick, or on vacations.  If Dave calls, you are to drop everything and do his bidding at any activity he designates.

Role of Church Unity

Read Hebrews 10:24-25: “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting [comforting] one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.”
We cannot be comforted and provoked to love unless we meet with others. With our earthly families, we enjoy a network of love, support and encouragement naturally. But, in the Church, we must choose and put effort into developing bonds of unity and expressing outgoing concern.
Those full of joy are frequently involved, craving to be around others who are of like mind. They observe that it is good and pleasant for brethren to dwell (meaning remain) together (Psa. 133:1).
We must put the world behind us and befriend fellow brethren, those who will eventually stick closer to us than even our physical brothers and sisters (Prov. 18:24). God says we are to prioritize spending time with brethren over those outside the Church who do not share our beliefs (Gal. 6:10).
Unhappy, downcast members tend to avoid Church activities with excuses ranging from having “other things to do” to not liking a particular activity. Recognize that this is often the carnal mind justifying its preference to stay where it is—in the past!
Church activities (socials, picnics, dances, camping trips, potlucks and more) should not become routine in a Christian’s mind—events that must be done and with which we must get through. They are for the benefit of the Church and should result in fellowship for all involved. These events stimulate camaraderie among God’s people and help to build lasting friendships, which result in happiness.
Remaining unified with brethren ensures “iron sharpens iron” (Prov. 27:17) and we glean profitable experiences that help us overcome our weaknesses.

Ask: Am I as involved in Church activities as I should be? Do I willingly serve and promote unity to help brethren mature, overcome the past and become truly happy?

Those who do not want to participate in events are proving to others that they have no joy in their lives. Really?  They don't want to do these things because they are unhappy and downcast? Really?

It is also a well-known fact that Church of God brethren do NOT stick by other members better than close family members.  Church members will stab you in the back quicker than anyone else will.  Those who have left the church can testify to that and to the fact that those in the "world" treat them better than any church member ever did.

Jezhi then goes on to state that glum church members will find these words hard to swallow.  

Servitude is a requirement of Christians!  If you do what Dave commands of you, you WILL be happy!  Only when you lower yourself below Dave's level will you ever achieve happiness. So go ahead and debase yourself and be a willing servant to Dave! Give him all your belongings and money and you will be happy!

The contents of this article may be difficult to swallow for those of us who tend to be more glum. Yet we must all take an honest look at ourselves. Whenever people drown in their sorrows they focus on one thing—THEMSELVES!
Being preoccupied with personal problems causes people to neglect serving others and prevents others from effectively serving them.
When brethren become unhappy they find “reasons” to shun and pull away from serving others. They forget or neglect this biblical advice: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).
Servitude is a spiritual law that, if consistently applied, results in happiness. When we choose to serve people, we develop a selfless mindset because we lower ourselves. We then feel fulfilled knowing we contributed to improving others’ situations. This elation makes us want to repeat such acts to experience those emotions again.
Every Christian must suffer. We can endure trials and difficulties as they come and still rejoice because we know that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”
Remaining unified with and serving brethren in the Church are keys to building and maintaining joy in your life.
Strive to never miss ANY OPPORTUNITY to be around your spiritual family. Forget those things that are behind! With God’s help, crush thoughts of resentment and bitterness, realizing that Satan wants you to be socially isolated from others who have God’s Spirit.
Overall, remain obedient to God to ensure you experience happiness and are able to bring it to others. Ultimately, it will keep you on the path to the true fullness of joy in God’s Kingdom.
Everything in the Church of God boils down to obedience and being unified.  One must always be obedient to whichever overlord is in charge, no matter how ridiculous and absurd the man might be and the things he might say are.

God certainly never intended for the Dave Pack's, Gerald Flurry's, Bob Thiel's and James Malm's of the world to trap church members in such legalistic hellholes of existence.  It's no wonder people are miserable in the Church of God these days.  There is nothing to be happy about or to look forward to.  The only happy COG members are those who have left!

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Why Does Living Church of God Have So Many Problems With Its Ministers?

We are to seek "wise counsel". Unfortunately many in the ministry have not been promoted because of their superior "wisdom", Biblical or otherwise. Nor were they given their titles and positions because of their overwhelming love and concern for the brethren they are supposed to be serving. They have their positions because they have demonstrated that they will support whomever signs their paycheck, even if that means going against Biblical principal, moral obligation, common sense, or even their own consciences. Their job is to defend the policies of the organization to which they belong, not necessarily to give sound, thoughtful, or even in many cases Biblical advice. They have proven that many of them are not equipped to give even the most basic financial, marital, child-rearing, or other advice, or to handle mental or emotional problems, domestic abuse, child abuse, addiction issues, or other serious problems people might have. Many have trouble answering even the most basic of Biblical questions, especially if someone challenges the corporate church position on a given topic. They can only resort to repeating the "official" position even if it doesn't answer the given question, or if there are Biblical holes in the argument. 

Many brethren have learned the hard way not to share too much personal information with the ministry not just because of the trust and confidentiality concerns, but also because the issue is completely mishandled the majority of the time, and in many cases, the problem is made worse by the "intervention" of the minister. Women, in particular, have learned to be very cautious about confiding any sort of marital issue, because most of the time the problem is never addressed and they are made the scapegoats. The pat answer is almost always that the female in the situation just needs to be more submissive, understanding, sexually available, etc. I have personally witnessed this being the case in everything from cases of domestic abuse to adultery, or porn addiction.

Rather than coming along side their fellow Christians as friends and brethren, gently leading and teaching by example, recognizing the gifts of others and equipping the body to work together and minister to one another, these men have been taught and conditioned to view themselves as some sort of superhuman spiritual gurus, who have all the answers no matter what the issue might be. In their arrogance, they do not know how to simply tell someone "I don't know" or "Let's find out together" or to realize when they are beyond their depth and need to refer the person to someone more qualified to help. Much rarer still will you hear any minister utter words like "I was wrong" or "I'm sorry".

I recently heard a minister in another cog group tell his audience he doesn't give out child rearing advice because he and his wife were not blessed with children of their own, and he had no personal experience to help him understand or relate to the issues people might have in that area. I walked away from that talk with a little more respect for this man, because though I might not agree with him on every issue, he at least showed that he had enough maturity to admit that he personally was not the most qualified person to give advice on this particular issue. This is a rare quality among cog ministry.

These men expect loyalty, trust, and monetary support from their fellow brethren simply because they were "ordained" and given a title by some other religious authority. Some even see themselves as modern day priests or Moses figures, the brethren being their personal "children of Israel". This however denies the Biblical principle of the priesthood of all believers, as well as the fact that we no longer need human priests to mediate between us and God. All Christians must test the spirits, and none of us is obligated to accept bad advice from anyone, minister or not.

Concerned Sister
August 8, 2019 at 1:29 AM

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Living Church of God Members Still Are Not Seeking Counsel From Ministry

The above two pictures are from a Facebook page of a group that deals with spiritual abuse recovery from all kinds of churches and sects.

The first picture is of a child's coloring sheet that teaches children to unquestionably listen to what their pastor says and believe it.  That is what the Worldwide Church of God indoctrinated us all when it kept reinforcing that the ministry was a direct pipeline from God and God spoke to us through them. The ministry and especially top church leaders, were incapable of making a mistake, whether theologically or in daily counsel.  From YES lessons to the Bible Correspondence Course, it was all laid out in black and white as to what a person was to believe and to never question.

The second picture is of a similar vein in that church members are not to question a pastor on anything.  COG members were trained to never question the leadership, the ministry, doctrines, or anything printed in the myriad of books, booklets, and magazines.  To do so placed one's salvation in jeopardy.

Recently, there was an article up about how those in Christian churches who attend regularly are more prone to ask clergy for advice on certain important decisions.  The difference in Church of God ministers and ministers in many Christian churches is that many of those men are well trained in counseling techniques and have hundreds of hours of classroom work in counseling.  Church of God ministers, regardless of the affiliation, do NOT have training in proper counseling techniques.

Herbert Armstrong, Rod Meredith, and others regularly mocked and ridiculed therapists and psychiatrists as deceived agents of Satan, while touting the ministry of "god's church" as the true rightful heirs to counseling.  The counseling techniques used by many COG ministers have led to suicides, broken marriages, divorces, and even murder.

Living Church of God currently has issues with its members not listening to its church leaders. Scott Winnail is trying to reinforce in LCG members the need they should have to go to their ministers for advice.  Because, after all, any advice from a COG minister is directly inspired by God.

Given the abysmal track record of spiritual abuse in the Living Church of God, why would any LCG member ever do such a thing?

Regular Church-Goers Seek More Counsel: A new study published by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research highlighted an interesting finding: Among those who possess a religious affiliation, people who attend church services more regularly are also more likely to seek counsel and advice from their clergy concerning important decisions (, May 2019). These findings were true even among religious groups considering themselves more “liberal.” Regular church attendance appears to have a powerful impact not only on the way attendees view their ministers, but also on the degree to which their values are socially conservative in nature.
It is interesting how these recent findings confirm what the Bible has stated in its pages for millennia. Nearly 3,000 years ago, Solomon wrote, “a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5) and, “he who heeds counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15). The Scriptures also state that both “safety” (Proverbs 11:14) and wisdom (Proverbs 12:15) can be gained from a multitude of counsel. Being willing to seek counsel and advice is a hallmark of wisdom. Modern research shows that those who attend church regularly are more likely to include their clergy in such counsel—seeking feedback, advice, and direction. The Bible reveals that a willingness to seek counsel is something God desires of us—a key ingredient to growing in wisdom. To begin your journey of growing in wisdom, be sure to read “The Way to Wisdom.”—Scott Winnail

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Unqualified to Teach: The Reality of an Embarrassing College Education for the Ministry

There are two terms I have heard over the years that always cut to my heart and left me with my own personal recognition that I made a very bad choice in my youth to go to Ambassador College and affiliate with the Worldwide Church of God.  You could not have talked me out of it at the time. But too late old and all that...   

The terms were:

"Embarrassing College"

The first, while giving me pause for thought,  I can dismiss personally for my own reasons and understanding of my own motives and care of the churches and love for the people. 

The second is simply true. I was not trained in any professional way in ministry and it was and is embarrassing.  My own education in ministry became the origin of my term "Mere Bible Reader" because that is how a minister was trained back in the day. That is how I was trained in ministry.  The teachers were mere Bible readers themselves as was HWA and GTA who took ministry off in directions they ought not to have gone in the first place. 

The ministry of the Worldwide Church of God and her daughters have never been qualified to teach the scriptures, pastor churches or be anywhere near a "helper of their joy" to its laity.  While sincerely wanting to be in ministry in my early life and probably believing I was being trained At Ambassador, which in my ignorance and not having grown up in it all, I honestly thought was a seminary that was spot on, in hindsight, I was poorly and badly trained in ministry. 

No one taught the basics, or probably even knew what these basics were, of:

Exegesis- to draw out extracting what is in the text the way it was written. Finding the true meaning and explain the passages of scripture from their context

figurative language- the moon turns to blood (meaning red). look for the literal meaning first before attempting to interpret it as symbolic.

Hermeneutics-The science of interpreting the written word, to find what the text actually meant. What God originally meant it to say. Eliminating what it never could have meant. This includes the whole field of interpretation. The use of tools such as a different bibles (word for word translations and paraphrase), bible dictionaries, interlinear, Greek word pictures and tenses, Concordance,etc.

Hyperbole- Ps.119:20 My soul is crushed with longing. Luke 14:26 "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." An exaggeration or overstatement not to be taken literally but used to express another meaning.

Idiom- an expression of language or dialect of a people that is not understood outside its culture. A special terminology.

Isogesis-Reading into a text what isn’t there. Interpreting it by different rules than a consistent understanding from the Bible. Using a presupposition to arrive at the meaning, by ignoring the language and culture it was used in.

Metaphor- Jn.6:48 I am the bread of life or eat my body and drink my blood- a figure of speech in which one object is liked to another by speaking of it as if it were the other but in fact is not.

Parable- A figure of speech in a story setting to illustrate a moral or spiritual or heavenly truth. Taken from the peoples everyday experiences. Mt.13 The disciples asked why do you speak in parables. It has been to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given . The principle is (Isa. 6:9-10) to reveal to those who are soft in heart seeking truth , they will continue to be given more . For those who are hard of heart  it is hidden until they repent. In Mk.4:13 Jesus explains In understanding this first parable of the sower is the key to understanding them all.

Simile- Rev.1:14 "His eyes were like flames of fire." A figure of speech expressing comparison or likeness, terms such as like, as ,so. ____________________

Add to this and in the realm of Higher Criticism, the actual origins of scripture, the problems of errancy in the texts, the concept of forgery nicely labeled pseudepigrapha, Midrash, Authorship issues, textural contradictions, apologetics, historical difficulties and what to do with good science done well along with many other real and important perspectives that need be addressed. 

There was nothing on mental health issues or how to actually and lovingly deal with them in the congregation.  They were mostly  a function of demon problems evidently. (I grew up going to see my brother in a state hospital every week of my young life so was very familiar with mental health issues as well as physical handicaps, which he had)

There was nothing on proper counseling methods and approaches to problems unless disfellowshipping and marking people counts or appealing to scripture on whose the boss in the family and who definitely is not. 

But is was not so. The bottom line reason was that the church was based on Herbert W. Armstrong's views of scripture and his only. HWA took unkindly to criticism or even a difficult question. He's not know the theological issue much less the answer or views to begin with.

 There was never a "come let us reason together " concept that didn't end in HWA coming out on top and the reasoner being marginalized.  Today PCG is based solely on Flurry's view of scripture and Pack's the same. Both are miserably mistaken and untrained in the scriptures. 

The reality is that both men were never trained in ministry and are qualified only, as was myself, as a mere Bible reader.  The term is not meant to be an insult but rather simply to reflect the fact that reading something does not qualify as a deep understanding of all the above concepts, problems and issues contained in it so one can rightly minister to others if that is one's desire and conviction as to where the truths of life reside. 

My training in ministry and that of all WCG ministers was this with some I simply can't recall:

Year One

Harmony of the Gospels-Roderick C Meredith
He read them to us and used the time to give sermons. He knew nothing about the origins, problems with, politic and history of their formation nor taught it.  It never would occur to him they were not as harmonious as he thought them to be. No discussion. (Well once I did ask a question but lived to regret it)

Speech 1
Glorified Spokesman's Club with grades

Old Testament Survey-David John Hill
Old Testament read to us like story time before bed.  We had to read the boring parts on our own and verify that we did. No discussion

English Lit Class
I have no idea what that class was about or what was being taught.
We did have a Japanese instructor once there who invited a guest speaker and ask us, and this is the real way it came out, "Preese, no crapping in crass"  We complied and did not crap in the crass. That came later during scandalous and drama filled  times to come in ministry. 

Music Appreciation-Lucy Martin
Required by HWA for our refinement I suppose. I had no clue or cared. Beyond boring

Principles of Living/ Missing Dimension in Sex
Don't get me started

Year Two

Second Year Bible
The Genesis Flood by Whitcomb and Morris
(This is the class Dave Pack refers to when he claims that he studied evolution in detail 50 years ago)
We had to outline the entire book.  No discussion, no questions and the teacher had no clue about the terrible science and geological insanity it presented and was already debunked in the real world of such topics.

World History-Roy Schultz
A terribly inaccurate review of world history as presented from Genesis 1 to Genesis 11

Speech Class
Glorified Spokesman's Club with grades

Chemistry-Doug Winnail
"Isn't creation amazing"  No chemistry learned, no homework thank God and it was kindergarten compared to my Hight School Advanced Placement Chemistry 

Other stuff I can't recall

Year Three

Third Year Bible-Someone
More Bible reading 

Science Something-Ken Hermann

World History-Dr. Hermann Hoeh
Dr. Hoeh would simply start talking about the Bronze Age or something with no context, no background, no point and no reason I could perceive. I don't recall a final exam but if there was one I returned the favor I'm sure. 

Year Four

Fourth Year Bible-George Kemnitz
Epistles of Paul
Church Letters
Maybe Revelation

No discussion, no questions, just more Bible reading with commentary 
(George later became the Regional Director in Chicago and brought me from Minneapolis to Chicago along with Dave Pack . I was his man Friday and yes I mowed lawns, babysat kids and was chided for leaving the sauna or going through a door before him.  Miserable year and I got fired the first time in the "Great East Coast Rebellion" by association.  Should have stayed fired.

4th Year Speech
Only for those going into ministry "maybe"  This was decided by men of power later in the year and announced to the couple out of the blue in a public forum. 
Glorified Spokesman's Club with more grades.

Some other unmemorable classes

That's it!  Add to this weekly sermons and Bible studies by the untrained as well and I was good to go evidently. I moaned inside when HWA showed up because we all know what the topic would be again. I moaned more when Gerald Waterhouse showed up.

"Refresher Programs for Ministry"

Weeks long sessions being flown into Pasadena to hear the men of power speak to us all over again. 
It had potential to mature the ministry but fell far short due to really being brought out to check on the loyalty of the ministry and keep them all speaking the same wrong things on behalf of HQ. 
Leroy Neff spent four hours in one session on "Marriage" by reading and commenting on EVERY scripture on Marriage from Nave's Topical Bible. I felt he did not prepare properly! lol

We also started to talk about oral sex and the Christian but Burk McNair started by accidently saying that personally he found the topic distasteful and that was the end of it as we could not all stop laughing. No edict was issued when the RD of the French Churches noted that if they did the entire French Church would fall away. 

HWA brought up the topic of the Two Trees most times

Robyn Webber gave a talk on how we could keep our sermon topics on 3x5 cards in a file box. That was interesting...…….and well worth the 3000 mile flight to California all by itself

Bernie Schnippert preached at us in a somewhat arrogant tone and I noticed an ad in the LA Times on the floor by my feet of a Rock and Mineral Show in Long Beach that day.  I feigned potty break and  left for Long Beach. Great Show!

Refresher Programs were exhausting and just as shallow and compliant as Embarassing College was.

So many memories, so much time, so little training in ministry
Without common sense I'd have had no sense at all. 
(Thanks Mom and Dad)

Personal regrets? Yes, of course.  But that is the result of years of more drama and scandal in WCG than this boy could take. My own mental health suffered quietly through it and the conflict of my still believing it was The True Church run by fools was a difficult one to maneuver through in ministry.

 My coping mechanisms were not always the best of choices. I learned the art of "Ask and you shall not have. Do not ask and all things are possible" when it came to how to pastor in real life. There were many a "snowflake from heaven" as we called HQ memos I ignored simply because they were simply stupid and many a "Must Be Played in the Churches" tapes that I did not play and hoped it would not come up. I never felt people should drive as far as they did to hear a taped sermon no matter who gave it and the "must" part of "to be played" often puzzled me as to why it was so vital I do so. Tapes mostly were meant to keep the local church in contact with the leadership in Pasadena. They worried about that connection with the locals I am sure. 

All this to say that from my experience and perspective, having been there, the ministry of the Churches of God are not qualified in the actual practice of ministry and Biblical Studies much less the more practical aspects of proper  counseling and care in the lives of real people with real lives. 

Yes, I am an atheist and no, I did not just have a bad experience with "that Church".  I did indeed attend Embarassing College and I was not trained in ministry as I know I would have had I gone to Roberts Wesleyan Seminary, which I also had been accepted to, instead of affiliating with WCG.

The ministry of the splinters is personality based and the personalities are diverse and perverse.
I believe down deep most ministers under others understand this and simply have no alternatives left to them in life. Others adopt the ridicuous and various callings they personally perceive , such as a Dave Pack, Gerald Flurry or Bob Thiel and they are simply and badly mistaken.

Some few have gone in through the years and gotten a better education in theological studies and ministry. Often they don't survive well in their Church of God choice and most aren't used to replace those that do not better inform themselves but have "Rank".  That's just how it works. 

Personally I am grateful that I did not continue in any splinter but choose a new path , no not the one I would have chosen as a younger man, but one that served me better and kept me away from the stress and strain of being an undertrained and over indoctrinated "ministurd" and graduate of Embarrassing College, Pasadena, California. 

 Thanks for listening. 
Too long I know

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Fear Religion: Herbert Armstrong and the All Powerful Satan

I made a very strong statement in my last submission, where I said that I believed that the Worldwide Church of God was not a Christian Church - because of it's focus on the power of the Enemy. I mentioned a Worldwide News Article which put a lot of focus - not on the saving power of Jesus Christ - but on the extreme influence that Herbert believed Satan was having on the Church. 

The message he was giving the Church on December 8, 1980 was not by any means a Christian message of reassurance of the power of Christ. The message was a message which was completely and totally wrapped in a suffocating dose of fear of the enemy, lest you start to think in any way against him, the Church, the Church's Government, doctrine, or the ministers - lest suddenly you come under the influence of the evil one. Check out these quotes. 


"If you allow a bit of self-centeredness, vanity, covetousness, envy or jealousy, spirit of competition or resentment of authority - especially that of the Government of God and His Church - to enter your mind - if you begin to act on such impulse, you have already entered Satan's way." 
The Christian focus would not be stating "you have already entered Satan's way" - that's fear religion. The Christian focus would have talked about prayer, and that the Battle belongs to God through the victory of Christ. It would be focusing and centered on Christ, not on how you are slipping into the depths of the abyss because of your failures and imperfections. Because when you start to focus on what you are doing wrong all the time, you aren't focusing on the positive, but the negative, and your growth is stunted. It's amazing how much of this entire diatribe is resolutely and powerfully negative. 

Then Herbert says: 
"I would never want to put myself in the hands of a psychiatrist or therapist. If one would ask me to totally relax my mind, and let my mind be blank, I would immediately rise up and walk away. If I should obey I might open the door of my mind to a demon." 
More fear religion! It's as if he never believed that Christ is in you, anyway! Where's Christ in you? Where's God? If you let your mind calm down, if you let your thoughts ease - was he saying Christ was never in you in the first place? Is he saying that Satan is more powerful than Christ? That letting your mind be blank in calmness forces out the Holy Spirit or Christ in you? Because that certainly sounds like that's what he's saying, isn't it? Herbert said: 
"Under normal circumstances, NO ONE NEED FEAR A DEMON MAY TAKE POSSESSION, unless you open your mind by letting it be blank, or under control of another, or you lose your mind in an emotional angry rage
There's no "unless". If you have Christ in you, you are a new creation. This is biblical. The old is gone, the new has come. You are under control of Christ. He has purchased you. He has adopted you. His fruits are evident in you. The Holy Spirit resides with you. Having a calm and sound mind - peaceful (blank) doesn't case Christ out or allow Satan in. Christ is far more powerful than that! Where's the power of Christ? I am often amazed how many times Herbert relegates Christ to one of the most innefective, wimpiest, non-powerful entities ever to exist in his writings - utterly powerless in so many ways. 

Then Herbert says: 
"Satan is going about seeking whom he may destroy from God's Church and Kingdom. Don't let the one he destroys be YOU!"
Again. Where's the power of Christ? Where's the message of Adoption? Reconciliation? Victory? And is the Battle the Lord's - or ours? Who told us to fight our own battles? The Battle IS the Lord's - and were we taught this? 

Here is one of the most Anti-Gospel things that Herbert Armstrong ever said:
"Don't think, well that applied to them, not to ME! Be sure you do not start, even so little at first, even in Satan's direction. Let no jealousy or contention of any kind against another -whether another member or another YOUR RANK in the Work, even start to KINDLE in your mind! For God is NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS. For if God spared not even the ANGELS that sinned He would no more spare YOU!"
Is Jesus emphasized here? No. Is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit emphasized here? No. Are the fruits of the Spirit listed here? No. The message here is fear of Satan, not living in the presence of Jesus Christ. For the Believer, the Devil has no power - a message absolutely absent from Herbert's anti-Christian message. Where is the Lord at all in this diatribe? Anywhere? No, the message he gives is that there is not an indwelling Holy Spirit working in and with you. The picture that is painted is of an absent Holy Spirit and an open door to an empty house, where there is no Jesus, and no Spirit, and no indwelling Christ in you, where the slightest sinful thought or action sends Jesus cowarding aside, where there is no room for repentance and forgiveness as an adopted Son of God - just FEAR of a devil that will creep in at the slightest wayward thought. What kind of Gospel message is this? Where's the victory over sin and death the Bible talks about? Where's the power of God? Where's the "new creation"? Where's any Christian message in any of this? Herbert said "If God spared not even the ANGELS that sinned he would no more spare YOU!". HELLO! John 3:16 Says that God so loved the World that He (ALREADY) gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life! HELLO, JESUS has already spared us through his death, resurrection and life! Who is he talking to here? Believers, or unbelievers? Christians, or non-Christians? I say again, WHERE is Jesus Christ in ANY OF THIS? 

Let me make this stronger. Was JESUS MENTIONED AT ALL? Not in the Context of the Gospel. Not in the Context of victory in Jesus Christ. Here was Herbert's message in a nutshell: 'Satan is wrathful against the Government of God and if you go against the Government of God you let Satan in." Meaning, the Church - meaning Herbert Armstrong. 

Herbert says in this article if ONE POINT of "truth" is rejected, the Spirit of God "leaves you". Where is this biblical? Where is "I'll never leave you, never forsake you?" In retrospect, we can know that a lot of what Herbert taught was not truth - but lies. A lot of what was taught was unscriptural, presumptuous, and heretical - and when it came to prophecy, outright and blatant lies. This is what you were told not to reject, or "the Spirit" would leave you. What was the truth here? Was it what Herbert told us - or what history reveals the actual, real truth actually was? 

This entire diatribe was written during a time of "attack" on the Worldwide Church of God by the State of California in December of 1980. What this really was was fear religion - trying to keep people on board the Church, his idea of government, his key points on the Sabbath and Holy Days - making people believe any rejection of THESE POINTS - was akin to rejecting Jesus Christ - and opens the door to the devil. He would use language like these two sentences - which are his direct quotes, over and over: 

"Satan is more subtle and diabolically clever than we, many times over." 

"Now Satan will try harder than ever." 

Instead of focusing on the power of Jesus Christ, the love of God, the indwelling of the Spirit, Christ in us, the Holy Spirit as Teacher and Instructor, the adoption of sonship we have in Christ, the New Creation we are in Christ through Jesus, the reconciliation of mankind to the Father, and our personal relationship with the Living Christ - a relationship not built in fear, but in victory - a relationship built in love and atonement with God - we were told that all of that did not matter in the event we doubt or actually think negatively about any of the lies that we were told. The devil was used as a trap to keep people from seeing the truth about Freedom in Christ and Christ in Us in His victory through Him. I sure never saw THESE scriptures mentioned!!!

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart…” Psalm 91: 1-4

"This is what the Lord says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. 2 Chronicles 20:19

"In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. - Romans 8:37

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Corinthians 15:57

“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts.”- Zechariah 4:6

"But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one". - 2 Thessalonians 3:3

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

“One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you." - Joshua 23:10

submitted by SHT