Bad Fruit

The newspaper reporter looked at me with a puzzled look on his face.

“I had some encounters with those Sound Doctrine folks, and I’m really troubled, how did you ever get mixed up with those people?”

I’ve been thinking about that ever since he asked. Of course my initial answer was they acted normal when I first met them. They were friendly, and really seemed to have a genuine love for God. They extended grace and mercy and did not overreact to things. That’s a pretty normal picture I’ve found for cults…”love bombing” is one term I’ve heard that describes the typical initiation of new members into the group. It took quite a long time before things actually started getting weird, and the change was very subtle over the years.

But there’s something else I believe I am seeing that attracted me, based on the wounding and vulnerability I brought with me.

Because I’d made a vow when I was nineteen that “I’d never let anyone use me again”, I became “the user” in an attempt to shield myself from any more pain. That vow led me on a journey of gaining more and more control over everything in my life, especially my relationships.

Since I used work as my drug of choice to escape the pain in my life, I was always successful even when it risked the health of those same relationships. And so I became the breadwinner in all my relationships, retaining control and the upper hand.

As a result of this unhealthy way of living my life, born out of my own wounding and wrong response to it, I believe way down deep I longed for a relationship where I would be taken care of, cherished, nourished, and led in a healthy way. So the leadership I initially saw lived and preached in Sound Doctrine filled a void in my heart and then drew me in as a result of that innate vulnerability.

As that leadership grew into extreme control and abuse over time, the fruit of my unhealthy vow ripened.

Matthew 7:1-2 says: Do not judge lest you be judged. For the way you judge, you will be judged, and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.

I judged (condemned) the man in my life who used and lied to me at age nineteen, setting myself up for the enemy to have the right to measure back to me the same thing I vowed to never let happen in my life. Actually pretty amazing isn’t it? I vowed that no one would ever use me again and these people in twelve years used me up and spit me out…got my business, my car, my house, and hundreds of thousands of dollars leaving me destitute…WOW!

So, how did I get mixed up with a group of complete control freaks who have brought incredible destruction to scores of people and families over the last 35 years in the name of God? I’ll tell you how.

By allowing the pain in my life to go unattended, ignoring the healing Jesus offered…that’s how. I can’t blame anyone but myself. And as I take responsibility for the tragedy of the last twelve years, I can continue to heal and move forward in restoration.

He will restore what the locusts have eaten…and I will learn to deal with my pain in a healthy way so I don’t have to reap anymore bad fruit!

Learning to Love Well

We’re studying the chapter entitled “Grow into an Emotionally Mature Adult” this week and I am amazed at how God has answered my prayer to show me where I’m at on my journey to emotional health. I love the examples given in this chapter that give a true picture of what it looks like if we are emotionally immature in contrast with what real maturity looks like:

Emotional Infants

    Look for others to take care of them
    Have great difficulty entering into the world of others
    Are driven by need for instant gratification
    Use others as objects to meet their needs

Emotional Children

    Are content and happy as long as they receive what they want
    Unravel quickly from stress, disappointments, trials
    Interpret disagreements as personal offenses
    Are easily hurt
    Complain, withdraw, manipulate, take revenge, become sarcastic when they don’t get their way
    Have great difficulty calmly discussing their needs and wants in a mature, loving way

Emotional Adolescents

    Tend to often be defensive
    Are threatened and alarmed by criticism
    Keep score of what they give so they can ask for something later in return
    Deal with conflict poorly, often blaming, appeasing, going to a third party, pouting, or ignoring the issue entirely
    Become preoccupied with themselves
    Have great difficulty truly listening to another person’s pain, disappointments, or needs
    Are critical and judgmental

Emotional Adults

    Are able to ask for what they need, want, or prefer…clearly, directly, honestly
    Recognize, manage, and take responsibility for their own thoughts and feelings
    Can, when under stress, state their own beliefs and values without becoming adversarial
    Respect others without having to change them
    Give people room to make mistakes and not be perfect
    Appreciate people for who they are…the good, bad, and ugly…not for what they give back
    Accurately assess their own limits, strengths, and weaknesses and are able to freely discuss them with others
    Are deeply in tune with their own emotional world and able to enter into the feelings, needs, and concerns of others without losing themselves
    Have the capacity to resolve conflict maturely and negotiate solutions that considers the perspectives of others

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – pgs 178 & 179

When Pastor Ross first preached on this topic last week, I felt like it would be hard for me to judge where I am at since I am not married, or working in an office with co-workers, or living with a room mate, etc., etc. I asked the Lord to put me in some situations where it might be obvious where I am at emotionally…and boy, did He ever answer my prayer!

Many times over the last week I have found myself in conversations with others getting critical and judgmental about the topic of conversation. And as you may have picked up on a few of my posts, I have definitely been preoccupied with myself and my future….that surely doesn’t help me truly listen to others pain and disappointments because I am too wrapped up in my own! I thought back to my tendency to avoid conflict with others and not wanting to rock the boat. Then the Lord reminded me how so many times when I was married I would blame and pout when I didn’t get my way.

Well alrighty then…I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’m an emotional teenager! But praise God He is helping me to learn what it is going to look like to be emotionally healthy, and praise God that I have so many others who desire the same emotionally healthy spirituality walking along side me, and a whole church committed to it!

I look forward to learning how to love well. That’s a long way from where I’ve been for the last twelve years, and I praise God for that.

Bouncing Around

I seem to vacillate between anger and depression / reflection / loneliness these days.

As I reviewed the seven stages of grieving, I can see that I had worked through to acceptance and hope at one point…but as I wait in the confusing in-between, not knowing what God’s plan is for me with work or a place to settle down, I seem to bounce back down to stages three and four.

1. shock and denial
2. pain and guilt
3. anger and bargaining
4. depression, reflection, loneliness
5. the upward turn
6. reconstruction and working through
7. acceptance and hope

It still makes me angry when I think of what was done to me and more importantly the way other young girls had their innocence stolen at the hands of one of the “beloved pastors” of Sound Doctrine.

I forgive them over and over, but to watch them defend a pedophile and leave other young girls in harms way simply makes my blood boil. Losing WinePress is one thing, but knowing it employs people who use and abuse others in such heinous ways causes me incredible angst.

However, I am learning a lot through Bible Study Fellowship as I grow in my understanding of the whole counsel of God in context. I then become angry at myself for not being a better Berean and knowing my Bible better. Had I joined Bible Study Fellowship many years ago in my early years as a Christian, I never would have been drawn into such heretical doctrine. I would’ve seen clearly how often Scriptures were being used out of context to make a point and I would quickly have fled from the evil that was being portrayed as holiness.

So I cannot only feel anger for my abusers, I feel as much for my own lack of diligence and love for God’s word.

But then there’s the depression, reflection and loneliness that overcomes me at times when I confront the fact that I have to start my life all over again with nothing but my faith. I praise God that the loneliness doesn’t last long, since I have good friends locally and on Facebook who love me and support me on this journey. And as I continue to rebuild my broken family relationships that brings me much joy as well.

And then there’s my relationship with Jesus that just seems to grow every day. He is so considerate…gently moving me back on track when I veer off. My emotionally charged reactions to the many injustices I see have landed me in a few ditches along the way, but he just keeps picking me up and sending me back on my journey of healing.

So while I may be bouncing around a lot, it doesn’t take long for the Lord to encourage me and remind me that He is at work.

Those times of reflection help me to see all that God has worked in my heart over the last 5 months and remember all the miracles He has performed just to prove to me that I really can trust Him.

It’s hard to stay angry or depressed for long with such loving and merciful God on the throne.

From the Inside Out

We sang a worship song today called From the Inside Out.

It went right along with what the Lord has been speaking to me this week. I continue to struggle with trusting the Lord to provide and make clear how I am to support myself, and He takes me to Matthew 6:25-34 and reminds me not to be anxious about tomorrow.

When I left the cult I gladly threw out all my clothes and began restocking my empty closet finding all the best consignment shops on the Plateau. I think, in an attempt to redefine myself with attire I like (instead of dressing like everyone else or how others expect me to), I began changing myself from the outside.

But God has a different take than me…

Do not be anxious then, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’
“For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Vs 31-34

Rather than focusing on change from the outside in, I give Him control and choose to allow Him to consume me from the inside out.

I choose to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, knowing that He will take care of me.

And as I travel on this journey He will teach me to embrace justice and praise so I might learn to love Him from the inside out.

My heart, my soul, Lord I give you control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
To love You from the inside out
“From the Inside Out” – Hillsong United


I’ve been reading a book I published back in 1998 entitled “Wounded Workers – Recovering from Heartache in the Workplace and the Church” by Kirk Farnsworth. If you’ve read the original post for this blog where I go through the 12 years of abuse, I mention a WinePress author who challenged the doctrine that I’d swallowed…well, that was Kirk!

As I read his book anew, it’s no wonder he tried to reason with me…he could see the writing on the wall just from reading a few of Tim Williams’ writings!

In chapter 3 “Uncovering the Neurotic Organization” I was floored at his description…

In sum, this president drew attention to himself and drew others to himself. He would show off in public and be compassionate in private. His warmth and generosity, however, were self-serving. Both praise and lack of praise were used as a control device. He picked subordinates who would be his friends…who would agree with him and not challenge his impulsive decisions. Criticism was seen as insubordination, and all communication was tightly controlled. When he felt threatened, he could abuse as easily as he could charm. His friendships did not run deep.

Such presidents, in effect, define the organization they lead. They do more than correct this and change that. They do more than refocus the vision and mission, rebuild the infrastructure, and restructure the financial base. They redefine the personality of the entire organization. More specifically, their personality redefines the personality of the organization. This is not at all unusual in Christian organizations…even those that claim to be founded on biblical principles and to be focused on being Christ-centered in all that they do. It is more than a little disconcerting how frequently these organizations seem to be totally dominated by the human personality at the top.

Wounded Workers – page 54

This is exactly what has happened to WinePress…it has become a neurotic organization and Mr. Williams has done a superb job of redefining its personality. But the WinePress website boldly declares how much they claim to be Christ-centered!

Someone said the other day, “WinePress was a great idea that simply got hijacked.” I would have to agree…what was once an organization that served and helped authors and treated them with care and respect is now reduced to a neurotic organization that bites the hand that feeds it.


Roger Petersohn’s sermon on Sunday really touched me. It was all about perspective, and how our focus needs to be on God and enjoying our relationship with Him, rather than on our “to do” and “do not do” lists.

It reminded me of how much my focus was always on my “do not do” list for the last 12 years…the cult had me so zeroed in on my sins and focusing on everything I’ve done wrong or am doing wrong, that my perspective was so far from objective it wasn’t funny. Then, of course, there’s the fact that whatever you focus on is what you’ll increase in your life.  No wonder I made no progress in my longing for righteousness…all I had my eyes on was my sin (my “do not do” list).

Changing my perspective to be focused on the Lord and my relationship with Him has been so refreshing and productive! It’s no wonder that I am growing, once again, and regaining a proper point of view. When I looked up the word perspective in the World English Dictionary, the first two definitions really hit home:

perspective  (pəˈspɛktɪv)
— n
  1. a way of regarding situations, facts, etc., and judging their relative importance.
  2. the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see it; objectivity.

What’s important is loving God, not being so overly consumed with my sin, and all the hoops I think I need to jump through to make sure God keeps loving me. There’s nothing I could do or not do to make Him love me anymore than He does right now. Understanding that one thing should cause a wave of gratefulness to wash over me and motivate me to zero in my thoughts and affections on the loving God I serve.

Help us, O Lord, to judge the relative importance of our “to do” and “do not do” lists…help us have the ability to see clearly and objectively Your great love for us…and to focus on our relationship with You, the lover of our souls. May all that we do, or don’t do, be birthed out of love for You, and You alone.

Undo What I’ve Become

Driving to meet with an author this morning, I heard this chorus on the radio. I remembered back to a time when I was still in the cult and I sang this song as a prayer to God. Little did I know how He would answer that prayer.

Turn me around, pick me up, undo what I’ve become   /   Bring me back to the place of forgiveness and grace   /   I need You, I need Your help, I can’t do this myself   /   You’re the only one who can undo what I’ve become

At the time I had pretty much been demonized to the rest of the “church” so I was very isolated. I felt as though there was no hope for me since I had been unable to repent acceptably. About a year earlier, Tim had called the body to meet at WinePress and he proceeded to call us out one by one (excluding his sons and Malcolm, of course) telling us that if we did not repent, we were going to hell.

Shortly after this event, I’d done something that made Tim Williams mad. If my memory serves me, the rebellion I displayed was that I called Malcolm and asked permission to work on a Saturday after I’d been told not to. So there I was in the middle of Grocery Outlet when I got a call from Tim Williams asking why I asked to work when I’d been told not to…he proceeded to chew me out on my cell phone and that conversation ended in Tim praying God’s judgment upon me.

From that point on, everything seemed to go downhill…I was pretty much booted out of WinePress, not allowed to invite other “church” members over for dinner, and was not allowed to verbally communicate with anyone. It was pretty much as close to being disfellowshipped as possible without actually being so.

I remember hearing this song on the radio and was bewildered with what I had become…a Christian with no joy or hope of heaven…alone…numb.

Now I can look back and see that God did exactly that…he turned me around, picked me up, and undid what I’d become….He brought me back to the place of forgiveness and grace…

Instead of leaving me in that barren land that was full of hate and judgment, He delivered me out of captivity and back to Himself.

I can only praise God for His faithfulness to answer my prayer, even though I expected the answer to look completely different.

Praise God His ways are not my ways!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.

Isaiah 55:8

Dying to the Wrong Things

I visited Point Defiance yesterday and was incredibly refreshed by my time with Copper and God. The name of the park intrigued me, so I looked up the definition of defiance. Here was the most fitting definition on

a daring or bold resistance to authority or to any opposing force.

When I read that I realized that when I walked away from Sound Doctrine on November 10, 2011, I was exemplifying what I will call “holy defiance.” In the Name of Jesus, I made a daring and bold move to resist the false and abusive authority I had lived under for 12 years. Tomorrow will be 5 months since I left and I am growing stronger every day, reclaiming who God created me to be.

I looked back today at the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality book in the chapter entitled “The Top Ten Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality” and saw my highlighting of #3…

Dying to the Wrong Things

As Iraneaus said many centuries ago, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”

True, Jesus did say, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). But when we apply this verse rigidly, without qualification from the rest of Scripture, it leads to the very opposite of what God intends. It results in a narrow, faulty theology that says, “The more miserable you are, the more you suffer, the more God loves you. Disregard your unique personhood; it has no place in God’s kingdom.”

We are to die to the sinful parts of who we are—such as defensiveness, detachment from others, arrogance, stubbornness, hypocrisy, judgmentalism, a lack of vulnerability—as well as the more obvious sins described for us in Scripture: Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Speak the truth (see Exodus 20:13-16 and Ephesians 4:25)

We are not called by God to die to the “good” parts of who we are. God never asked us to die to the healthy desires and pleasures of life— to friendships, joy, art, music, beauty, recreation, laughter, and nature. God plants desires in our hearts so we will nurture and water them. Often these desires and passions are invitations from God, gifts from him. Yet somehow, we feel guilty unwrapping those presents.

When I ask people, “Tell me about your wishes, hopes, and dreams,” they are often speechless.

“Why do you ask?” they respond. “Isn’t my only wish, hope, and dream supposed to be to serve Jesus?”

Not exactly. God never asks us to annihilate the self. We are not to become “non-persons” when we become Christians. The very opposite is true. God intends our deeper, truer self, which he created, to blossom freely as we follow him. God has endowed each of us with certain essential qualities that reflect and express him in a unique way. Part of the sanctification process of the Holy Spirit is to strip away the false constructs we have accumulated and enable our true selves to emerge.

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Pages 27 & 28

In my 12 years in Sound Doctrine we died to all the wrong things, as we all became clones of the leadership. At the same time we supported the full bloom of arrogance, stubbornness, hypocrisy, judgmentalism, and lack of vulnerability.

How ironic, and how deeply troubling.

May God continue to shine His light of Truth on the darkness of Sound Doctrine.

The Confusing In-Between

Every time I attempt to get settled, put roots back down, and move on with my life, God reminds me that I am not in control.

When I found out a few weeks ago that I won’t need to move to Texas to help with my mom (we’re looking for a small group home to move her into) I began to feel very unsettled. I launched a new job search and started looking on craigslist for a small house to rent.

At every turn I get a big “no” from God and that bugs me.

I realized today that this is what Peter Scazzero is referring to when he talks about “waiting in the confusing in-between”. It’s one part of the grieving process and comes after we begin to pay attention to our emotions.

Hmmmmm. Didn’t I just post a little big ago about feeling overwhelmingly sad?

So I guess this is the part that I need to embrace…the confusing in-between.

I hate waiting for subways, buses, airplanes, and people. Like most New Yorkers, I struggle not to finish other people’s sentences. I talk too fast.

My greatest challenge in following Jesus Christ for over thirty years has been waiting on God when things are confusing. I prefer control. I understand why Abraham, after waiting eleven years for God’s promise of a son to come true, took matters in his own hands and had a baby the “natural way.” Birthing Ishmaels is common in both our churches and personal lives. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7) remains one fo the most radical commands of our day. It requires enormous humility.

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – pages 145-146

I keep wondering what I am going to do when I grow up…where I am going to live…what life is going to look like for me…and God is not giving me any hints.

And so I wave the white flag of surrender.

I ask God to give me the strength I need to accept the unknown, to be okay with feeling unsettled, to not have any sort of consistent income, and to be content being a guest in someone else’s home.

That’s tough for a Type A person who enjoys being established and productive.

But it’s where I am, and where I might be for quite some time, so coming to grips with that fact is a struggle. Accepting the confusion of being totally up in the air, disoriented, and disconcerted as part of the grieving process is hard, but I know it will be good for me, and an experience that will increase my trust in the One who delivered me from captivity.

April Fools’ Day

I find it ironic that Tim Williams and Malcolm Fraser chose April 1, 2010 as the “sale” date of WinePress Publishing. Of course, calling it a “sale” in the first place is rather absurd since the company did 3.5 million in business in 2009 and they set the “sale price” at $10. I guess in that way the date was fitting.

All in all, it had taken a little over 12 years for Tim Williams to swindle me out of my publishing company. He saw what he wanted when he contracted for WinePress to publish his book in 1998, and he systematically set out to get control of what was, at that time, the most successful and well-respected Christian self-publishing company in the industry.

I decided to look up the origin of April Fools’ Day and found this interesting piece:

Constantine and Kugel

Another explanation of the origins of April Fools’ Day was provided by Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University. He explained that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.

“In a way,” explained Prof. Boskin, “it was a very serious day. In those times fools were really wise men. It was the role of jesters to put things in perspective with humor.”

This explanation was brought to the public’s attention in an Associated Press article printed by many newspapers in 1983. There was only one catch: Boskin made the whole thing up. It took a couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they’d been victims of an April Fools’ joke themselves.

Tim Williams definitely made a fool of me, just as Boskin made a fool of the Associated Press in the story above, and I’m quite sure the enemy was screeching with glee when the final papers were signed and the transfer of the company was completed. Think about it…no fool in their right mind would sell a multi-million dollar company for $10. And therein lies the truth…I was not in my right mind.

But I guess he didn’t quite expect me to come to my senses and have the courage to finally put a stop to the madness. Kind of like the guy who leaned out the window in the movie Network yelling “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

Now I know what the Bible says…be angry and sin not. And that is exactly what I’ve committed to.

I had to admit I’d been duped and began this blog as a way of telling my story. I have done so out of a deep desire to shine His light on the evil that I allowed to become a part of my life and the lives of many others… an evil that I allowed to grow in credibility in the Christian publishing arena as I used my company and my reputation to give them a voice.

This is the voice that is now proving its true colors for the insanity that it represents. After all, what church do you know of who would leave a pastor in their pastoral position after he has been arrested for child rape, defending him and declaring his innocence? What in the world does that say to the other young girls in the church who may also be victims?

The loss of my company, my marriage, my house, and all my worldly possessions pales in comparison to the loss of a child’s innocence. But the courage it took for this young woman to come forward encourages me to continue telling my story and shining the light on evil…if for nothing else than to warn others of the ways spiritually abusive organizations operate and how to avoid them.

On this two year anniversary of the enemy of our souls stealing WinePress from me, I celebrate the freedom that I now declare and the healing process that I share with all of you.

While they continue to try to make a fool out of me, I choose to allow God to use this tragedy to purify my heart and prepare me for even greater things in the future.