Is it Safe to Come Out?
God continues to amaze.
Weird things are happening at my old church, and I can say the same of my new church. The difference is that the things that are happening at my new church are positive.
I can’t believe how well I fit in. The pastor and his wife are COMPLETELY on board with the Holy Spirit.
Back around 1995, I turned on Fox News for the first time, and I had my usual emotional reaction to listening to the news. I braced myself for a pile of left-wing distortions, omissions, lies, and sneers. But it didn’t come. I thought something was wrong. I figured it was a momentary aberration. But they never returned to “normal.” No matter how many times I watched, I continued to see fair treatment of conservatives.
It felt odd. It didn’t seem right. It seemed like the other shoe was hovering over my head, waiting to drop.
The same thing is happening at my church. It’s freaking me out. I really mean that.
Every so often, I feel a powerful urge to post something about the Holy Spirit, or about the way modern charismatic churches have turned into whorehouses and cults. I’ve been posting stuff like that for quite some time. I’ve gotten used to the knowledge that I could be inviting rebukes or silent disfavor from people in authority, or from those they have succeeded in indoctrinating. I knew I was sealing myself out of the Circle of Trust, as one exiled volunteer put it to me in a moment of levity.
I don’t have that problem any more. If I post something on Facebook about the power of tongues, guess who shows up to “like” it or expand on it? The pastor or his wife! I’m not kidding!
Here’s a video I posted. It’s Glenn Arekion, on Sid Roth’s show, talking about the power of tongues. It’s one of the greatest teachings you will ever see. My pastor’s wife actually REPOSTED it. Can you even try to understand what that meant to me?
In my old church, they actually had a policy about who was allowed to receive or interpret a message in tongues. They apparently thought they could decide whom the Holy Spirit would choose, which is like trying to decide where lightning will strike.
I would guess that the aim was to avoid a scenario in which crazy people ran up and down the aisles gibbering and making things up, but it was not a good solution. After all, the Holy Spirit gives us direction, and like the Bible says, where there is no vision, the people perish.
I’ve come to realize that I was going to a de facto pre-charismatic church. Technically, they were charismatic. They taught that we should be baptized with the Holy Spirit. But they didn’t really believe God would do much for you.
The New Testament tells us the Holy Spirit will enter into us like a virus and grow and reproduce God’s nature in us. We’ll develop the fruit and gifts of the Spirit. We’ll have faith. We’ll work miracles. We’ll be more loving and self-disciplined. My church did not teach that. They admitted that the fruit and gifts existed, but they taught self-help and positive thinking. They said we should try to pray for 15 minutes a day; they didn’t tell us to do a lot of praying in tongues or with our understanding. They spent much, much more time talking about human effort than about God’s power, and like the Bible says, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. In other words, you are going to promote the things you actually care about. In other words, BS walks, etcetera.
There was one area in which they claimed God would move heaven and earth to help you. That was the area of money. If you gave burdensome, unscriptural offerings, God would repay you with giant returns. It hasn’t happened to anyone I know, but they taught it. Where are all the millionaire Christians? Haven’t seen them yet, although the prosperity gospel is over thirty years old. There are millionaires here and there, but the harvest that was predicted does not exist. There should be more millionaires and billionaires.
They taught that we would get “thirtyfold” and “hundredfold” returns on our offerings, but I don’t know one person–not one–who has had that experience. I know people who say giving has resulted in more prosperity, and I would not deny that, provided giving is done correctly, and that it’s not all you do. But let’s do some math so you will understand how far off the doctrine was.
Imagine you get a thirtyfold return on your tithes, and it kicks in on a yearly basis. One year, you give ten percent of your increase. The next year, God gives you thirty times that amount, or three times your original income. Your tithe should go up by a factor of three. The following year, God should give you thirty times three times your original tithe, or nine times your original income. So on the low end of the promise–”thirtyfold”–your income should multiply by three on a yearly basis. At the end of five cycles, you would be looking at three to the fifth power, or 243 times your original income. Before too long, you would own the entire planet.
I don’t know anyone who has seen their income multiply by 243, but I do know people who say they tithe yet have gone broke.
Anyway, it’s extremely odd that a church would tell people to expect God to work financial miracles, when they also tell them they have to help themselves in all other areas. It is suspicious.
The church taught about networking, which says a lot. They taught about things like good posture and exercise. Good stuff to know, I suppose, but it’s not really what the Bible is about. The Bible is about being filled with the presence of a loving, powerful supernatural being that changes you and fixes your problems.
What I’m saying here is that they taught about the Holy Spirit baptism, which makes them charismatic, but they lived like Baptists or Lutherans. They lived like people who had never heard of Azusa Street.
I showed a few people the power of tongues, and it worked for them, but the church never had any interest in it. Funny; those people have left or backed away from the church. The Holy Spirit brings revelation. He shows you problems with bad doctrine. He is the reason people are leaving.
Now I’m at a church where people are as excited about tongues as I am. I just don’t know what to do. I’m beside myself. I feel like I won the lottery. I would have been happy with less worldliness and venality. I never expected to find myself in such agreement with the people above me. I did not think such churches existed.
I feel like I got away from Pharaoh. When God told Moses to tell Pharaoh to let the Jews go, he told him to tell him they had to be released so they could serve God, or be his slaves. It wasn’t just a political liberation. They were under a worldly man who took too much of their time, work, and money. Their primary purpose was to serve God, not a greedy, self-promoting man who exalted himself above God. In moving to a church that respects the Holy Spirit, I feel that I will be free to serve God. The parallel is remarkable, especially since I started going to the new church during the week after Passover.
Obviously, the people who ran my old church were not on the same moral level as Pharaoh.
I could not bless my old church. I tried to write for them, free of charge, and I did good work, and nothing came of it. I cooked for them, and nothing came of it, even though I did such a good job, people begged me to go back. I tried to help fix up their cafe. The tools I brought in ended up gathering dust. I was initially invited to join the pastor’s prayer group, but that fizzled out. If it ever restarted, they did not inform me. I occasionally led a different prayer group, but the man who was in charge of it was fired by the church (his position was eliminated), and the group vanished. I joined the official prayer team, but I saw they were doing things that I had been taught were dangerous, so I quit.
There was nothing I could do to help the leadership. I felt like I was pouring fertilizer into the sewer. And when I gave them advice, the usual response was to reject it and criticize my negativity, or just shine me on. “That’s great, Steve. We love you, bro.” God hasn’t sent them anyone else who can do what I can do. Why would he?
I only succeeded as an Armorbearer. A sort of security guard. That’s nice, and it produced a lot of good fruit, but making me a security guard is like hiring an electrician to compose an opera. God gives people gifts for a reason, and when his blessings flow, people are matched with the jobs God equipped them to do.
I don’t know what I’ll do at the new place, but I know I’ll be able to do the most important thing of which I’m capable. I’ll be able to promote the Holy Ghost. Everything else is peanuts. If I teach someone to pray in tongues, no one is going to come along behind me and say I’m wrong. In fact, I’ll be reinforcing what they already teach. That’s what I would have done at the old church, if I had been able to!
I don’t care about the cooking. A church shouldn’t run a business, anyway. You can’t serve God and Mammon, and you shouldn’t waste people’s tithes subsidizing a failed restaurant. Not when you have other bills you can’t pay. I’ll be using my cooking talents in my home from now on, when I invite friends for prayer meetings. That’s good enough.
When I worked on a kibbutz, I met a man who had starved during the Holocaust. When he worked in the kibbutz kitchen, they had to send people behind him to clean up. He used to hide food in the cabinets. He couldn’t help it. He could not get used to the idea that food would continue to be provided for him.
I feel like that man. I’m so used to being suppressed and disappointed, I feel like I can’t stand up straight and relax. Can I really be in a church that listens to God and moves in his guidance and power? Can it really be that people won’t take advantage of me and say one thing to my face and another behind my back? I can’t get used to that paradigm. I need time to heal, so I won’t transfer the emotions I felt at the old church to the innocent people at the new church. I know they won’t be perfect, but most likely, there are some depths to which they will not sink.
I miss my mom. Every so often, she gave me a piece of wonderful advice. The language was a little harsh, but I’ll repeat it anyway. One day she told me a friend’s ex-husband had bought the friend a new Lincoln Town Car. I asked why he would do that. And she said, “Because not everyone is a son of a bitch.” That really stuck with me. It’s wiser than it sounds.
I would never call anyone at my old church a thing like that. I don’t think they sit around plotting to do evil. But I have always treasured that lesson, and the fundamental idea applies. Every preacher falls short of the glory of God, but they are not all so carnal you can’t deal with them. There are churches where people are treated pretty well. Even on this cursed planet, that is not too much to expect.
I was going to write about something else. Oh, well. Tomorrow.Stumble it! Save This Page