Danger Zone

It took me only 5 minutes to walk to the gym for Zumba class this morning. What a treat! I forgot that this morning was Zumba Mix. Instead of all Columbian dance songs, Christine Offerdahl adds in oldies as well.

All was going fine until “Highway to the Danger Zone” blared over the speakers. Yes, that’s the old “Top Gun” song about flying an incredibly powerful jet, but it had new meaning to me this morning.

Just yesterday I had coffee with Dean Smith (founder of Live to Forgive ministries). He and Jaclyn VanHoof wanted me to give them some feedback on their Bible Study Workbook, so I read through some of it last evening while having dinner.

One of the first things Dean asks the reader to do is:

Important Exercise: Find Your Bob’s (your “Bob” is the person who you need to forgive)

Close your eyes, and picture the faces of the people in your life. Now, when you picture their faces:

• Is there anyone who causes you to feel a little resentment, bitterness, anger, or frustration? Do you find yourself thinking about the harm they have caused you or someone you know?
• Do you feel the need or have the desire to put any of them in their place for the harm they have done to you or someone you love?
• Is there simply someone you know, that without a shadow of a doubt you simply haven’t forgiven them from your heart?

(Live to Forgive Bible Study Workbook page 4)

I had to admit that the first 2 bullet points struck a nerve. Knowing the perverted abuse heaped on my friend’s daughter and my own granddaughter by “pastor” Malcolm Fraser, for him to be “declared innocent” by all Sound Doctrine members and WinePress Publishing employees really invokes in my heart a desire to put him in his place every time I see him walking around town.

Resentment? Yep.
Anger? Yep.
Frustration? Oh yeah.

Especially seeing the Christian media stay quiet about the fact that a cult now owns WinePress and one of the pastors was charged with child rape…the only thing that makes any sense is that the litigious Sound Doctrine/WinePress leaders have threatened to sue, and everyone is either intimidated or just doesn’t want the hassle and attorney fees that will follow exposing the truth about this group.

Interesting that it struck me last night after reading this, that I, once again, needed to forgive them all over again.

Then, right around midnight, I received a Google alert of Sound Doctrine’s post about the trial date being set for November 8, and saw that the Courier Herald posted the information regarding the date, but describing him as “accused of inappropriate sexual contact with an underage girl”.

Really? That sounds a lot less offensive than the truth…He was arrested and charged with Child Rape of a 10 year old girl and was jailed until he was bailed out 48 hours later. I realize my granddaughter has not come forward and told her story (her body language has told it loud and clear) but she was age 6-10 when she lived with the pedophile. I’m sorry but that just makes me want to hurt that guy.

What amazes me is how all the children are being trained by the church to shun anyone who has had the courage to speak out against the evil that has been hidden inside Sound Doctrine. When the victim went to visit my son and saw my granddaughter and grandson (who are still in the cult with their mother) they turned their backs to her and faced the wall, refusing to speak to her or acknowledge her presence. That is just plain wrong..

It’s obvious that the Lord timed the reviewing of this Bible Study on Forgiveness with the trial date being set. I have to remember…

What Forgiveness is NOT:

• Approval of what your Bob did.
• Justifying what your Bob did.
• Excusing what your Bob did.
• Denying what your Bob did.
• Pretending you’re not hurt, masking it, or pushing it down.
• Forgetting what your Bob did.

(Live to Forgive Bible Study Workbook page 6)

If I do not continue to forgive the pedophile and the rest of the leadership at Sound Doctrine/WinePress, then I will be on that highway to the danger zone.

I don’t want to go there.

God help me.

God’s Faithfulness

As I spent the weekend going through pictures of my firstborn to prepare a video montage for his birthday yesterday, I couldn’t help seeing God’s faithfulness through the years, and more importantly in the last six months.

When I walked away from what I thought for 12 years was the truth, but in reality turned out to be a bona fide cult, I had determined that if that was God, then I didn’t want to serve Him anymore. True to His faithfulness, He went to work to convince me that what had been presented to me as God was, in fact, NOT GOD. God set out to prove to me that He can be trusted and that He had been grossly misrepresented.

Not long after I left He intentionally wooed me back to Himself. First in helping me deprogram through a wonderful woman of God, then in bringing me to The Summit where they were starting the first class in the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality study…the week after I stepped foot in the door. Then He provided a place for me to stay while I get my feet back on the ground and start earning a living.

He orchestrated a divine appointment when I visited my Mom and brother in San Antonio, TX which resulted in working with 2 different authors, providing for me the income I needed right at that moment. Then when it seemed as if nothing more was coming and I wrestled with whether I should go out and get a job, He sent me not only another author to work with but a group of authors to represent for a big event later on this month.

The encouraging part of the whole thing is every time I have been down to nothing in my account and I want to talk to someone to get my ducks in a row to earn some income, God won’t let me. I am learning once again how much He wants me to know His faithfulness. If I go out and make things happen, then how will I know whether it is me or Him?

One example in particular was my most recent coaching assignment. The author said they couldn’t move forward until April 30. On April 25 I so wanted to ask her to send everything over to me early and just postdate the check to make sure I’d have it on the 30th….funds were down so low I didn’t have an extra day. The Lord just would not let me do that no matter how much I whined to Him about my need. The very next day, on the 26th, I received an email from the author saying “I just dropped everything in the mail today with a check dated April 30.” Then on top of that, when I emailed her on the 30th to let her know the paperwork had arrived and say thank you, she wrote back explaining what a miracle it was that it arrived that quickly. Normally mail takes a week to reach Seattle from her small town, but this made it in half the time!

Then I started Bible Study Fellowship in the last few months of meetings before they break for the summer. And what are they studying but James, 1st and 2nd Peter and Jude. Hmmmmmm….warnings against false leaders and teachers. How timely!

There are numerous other instances where His ways have built back my trust in Him. In all of this His faithfulness rings true and I marvel at His handiwork.

The song that keeps running through my mind is Kari Jobe’s “You Are For Me”…how true it is, and how grateful I am for such a loving and faithful God!

So faithful, so constant and so true
So powerful in all You do
You fill me, You see me
You know my every move
You love for me to sing to You

I know that You are for me, I know that You are for me
I know that You will never forsake me in my weakness
And I know that You have come now even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are

So patient, so gracious, so merciful and true
So wonderful in all You do
You fill me, You see me
You know my every move
You love for me to sing to You

Lord, I know that You are for me, I know that You are for me
I know that You will never forsake me in my weakness
And I know that You have come now even if to write upon my heart
To remind me of who You are

More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/k/kari_jobe/#share

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.

Neurotic

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.

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.

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/aprilfools1.html

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.