Saturday, July 13, 2013

UNDER CONSTRUCTION



I get mysterious bruises all the time.  I’m a clumsy person.  I run into walls, chairs, tables, counters…if it’s in my path, you name it, I hit it.  Sometimes I’m walking too fast to care.  Or I turn around and BAM it’s right there.  Hiking can be treacherous.  I trip on tree roots, rocks, logs.  I have horrible balance, too.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked,
“Where did that come from?” 
“How did I get that?”

Have you ever gotten a bruise or cut you didn’t know you had because you didn’t feel it when you got it?  Maybe you felt it but you chose to ignore it.  Then later you realized it was there because something else made you look down and notice it.

That’s what I’m going through right now, on an emotional/spiritual level.

I don’t expect you to understand.  I just know I’m here, confused, hurt, and distrustful. 

Why?  Because I’ve realized something: I am not ashamed. 

This time, the mysterious cuts and bruises were not caused by anything I did.  They were caused by so-called spiritual leaders who thought they were doing the right thing but in fact were just covering up the truth with lies and deception to protect their “holy” appearance before their congregation. 

I was smeared with dirt and spit on.
I was refused help and forced out.
I was betrayed and isolated, left for dead.
I was shown no mercy, no love. 
That’s right, Cedar Brook.  I mean you.

Now with the whole lawsuit surrounding SGM/Covenant Life, along with some other concerning things I’ve received as counsel from different sources connected to it, I’m feeling new bruises and seeing old ones come to light.

Both churches have 3 things in common: 

1.      Lies
2.      Deception
3.      Cover ups

As a result, everything I’ve learned is being questioned.  Everything I believe is being scrutinized.  I don’t know what to believe any more, and I don’t know who to trust.  The spiritual leaders I’ve followed so far have done nothing but let me down.  Walls are going up in my heart as I strive to save what little I have left of my faith. 

Let me just put something straight.  I am not losing my faith.  I am not renouncing my faith.  I am questioning what I have learned, DECONSTRUCTING the wrong beliefs I have, and planning on REBUILDING my beliefs when I have regained my trust.

Because that’s the root here.  My trust is broken, severed by the people I thought were supposed to be trustworthy and helpful.  My scars are so deep and my trust is so broken that the walls around my heart are getting bigger and stronger every day.  They want to keep everything that could harm me out.

And maybe that’s what I need right now.  I don’t need outside influences or controversial issues trying to reach in and sway me to their side.  I need peace, I need solitude, and I need God.  I need to be alone with my wounds so I can clean them out, bandage them, and let them heal.     

Letting this pain come to the surface and rear its ugly head has shown me that repression is not healthy.  Denial is not healthy.  Ignoring it is not healthy.  The only way I’m going to heal is by acknowledging what has broken my trust and facing it with the intention of moving past it and healing. 

However, I’m not quite sure how to do that. 
How do I face my pain? 
How do I deconstruct my faith?
How do I rebuild my faith?
How do I trust again?
How do I heal?

It feels so hard to reach, and so far to go until I get there.  Sometimes, it barely feels possible.  But my past still haunts me, and living like this day in and day out is not helping.  The pain isn’t going away and, even if it takes the rest of my life, I am going to focus on pushing forward and healing.

Now, if I could just get out of this cage.             

26 comments:

For Him said...

My heart is greatly concerned over this post and wisdom would dictate that you take it down. I know that you are a relative newcomer to CLC and a very young and unseasoned person in general, so let me educate you. You ask who to trust... WHY? God instructs that you trust those he has placed in authority over you. While our formal relationship with CJ has diverged, he is still a beloved friend to us at CLC and his writing on God's role for pastors comes to mind in cases like yours. I suggest you read and adjust your heart to these truths: http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/blogs/cj-mahaney/post/the-preacher-standing-in-the-stead-of-god.aspx

Now the biased media has been harping on the sex abuse question. Sure, this makes for sensationalized headlines; but the part of the story they are not covering is that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Some have fallen to lusting after the bodies of future adults. Some to listening to music without redemptive themes. Some to gossip and slander. But sin is sin. And Rachel, by joining the chorus of these secular media outlets and of the bitter and attention-seeking commentators on dubious blogs, you are falling into sin yourself.

After reading CJ's blog, you'll understand better why it is not the layperson's role to question the motives behind not revealing the select sins of a few members. At times, God works in mysterious ways and unless you know the serious responsibility that pastors face, you—to be lovingly blunt—have no room to question. Take Grant Layman for example; his character is being so harshly challenged by those who are not in a position to do so, that he must take a sabbatical to keep his eyes on the Lord and not give into the pressures of man.

If a person admits his/her sin, God is faithful and just and forgives those sins. Yet false teachers abound who say those who have stumbled with lust should never be forgiven, should never be given another chance. Sadly molestation and rape has and will be a fact of life; but when those who have undergone such experiences refuse to please God with a heart of forgiveness, then it is clear that their fundamental problem is that they forget that the pits of hell are what they truly deserve and far worse than any suffering we undergo here. For those individuals and for you, Rachel, I exhort you to look to the Book of Job to see a man who truly knew sorrow but stayed faithful to God and the earthly structures He has created. My prayer is that these assignments I have given you will reposition you to the truth. It saddens my heart to think of further steps that may need to be made if this post is not edited or removed to better reflect The Lord's standards.

Shellie said...

@For Him: I do not know who you are, but your comment in itself is quite disturbing. I see nothing wrong with Rachel asking the questions she is asking. How unkind and condescending of you to call her unseasoned with a need for an education by you. You put the position of pastor up on a very high pedastal indeed and yet that is the very thing that Rachel is struggling with because of abuse of power of that position. While a pastor may indeed "stand in the stead of God," he is to be above reproach. In the first example Rachel listed, the leadership was not above reproach. In the case of the lawsuit against CLC/SGM, it also *appears* that leadership *may not* have been above reproach. That has yet to be determined in a court of law, so all are presumed innocent until found guilty.

I do not believe that Rachel is "falling into sin" because she is questioning the integrity of the leadership of CLC. How can one be determined to be "above reproach" if we (the laypeople)never judge the actions (or inactions) of those in a position of spiritual authority over us? Rachel has been genuinely hurt by such trusted leadership. Her pain is very real and raw. You make spiritual authority in our lives sound as though they were given those positions as one might ascend to a throne of kingship. I personally do not believe such a view of pastors is healthy.

You are asking Rachel to "adjust her heart" to the "truth" of what? The post you linked to was not written by CJ, but by Jeff Purswell. I know he is also a pastor at CLC, but you appear to esteem these men as though they are royalty. I absolutely and vehemently disagree that we have "no room to question" those in spiritual authority over us. That's how we end up with cults and leaders like Jim Jones.

Rachel did not say anything about being unforgiving toward those who have stumbled in sin. We all have sinned and I'm positive that Rachel fully recognizes that. I do not know what earthly trials you may or may not have walked through, but your assertation seems to be that those who have been raped or molested should forgive their attacker in order to be pleasing to God. You also seem to assert that they should not also seek justice (otherwise known as consequences)for the crimes that others have inflicted upon them. This is also actually quite disturbing to me.

Finally, your closing statement seems to me to be a thinly veiled threat of some sort of judgement or discipline to be brought against Rachel if she does not "reposition herself to the truth." Who are you? Just how is Rachel's blog (which is simply a written expression of things troubling her mind and heart)not reflective of "the Lord's standards"? Last I heard, there is still something in this country called Freedom of Speech. I am sorry that you were offended by her thoughts, but I cannot see that she has said anything that should cause any action to be taken against her.

For Him said...

The continued, unedited presence of this post has me gravely troubled that you have been corrupted by the attitudes of people in your life like “Shellie.” Oh how this grieves me because what it really boils down to is a lack of faith!

Pertaining to Shellie's human-based reasoning, the Bible is absolutely clear that as God forgives our transgressions, we must forgive those who transgress against us. This has been our policy for members who have confessed to sexual indiscretion with partners of any age—as with any other sin—and will continue for any future members who stumble. Sadly, some such members were punished not just by pastoral correction but by secular law as well because certain individuals did not just let the pastors do their jobs; several though have graciously reentered our community with a spirit of unity. If God could lead Gideon's vastly outnumbered men on to victory, if He could transform a drug addicted CJ (he went by Charles in those days) into one of this century's greatest leaders, then he can guide any sexually promiscuous heart back towards righteousness. My certainty in this transformative power is exactly why I am reaching out to my sister Rachel now.

There is another important reason I am here: because blogs like this and because people lacking in faith are what have caused so much unneeded strife in CLC and SGM in the first place. It is why we must scan the internet to defend against further toxic assaults. While I am saddened by those who have negatively influenced Rachel, for Shellie to assert that I am criticizing Rachel for having a troubled heart is erroneous. I criticize not that she is troubled (though looking at her influences may provide us with greater insight into her life) but how she is going about it. Rachel is relying on her own understanding rather than operating within the God-given structures to sort out such matters.

One structure is the ever-threatened gift of marriage. In His wisdom, God has gifted one half of sacred couples with a stalwart and firm mind to countervail the impulsive feminine half. By speculating on blogs rather than turning to the man God has given her, two processes are occurring. 1. the competence and leadership of her husband is being opened to criticism and 2. the church leaders are not given the respect which God desires.

These men preach sound doctrine—that is the fruit which marks a good tree! We are blessed with some of the most talented pastors who have ever lived, but you are correct that they are not infallible. Ask any one of them and they will assure you that they are the worst sinner that they know—truly a humble bunch! Venomous blog posts have caused these tireless men so much turmoil, turmoil that could have been avoided should God's structure have been followed. If a woman is disquieted, she consults her husband; if both spouses are concerned, the care group leader stands ready; in rare cases where cg leaders cannot give a calming answer, then a pastor can make himself available. But imagine how much stress and focus away from more important matters would be needed if the pastors were expected to assuage every doubt and launch investigations over every sin!

Even a half-competent appreciator of American History will recall that, during our Revolution, many of Washington's men questioned, doubted, and fled during the harsh winters. Times were tough, but those who persevered proved victorious. Now is the time to look at ourselves and ask: will we run, betray, or criticize our humble generals during this hostile winter or will we subdue our doubts and stay in our ranks which will lead us to victory? Rachel, I ask you: will you heed the call to fall back into order?

For Him said...

To better understand how God's system works, I refer you to The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (on which Josh, CJ, and Jeff are honored to serve).

http://cbmw.org/core-beliefs/

Public airing of what a woman should privately take to her husband violates Rationale 3. Affirmation 4-1 indicates that one who rejects the system in this way is falling into the sin of Usurpation, which tempts her husband towards that of Passivity.

Anonymous said...

There is so much that needs a strong, reasoned response @for Him it's hard to know where to begin. Let's just start by saying his comments are dripping with self-righteousness, pride, arrogance, and judgmentalism. @for Him must believe that he knows what is in Rachel's heart including everything about her past and present life, her struggles, fears, and even her faith. He must think he is God. The list that follows are the wrong-headed thinking evidenced by the comments that were made and my response to address that thinking.

1. "corrupted by the attitudes of people in your life" - this presupposes an omniscience about all the people and their attitudes that influenced someone's life. How could anyone know fully and completely unless he was a "fly on the wall" during the person's whole life? What an arrogant statement!

2. "forgiveness of those who transgress against us" coupled with "this has been our policy for members who have confessed to sexual indiscretion with partners of any age (future adults) - as with any other sin - and will continue for future members who stumble" Making light of sexual indiscretion involving a CHILD (euphemistically called a future adult) is not the same as any other sin. It causes damage to the very spirit and soul of the child who can be wounded for life. Men who do those things deserve the hottest fires of hell! Can you imagine the scene in the pastor's study with the molested child being told to forgive the evil one or else be displeasing to God. Here the child victim is victimized again by being held to a standard of forgiveness that is difficult for adults, much less a child. That in itself is child abuse. When does the child stop being the victim? Where is compassion for the child? Anyone who would put a child in that position is thinking not of the child but only of the evil molester to assuage and cover over a horrendous crime. A person who writes such a thing identifies so closely with the molester that the reader is left to wonder if the writer was a molester himself.

3. "sadly, some such members were punished not just by pastoral correction but by secular law as well because certain individuals did not just let the pastors do their jobs..." Apparently @him hasn't learned that secular law has its place in our society and its place is to judge and punish lawbreakers. By the way, child molestation is breaking the law. The idea of pastoral correction alone being sufficient in our society to handle child molesters is not only wrong, it's dangerous. It seems these churchmen have set themselves up in the likeness of Moses and the Mosaic Law and have become the judge of the people forgetting that God instituted secular governments as well. No, the idea of pastoral correction is nothing but a means of covering up crimes to escape the consequences that would be delivered under the law. It comes under the heading of "aiding and abetting."

4. "transforming a drug-addicted CJ into one of this century's greatest leaders..." Who is CJ? One of this century's greatest leaders??? I've never heard of him. Again, pride and arrogance on display for all to read.

5. "rather than operating within the God-given structure to sort out such matters." This can be 'translated' to mean "we churchmen are God's gift to you and you would do well to listen and obey because we can make your life miserable if you don't. We should be involved in every aspect of your life, telling you even what to think because no one else could possibly have the wisdom that we have." God-given shepherds are one thing but shepherds who abuse their power and authority are not following in imitation of the Good Shepherd.

Anonymous said...

6. marriage - "one-half of sacred couples with a stalwart and firm mind to countervail the impulsive feminine half." Such generalization and condescension towards women! My sympathies go out to the woman married to such an egotistical, arrogant husband. That attitude is certainly not in line with God's love for His bride and His willingness to love her and die for her. The writer who thinks so negatively of women is showing that he cares only for himself and regards his wife as mere brainless property.

7. "sound doctrine" - "is fruit which makes a good tree." Please cite in the list of "Fruit of the Spirit" where sound doctrine is mentioned.

8. "even a half-competent appreciation of American History..." Who are you saying is "half-competent" of American History? Oh wait, great master, we should all sit at your feet and learn from you since everyone else is half-competent! Pride, arrogance dripping, no, flowing like a raging river from your words!

9. "our humble generals" Not knowing if you are one of the "humble generals" or simply coming to their defense, all that remains to be seen is that from everything you have written, humility is no where to be found.

10. If persons advocating your opinions were in the leadership of my church or even in the majority of laypersons, you can be sure I'd no longer be in attendance there. What was presented as being taught in your church is nothing more than cultist teaching. All who have been blinded into slavish obedience should come out of her and never look back. Your brand of Christianity? - no thanks!

Anonymous said...

One more comment made by @for him raises red flags and brings a lack of spiritual discernment to the forefront. -----"if He could transform a drug addicted CJ (he went by Charles in those days) into one of this century's greatest leaders, then he can guide any sexually promiscuous heart back towards righteousness. My certainty in this transformative power..." ----Really??? - When you say, "sexually promiscuous heart" may I remind you that there was more than a sexually promiscuous heart involved. It was more than lustful fantasies. James 1:15 tells us that "after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." The molestation of a child happens when the desire has manifested itself in sinful action which, forgetting about the molester, brings death to the innocence of the child. God's justice will prevail. God grants mercy and forgiveness, of course, but God's justice requires consequences for sin. Just saying "I'm sorry" and having a pastor cover it up is not consequences, it lacks the serious recognition of the violation of the victim. Nevertheless, God will not be mocked and His justice will prevail.

Another comment (among many) raises serious questions about the wisdom of @for him. --"Oh how this grieves me because what it really boils down to is a lack of faith!" -- It appears that @for him is speaking of faith in pastoral leadership, i.e., faith in man. God's Word tells us to have faith in Him alone because men fail and cannot be trusted to give wise counsel or direction in all situations, especially when they are at the center of the storm and their objectivity is compromised.

Finally, another disturbing comment was this one: "There is another important reason I am here: because blogs like this and because people lacking in faith are what have caused so much unneeded strife in CLC and SGM in the first place." No, what caused so much unneeded strife in the first place was the sin of the pastoral leadership! Blaming the sheep for the sins of the shepherd indicates a hardened heart that has not yet been humbled or is not yet willing to acknowledge the shepherd's (s') sin. The whole impact of @for him's statements reveals an unwillingness to repent and confess, still maintaining the typical response of a molester that it was someone else's fault. This person uses the platform of God's Word simply to promote himself and his perversions. Sick!


Shellie said...

@For Him: I have to say that your comments toward me are exceedingly condescending and unkind. You do not know me and you make extremely presumptuous statements about who and what you think I am. Thank God that my influence in Rachel's life is much more far-reaching than yours.

Rather than encouraging Rachel to turn to put her trust blindly in your "structure" of pastoral leadership without any question, I would encourage her to seek to learn to trust more in God Himself. This is the crux of her struggle, but you have turned these comments into your own personal crusade to scour and scrub the Internet of any comment that might possibly cast a shadow on your leadership. You seek to silence her, but you have not provided Rachel with any insight into the heart of her struggles and concerns. You took her comments and ran in a tangent that did nothing but call names at Rachel (unseasoned and troubled) and at myself (negative influence and corruptive). You have asserted that both Rachel and myself have little to no faith. Does scripture not exhort us as Christians to "encourage one another and build each other up"? Do you not see that in your attempt to keep your CLC leadership on a pedestal that you are engaging in tearing down both Rachel and myself? 

Why do you not seek to offer Rachel insight, encouragement, and comfort in regard to the expression of her painful experiences with pastoral leadership? Rather than rebuking her for questioning, why do you not encourage her to redirect her gaze not to fallen, sinful pastors, but to God Almighty Himself? He is the only perfect, the only wise God. He is THE ONLY one Rachel can and should trust in the way of blind faith that you claim she should also give to pastors. How can she possibly trust, with blind faith, fallen men; some of whom acted in such a way as to rip the fabric of her family in two? You are telling her to place her hope and trust in "God-given structures" rather than in her loving, all-powerful Creator.

Shellie said...

As for her turning to her husband, what knowledge do you possess that she has not already brought her concerns to him? How do you know that he might not also share her concerns? As for your statement and men have "stalwart and firm minds to countervail the IMPULSIVE FEMININE HALF", my own husband finds that to be exceedingly demeaning toward women. He was appalled that you would assign such chauvinistic designations to men and women. You do not speak for all men and thankfully so. Referring Rachel to a set of "rules" under which you claim Christian men and women should function strikes me as quite legalistic. What was written by the cbmw, while seemingly honorable on the surface, is also not divinely inspired by God. It seems to be highly subjective once one might try to live by these "rules" and seems also to put women in a disadvantaged position at the mercy of men who may or may not be consumed with a sinful love of power. Again I ask, why not rather direct Rachel to place her heart in the hands of her LORD, her Savior, and her God?

Your exhortation to Rachel to "fall back into order" is quite troubling. This type of comment strikes me as the whispers of the father of lies, to feed us enough truth for us to be dissuaded from using the intelligence God gave us for discerning whether or not something is from God. For the current questions of her heart, she should employ all her intelligence, and seek the Lord's guidance and direction with all her heart. The integrity of pastoral leadership is not and should not be exempt from scrutiny. The sad truth is that while pastors SHOULD be above reproach and SHOULD live their lives with the highest standards so as to honor and glorify God, they very often do not. We, the laypeople, expect that our spiritual leaders should be more holy, more righteous, more like God because they have taken on the mantle of being a mouthpiece for the gospel of Christ. But, very often, these men do not conduct their lives in perfectly upright fashion. In so doing, they not only dishonor the Lord, but also can cause others of us to stumble, falter, or turn away from faith in God altogether. THIS is the heart of the reason for Rachel's original post. She need not "fall back into order", but should seek from God the healing her bruised and broken heart craves.

For Him said...

I confess to Shellie, Anonymous, Rachel, and any other readers that I too was once troubled by some of the truths which are difficult to understand in Christianity... so I understand your initial reluctance to accept them for yourselves. Sometimes the truth is hard, but faith is not easy. I, however, am trying to relay it as graciously as possible and am being attacked despite my care. For example, Shellie challenges my question about Rachel turning to her husband. Well I was giving them the benefit of the doubt and hoping that all of this could be cleared up with a loving conversation between Rachel and her husband. I did not want to assume that she already had and that he was unable to reaffirm God's truths in her life. Her husband comes from one of the most respected families in the church and a failure on his part to quell her doubting spirit could reflect poorly on all of them, as well as on her care group leader and his in-laws.

My heart is with all of those who are struggling right now, so I am sensing the Spirit wanting me to share some of the teachings that helped me to accept what is hard. From man-based logic, yes, it is disquieting to accept that those who have fallen into sexual contact with children should be forgiven. But keep these two wise insights in mind before you completely close your heart to forgiveness and God's transformative power.
1. One of our former pastors said it well when he encouraged a person close to both the giver and the receiver of inappropriate physicality to think of the giver not as a pervert who obsesses over children, but as one who is tempted by the womanly figure which that child was soon to grow into.
2. CJ gives us a gospel-centered perspective on the concept of victimhood in one of his most piercing (and funniest!) sermons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0aO8UCjVDE The worldly view is based on the cult of psychotherapy which you seem to be influenced by (by the way, on what grounds can you claim CLC/SGM is a cult?! Look up a definition and you will see that there are no similarities—we don't all dress the same, mindlessly chant, grow long hair, etc.). This view claims that past wrongs leave scars and empties our “love cup,” but as CJ brilliantly tells us, this is nonsense and most unhelpful. Man wants to feel loved and important, so we do things like write blogs to try to find those feelings. God wants us to know we are wicked and deserving of His wrath and only when we totally surrender to Him and His earthly representatives do we truly accept the truth of divine grace. There is no love cup in the Bible! I say this in a spirit of love, much like a parent needing to spank a child even though the child only feels pain and not the true love of correction. Please if you do one thing today, listen to CJ impart God's perspective in this video. Oh he is such a better teacher than I!

Another truth that greatly eased my past doubts as an unseasoned Christian was the one captured in our church's easy to remember saying: What you feel vs. What is real. Feelings come and go, so we can't trust them. One minute we feel tired, another joyful, and another lustful. Shellie, Anonymous, and Rachel, I'm hearing a lot of feelings listed: doubt, being condescended against, skepticism over our pastors, gender sameness (God's word tells us that both genders are equal, but simply have different functions), anger towards those struggling with certain sins, unforgiveness, and so on. Now those feelings are part of living in this fallen world and I've felt many of the same ones. But we need to move beyond the limitations of our human bodies and adopt an eternal perspective. Next time you find yourselves thinking the thoughts similar to what you've posted, ask yourselves: “Is this what I feel or is this Real?”

The confusion that you all are undergoing is a tragic when compared to the peace we can find in knowing God through the local church. I will pray fervently as you seek clarity. Blessings to you all.

Rachel said...

I just want to say that I have not been sitting idling by letting Anonymous and Shellie speak for me. Their counsel and points have helped me to read between the lines of your “thinly veiled threats,” For Him. I am disgusted at what they have gleaned from your comments. Here are my own thoughts:

•I will not make any edits or changes to my blog post. My blog is a reflection of my personal thoughts and to make changes to fit someone else’s mold is akin to hiding behind false appearances. I am not going to live a double life again, as that would be dishonoring to the Lord, who set me free from that sinful lifestyle 7 years ago.

•I am deeply concerned by your twisted viewpoints, which have all been analyzed by previous commenters who understand who I am and how my past affects my present. Your mindset strays so far from my personal convictions that I cannot, in my right mind or good conscience, follow your suggestions, comply with your requests, or complete any of your “assignments.” Whatever “order” you want to me to fall back into, I cannot do so, as I was never in order to begin with. I am already convinced of my position and will not be swayed.

•If you are a pastor or in any staff position at CLC like you insinuate you are, I must admit I am fearful for the integrity of the leadership of that church. What you have demonstrated here on my personal blog is undoubtedly something of which I wish to have no part. If your focus is to silence the nay-sayers, elevate pastors to an unhealthy level in the eyes of the congregation, and mold your congregants into perfect little followers who aren’t allowed to think for themselves, I have every right, every GOD-GIVEN RIGHT, to question you and your leadership.

•Your attempts to reach out to me have shown me that my balanced views of CLC are good, necessary, and right. I chose to hear from the SGM Survivors because I identified with them and wanted to hear both sides of the lawsuit. In so doing, my mind is open to the fact that something does not sit well in Covenant Life Church. Because of this, I seriously doubt I will receive any spiritual benefits from the messages or teachings, especially since it is obvious that my healing is not one of your priorities. You’ve shown no genuine care or concern for my individual soul. You only express the desire to see me silenced and brought back into order to fit CLC’s mold. If this is where you really stand, you cannot possibly care for me or my soul in an understanding or personal way, nor would I trust you to do so.

•I have already brought my concerns to my husband, and he has spoken to our care group leader. Their discussion did not serve to “quell [my] doubting spirit,” for which I am thankful. I am convinced now more than ever that any compliance you are hoping he could invoke in me would be detrimental to my spiritual health. That is all that I am going to say about that matter.

•“One of our former pastors said it well when he encouraged a person close to both the giver and the receiver of inappropriate physicality to think of the giver not as a pervert who obsesses over children, but as one who is tempted by the womanly figure which that child was soon to grow into.”
A former pastor said this…let me ask you this: if you were the parent of a child who was sexually abused, would you feel better hearing that the pervert was not obsessed with children, but was tempted by the womanly figure your daughter would later grow into? Knowing that the pervert (which is exactly what he is, deep in his heart) is tempted by ANY female at ANY age is cause for considerable concern! How can you downplay a sexual attack like this? You should be outraged and cry for him to be brought to justice! Secular authority was instituted by God and should be used to bring criminals like sexual predators to justice, as they deserve! God is a just God and cannot stand to see little children, which are created in His image and dear and precious to Him, be made to suffer while their attackers go free!

Rachel said...

•“CJ gives us a gospel-centered perspective on the concept of victimhood in one of his most piercing (and funniest!) sermons” – stop right there. I see so many things wrong with this sentence it’s not even funny. You would describe a sermon on ‘victimhood’ as one of the ‘funniest’ sermons?? There is nothing funny about being a victim! I will not listen to CJ’s perspective on anything ever again.

•“By the way, on what grounds can you claim CLC/SGM is a cult?! Look up a definition and you will see that there are no similarities—we don't all dress the same, mindlessly chant, grow long hair, etc.” I’m sorry, but this made me laugh. You think that dressing the same, chanting mindlessly, and growing your hair long are the true characteristics of a cult?? External appearances alone are not an acceptable way of identifying a cult. I’ve actually done research and have a list of characteristics that pierce to the internal workings of a cult, and many of them match things I’ve witnessed in CLC. I’m not saying CLC IS a cult, but it has several concerning similarities.

•“only when we totally surrender to Him and His earthly representatives do we truly accept the truth of divine grace” – Surrendering to His earthly representatives? I surrender only to God and His word for divine grace. I will follow them as the shepherds God commands them to be, but I will not surrender to them as I would to God. Only He gets my full surrendering.

•“What I feel vs What is real” – What I feel IS real. Real pain. Real betrayal. Real confusion. Real concern. The Spirit within me has raised red flags when I’ve heard something that wasn’t quite right before, and He is doing the same thing with this situation. God gave us feelings, not to be controlled by them, but to point us toward His likeness and to be prompted to avoid things that are not good for us. And I believe that CLC is one of those things I should avoid.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Rachel. You covered most of what I intended to say but I will add a few more comments as there is so much wrong with @for him's thinking.

1. @for him seems confused about the concept of forgiveness. Forgiveness for any sinner is appropriate; however, forgiveness without consequences for the sinner is not appropriate. If someone murdered @for him's child, could the murderer say, "Please forgive me," and then go on his merry way? Would @for him be satisfied with that? Wouldn't the parent cry out for justice?

2. @for him mentioned the "cult of psychotherapy" and CJ in his utube video ranted against it but how ironic that CJ's sermon presented his own prescription of psychotherapy. ---Same horse, just a different color.

3. The psychotherapy espoused by CJ says that anyone who thinks that "past wrongs leave scars" is believing in "nonsense". Apparently he has never felt the pain of past wrongs. He says "man wants to feel loved and important, God wants us to know we are wicked and deserving of His wrath." See how he mixed a grain of truth with a lie? Yes, we deserve God's wrath but over and over God tells us how much He loves us and values us: so much so that He gave His one and only Son. John reveals God's love for us when he said, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." John encourages believers to love God and our brother. There was quite a bit of laughter about a hypothetical "love cup" being "nonsense". Yet, when Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, He promised to fill her with living water so she would never thirst again. Jesus fills us with His Holy Spirit and His love.

4. The motto "What you feel vs. What is real" seems to say that feelings are not real and they should be denied. Just how does a living, breathing human being deny feelings? Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." Your motto would have us leave out loving God with our heart (implying feelings and emotions) since feelings are not real.

It was quite an eye-opener having the curtain pulled away to reveal the beliefs espoused by @for him. What was revealed is a cultist-type organization where the leaders set themselves above their congregation, "lording it over them" and attempting to use mind-control techniques, threats, and bullying to keep them in line and control all aspects of their devotees'lives. Perhaps the sexual crimes were God's way of alerting people to the dangers of this false teaching and to persuade people to remove themselves from such leadership.

Daniel Payne said...

There is far too much material for me to know where to start, so I will simply begin with this:

Rachel is my beloved wife.
More than that, she is my best friend. I care about her more than every person on this planet put together.

I am honored to be her husband, to love, lead and care for her.

Our care group, led by Andrew Leyva (a respectable Christian brother and a true friend) has been studying the book of Ephesians in the past year, and when we covered Ephesians 5, we discussed the wife's call to submit (as biblically defined) to her husband, and the husband's call to love the wife "As Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Eph 5:25).

Every time this or other related passages has been preached upon, every time I have read it, every time I have reflected upon my relationship with Rachel, I remember my biblical calling to love her. Modern culture riles against the "wife submission" doctrine while completely ignoring the husband's calling... Some churches focus too much on the wife's submission aspect of the passage in the other direction. But I've noticed that the passage on the husband's call is the longer section, with arguably the "higher," more difficult calling: Die for his bride as Jesus did.

Loving Rachel is my spiritual calling before God. And while I don't consider myself to be sufficient to the task, I will live my life loving her and showing God's love to her as best I can.

Rachel has a lot of struggles going on right now, and I am trying to love her by hearing her out and accepting her in the midst of trials and even disagreements. As she mentioned, we have had loving conversations about this very topic, and we will continue to discuss these things. I don't expect her to immediately feel better, or to push past her doubts without struggle, or to even agree with me. She's a real person, and I have had the privilege of helping her work through her struggles in the past. Those struggles don't make me love her any less.

So, no, I have not "quelled" Rachel's doubts. I am trying to love her where she is, by listening to her, seriously considering her perspective, praying together, and going to people I trust and respect for advice and prayer. I am praying God helps her trust (the right people) and does not shut herself off from everyone, but I will not demand it of her immediately. Trust takes time, and it would not be loving of me to demand from her in this way. If this reflects poorly on me, my family, or our care group, that is all right with me, because Rachel knows my love is genuine, even if it is inadequate or faulty.

Daniel Payne said...

@ForHim, I can appreciate your desire to fight against the smear campaigns that various bloggers have launched against CLC & SGM. I will even admit that I am wholly unimpressed with the SGM Survivors blog, as what I have read from there leads me to think that a majority of the persons who interact on there are not so much interested in challenging churches to improve, but to find pity from other disaffected persons who forever see themselves as victims and who think that the CLC of 2013 is exactly as it was 10, 20 years ago.

That said, while you claim that you are trying to care for my wife, everything you have said has smacked of insult, presumption, and even a lightly veiled threat. If you are actually trying to help, your tone is completely sabotaging your attempt, and arguably betrays underlying arrogance and a belief that church structures demand my wife keep herself quiet. Regardless, it is legitimately leading Rachel, myself and her family to think that you are trying to squelch what she has to say, and I am not going to tolerate that.

I know that Don Nalle, head of Communications at CLC was looking for people to do blogging/social media work for him on a volunteer basis--I even talked to him about doing that myself, although he still needs to get back to me about it. I really hope you are not representing that initiative, because as Rachel mentioned, it would reflect very poorly on the leadership of this church that I have loved being a part of my whole life.

That's why I'm taking the time to respond to this mess of comments. And not under some pseudonym, but under my actual name. Because I don't hide behind anonymity on the Internet, as countless opinionated people do.

@ForHim, if you truly care about my wife, then posting unhelpful (outrageous, really) comments is NOT the way to do it. You don't really know Rachel, and even if your tone were better, I doubt you could reach her because you haven't shown a personal care and love for her. That's what Jesus did--he let little kids climb all over him, crowds continually follow him as he vanquished illnesses for individual people he talked to, and he spent time in the company of tax collectors and sinners in order to really care for them, even though it made him look bad.

If you really care about my wife's well-being, why did you not try to get in touch with my parents, David & Susan Payne? You seem to be familiar with them, at least.

If you're serious about helping, then talk to me. I'd be willing to talk over the phone, or even meet in person. You can reach me at 240-543-4221.

And you can be sure that I will be getting in touch with Don Nalle again, to find out if this is part of that communications initiative or not.

David Payne said...

from David Payne--
I would like to commend everyone who has responded to "For Him," and for writing reasoned responses to his evident lack of compassion. I also commend Daniel for his restraint in the face of an attack on his wife! However, I suspect that our "For Him" friend is not who he presents himself to be, but is rather someone who is skilled in the creative use of sarcasm. Come clean, "For Him"! Show us who you really are!

For Him said...

To Daniel,

Let me begin by saying that, usually, when a person decides to read the survivors blog and other such smear campaigns, it is due to the sinful desire to relish in slander. However, you have revealed a discerning mind in understanding that most people who make the choice to blog are, as you so piercingly put it, pity-seeking malcontents who parade under the flag of victimhood and only look at the past.

With you understanding the nature of most bloggers, I hope you see how it appeared to me that your wife was simply adding herself to this bothersome chorus. Like you, I grow tired of this “enlightened” culture which assaults Biblical gender roles. I agree that the call for wives to submit to a husband's loving leadership can, at times, be overstated. I think CJ said it best at one of our men's conferences where he taught that these calls say much about our hearts. He challenged us with the example of he and Carolyn where she was in pain and to undergo hip surgery the next day; CJ felt called to bond in sexual union that night and because of the closeness of their bond, Carolyn agreed despite some pain. So many men, however, neglect to find anywhere near as close of a union as CJ has with his wife.

Therefore, I hope you can also see, in the context of this degraded culture in which we live, why I would take a tough stand against someone who was publicly making statements about the church that I too so very much love... especially when her blog posts seemed devoid of leadership from her husband and caregroup leader. I have never seen as much persecution against God's people as I have in this current assault against CLC and SGM. Like the parable of the good shepherd, it is my heart's desire is to go to whatever measures necessary to keep a sheep from leaving our flock.

I believe CLC to still be the unwavering church which you and I have always loved. At first it disturbed me when some in leadership positions (please note, this is not slander—read carefully) decided to take a softer, more “politically correct” approach to things. Then I realized that it was the relentless muckraking of bitter ex-members who forced this on us. Technology has helped us to spread the gospel in many ways, but it truly is a double-edged sword as it now opens every one of our decisions up to uncharitable judgments by any disgruntled person who wants to whip up a blog. And anyone with half a brain knows how eager the media is to defame God's work with their secular distortions.

This heightened level of public scrutiny doesn't mean we don't show our fangs when we need to though. Oh! I thought it was oh so brilliant when we and our SGM brothers almost succeeded in having the entire court case thrown out by invoking the First Amendment. Whatever our method of dealing with members who have fallen into sexual sin, it is not the state's role to tell us how to do so! However, I am convinced even the official statement (which I trust you've read) to be too soft. Those who won out on the softness debate undermined our cause with the claim that none of the abuse had ever taken place on church property or with church staff; we then looked questionable when we were no longer able to keep the Nathan Morales situation within the church family. I believe, that to avoid further contradictions, we must stand firm on our long-standing positions, despite what this culture and even what liberal churches might call for.

Fortunately, our leadership has, for the most part, provided a strong example. Unlike the pity-wallowing bloggers, Josh waited only until it was a dire necessity to reveal that he had been sexually abused. For those commentators on here who harp on sexual sin being worse than others, look at Joshua Harris: he has risen to the top of the Christian ministry, has written some of the most insightful books I have ever read, and he did not let a few instances from his past hinder his ascent. He moved on instead of berating everyone with sob stories from his past.

Shellie said...

@For Him: You continue to use your language to try to beat Rachel into submission to your twisted way of thinking. Why do you consider it "sinful desire to relish in slander" for someone to want to hear the other side of the story rather than just the side sanctioned by the church? You look at those who have suffered painful experiences and call them "pity-seeking malcontents." Your lack of compassion is utterly astounding. Do you truly think Jesus looks on you and your attitude with pleasure? There are things that people go through in this life that are hard to overcome, some things moreso than others. I truly do not imagine Jesus taking on the "just get over it" position that you have adopted. Jesus is patient with us and is full of compassion. He forces nothing upon us. Your position is nothing but salt in a wound.


You call Rachel's blog an additional voice to a "bothersome chorus." Again, your words are cutting and so unkind. Then, you go on to give an example of CJ's sexual conquests of his wife. However, your example proves exactly the opposite of what you seemingly intended. You said that "the call for wives to submit to a husband's loving leadership can, at times, be overstated." At that point, you go on to give an example where a woman was in physical bodily pain and yet her husband was so unsympathetic to that and so focused on his own physical pleasure that he persuaded his wife to submit to his desires regardless of how she felt. That example just illustrates further the way that your mind has twisted and perverted things of a sexual nature. Hers is a picture of loving submission, while his is an example of greedy lust and power over his wife. And yet, you elevate and celebrate that as if it were something to aspire to. That is sickness.


Your comment, "it is my heart's desire to go to whatever measures necessary to keep a sheep from leaving our flock" smacks so strongly of cultism it's not even funny. And you question how someone could begin to think that CLC/SGM has some cultish tendencies? So, from your comment, I also take it that you see nothing wrong with verbally beating Rachel to a bloody pulp to keep her from leaving the church. Why would you even WANT her to stay if she is struggling to maintain the mindset you believe is so incredibly holy and pure? You just want her to sit down, shut up, and fall in line with the rest of the voiceless sheep that you seem to believe make up the congregation of that church. Shame on you. And the fact that you also say, "This heightened level of public scrutiny doesn't mean we don't show our fangs when we need to though." You show your fangs to the flock you claim to love so dearly? Really? I truly do not believe you would get a nod of approval from Jesus on that. You are willing to bite, rip, and tear at Rachel. Does the bible give the example of a shepherd showing his fangs to his sheep to keep them in line? No. To the contrary, it says that a good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. If one is lost, he leaves the 99 and goes to search out and TENDERLY bring the lost sheep back to the fold. It is exactly your method of ripping and tearing at Rachel that causes people to look at Christianity and determine that "if that's what Christians are like, I don't want any part of that." You are a living, breathing, walking example of why people walk away from the precious true gospel message of Christ.

Shellie said...

You are just simply dead wrong when you say "whatever our method of dealing with members who have fallen into sexual sin, it is not the state's role to tell us how to do so!" Oh my word!! It most certainly IS the role of the state to deal with those who have committed sexual CRIMES against other people!! Your logic would also dictate that it is not the state's role to tell the church how to deal with members who have committed murder! Government is an institution ordained by God. It absolutely IS the role of government to deal with those who commit sins/transgressions/crimes against others. It is NOT the role of the church to bring those transgressors to justice. And before you go and run off that I am saying that one sin is greater than another or that I am saying that there should be no forgiveness for the perpetrator, take a breath and try to open your ears. If it were not the role of government to deal with such issues, there would be no need for God to have instituted it in the first place. God knows the lawlessness of our hearts. He is a God of justice and as much as He desires to forgive, He also allows for there to be natural consequences and punishments for our actions here on earth, to be carried out by those in authority over us. Jesus is the perfect example of this. Jesus was put to death (although He was perfect and completely UNdeserving)for His "crime" of blasphemy. Before whom did He appear? He appeared before the government officials of the Roman Empire. The government of our nation is not a theocracy in which the church would have the responsibility for such things. We have a civil authority over us and it is instituted by God Himself. When we commit crimes against others, we are to be held accountable before those civil authorities, not the pastors of a church.


And, in your last paragraph, you resort to name-calling again and attempt to demean and berate people who have suffered terrible wrongs. People who blog about their painful experiences are not simply nameless, faceless, "pity-wallowing bloggers." They are real people, with real lives, and hearts and experiences. They have suffered tremendous pain and you, instead of extending the loving, healing hand of Christ, move to slap and beat them down. Your lack of compassion is beyond words. When my older children were little, I made it a point to try to teach them to love the unlovely, and the brokenhearted because Jesus loves those people just as much as He loves you and me. I purposefully teach my children not to call others names or look down on others because of things they cannot control. It's a terrible shame that your mother did not bother to give you some rudimentary lessons in that same vein. You are sorely lacking the ability to love others the way Jesus does.

Shellie said...

Your slap at "those commentators on here who harp on sexual sin being worse than others" could not be further from the truth. No one here has said that those sins are WORSE than others, but that they are in and of themselves terrible and abhorrent. Yes, sin is sin in the eyes of God and no sin is necessarily greater than another because we all fall short. But, you seem so intent on defending those who molest children that it causes me to wonder if that is something you are presently engaged in yourself. You bend over backwards to try to make the victims of such crimes bear the responsibility for soothing and comforting the perverted wretches who prey upon others. Is this a struggle that you are currently dealing with in your life? You seem to think that it is as socially acceptable to prey upon, molest or rape a child as it is to lie or steal a candy bar from a gas station. The only justice that should be exacted is that the perpetrator should say "sorry" and the victim should bear the burden of forgiveness. This is just not right. You say that those who have been injured in this way should keep their "sob stories" to themselves. Your heart is unbelievably callous.

I don't believe that Jesus Himself was as flippant about harming children as you would believe Him to be. Mark 9:42 records Jesus saying that for one to cause a little one to stumble, it would be better for him to hang a great millstone around his neck and be thrown into the sea. That doesn't sound like Jesus is telling the victims to just forgive and forget. And He is certainly seemingly lacking in compassion for the perpetrators. He is definitively saying that there is punishment for those who hurt children. He goes on to say that if there is something that causes us to sin, we should remove it from our lives. If a man is tempted to sin by what you outrageously call "the bodies of future adults," Jesus says they should gouge their own eyes out rather than act upon those temptations. He says it is better to go through life crippled or maimed than to act upon those temptations and then go to hell to the unquenchable fire. There is absolute punishment for those who commit heinous crimes against others. Even if we are repentant, there are consequences to our actions. God is not a God of forgiveness only, but also a God of justice. This is the whole and complete reason that Jesus had to die on the cross; because God requires a penalty to be paid for sin. And even being forgiven by Jesus, we still face consequences for our actions or misdeeds in this life. It's just really not that hard to understand.

I realize that all my reasoning here with you is as pearls before swine. I grow weary of hearing you spew your twisted perversion of the gospel each time you respond to Rachel or others here. You are indeed a wolf with fangs, however this is not something of which you should be proud. Your speech is unkind and unbecoming of a follower of Christ, especially toward a sister follower of Christ. I expect kinder language from my 4 year old son toward his 6 year old sister than you have publicly displayed here.

The heart of the matter is that Rachel questions the integrity of the leadership of this church. Your efforts to malign her in an attempt to put her back into her place in the flock have only served to give her more cause for alarm. I would sincerely hope that your beliefs are only held by a tiny minority of members of CLC, but even that is too much. If your beliefs are in the majority there, I would call upon anyone who is a member there to do some serious soul-searching and would recommend a search for another place to worship the Lord. He is truly not pleased by the attitudes, the arrogance, and the condescension you have so proudly put on display here.

David Payne said...

@ForHim:

I agree with Shellie in response to what you have written, but I still think you might be intentionally trying to stir up trouble for CLC and SGM, perhaps because of a bitterness of your own. Well, I guess it doesn’t really matter if you are an SGMer as you say you are or an imposter- the effect is the same. Let me explain, though, why your persona seems false to me:

1) I have been a member of CLC for 20 years, 10 years with CJ and 10 with Josh. In all that time I have never run across anyone who talked as stridently and with such intemperate language as you do, either at CLC or anyone connected to SGM, either in writing or in person.

2) You haven’t revealed your name. Anyone who was really interested in helping others wouldn’t be reticent about being known.

3) You have never been on the CLCforum web site, which is a place where members share their thoughts about current events. There is lots of “incorrect” thinking going on there, and I would have thought you would have jumped at the chance to correct those people. But you have to be a church member and provide your true identity to get on.

4) You provide the strange combination of interpreting events, people, and scriptures in the worst possible light but then defending that. That’s weird. If it truly is sarcasm, then it reminds me of some of the internet atheists that I used to debate.

5) Your attitudes are the exact opposite of those of Josh Harris, the CLC senior pastor. Josh has only blessed those who felt they needed to leave CLC, recognizing the doubts that people are having about us.

6) Your awareness of current events at CLC is sketchy- you have some details but not others, which is what I would expect of someone getting their information from internet discussion sites but not firsthand. For example, you know that Josh acknowledged having been abused himself as a child, but you do not seem to be aware that the CLC pastors have hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation of past actions to determine if mistakes were made or if there was a cover up of any kind. This report will then be made public, I believe, after the current legal proceedings have run their course.

7) You refer to CLC/SGM as if they were the same thing. Are you aware that a break has taken place between CLC and SGM, and specifically between CJ and CLC? Those personally loyal to CJ have pretty much all left CLC. In fact, there is now a new SGM church plant nearby for those who left CLC to go to. CLC is a much different place than it was. Given the change in membership over time, quite a few don’t even know who CJ is. Of the current 19 pastors, only 4 (Josh, Robin, Grant, and Kenneth) were in senior leadership during CJ’s tenure. Probably about half have joined the staff after CJ stepped down.

David Payne said...

You do not seem to be aware that one of the main reasons for that CLC-SGM/CJ split was that more than two years ago, even before Brent Detweiler’s documents came out, Josh decided to listen to those who were disaffected, and organized group meetings at his house to hear them out. What they learned was a deeper understanding of some of the problems with the practices of CLC over the years, and they began to change and acknowledge past mistakes. Grant and Kenneth, especially, were leaders in doing that. That was met with disagreement and resistance from those in the SGM leadership who did not see a need for any fundamental change. This disagreement became sharper after Josh tried to be even-handed in listening to critics (my interpretation) after Brent published his documents. Some in SGM appeared to be unhappy that he didn’t defend SGM more aggressively. When a group of churches inside SGM circulated a letter calling for greater openness and autonomy for churches within SGM, Josh and every one of the CLC pastors lent their names to it. I think that these pastors/churches hoped to be an independent voice within SGM, but the SGM leadership strongly disagreed. The breaking point came when a new governing structure was proposed that would have required local SGM church pastors to submit to higher regional bodies. So, Josh and the CLC pastors decided they needed to leave SGM, and asked the congregation to vote on it to demonstrate their sentiment. The vote was 1,400 to 100 to leave SGM. Since then, roughly a quarter of the SGM churches have left. And yet, you do not seem to be aware of any of this.

Let me assume for the moment that you are someone masquerading as an SGM/CLC person in order to make us look bad. First, I am truly sorry for any experience in an SGM church that you were a victim of. You should understand that CLC started out over 30 years ago as a place to practice radical Christianity, similar to many mission churches in the beginning of the non-denominational era in the 1970’s. The leadership was all very young. There was hardly anyone over 30, much less 40 or 50. One of the characteristics of mission churches is that expectations of sacrifice for the good of the whole are higher. Some thrive in this context, but some do not. The problems of those who do not might be ignored or dismissed, since others are doing well and those who are newly catching the vision are joining the church. Rapid growth does not lend itself to reflection and self-evaluation. There may be a tendency to think that acknowledging fundamental problems is just introspection, which can be viewed as a hindrance to the mission itself. (This is all my interpretation, by the way.) SGM grew quickly to around 90 churches, some of them overseas, largely through CJ’s tireless efforts. But then, I believe God brought Josh to CLC as an intended corrective to the problems that had developed. It is a pity that the SGM leadership didn’t listen. I still believe that there is a lot of good remaining in SGM, but the fruit cannot last if the foundation is not solid. All the good works will end up being swept away (reminds me of a parable I once read). I learned this the hard way in the 1980’s, when I was in a charismatic church that practiced shepherding, another example of an idea that sounded good in theory, but didn’t work in practice and ended up hurting a lot of people. My small church of 100 experienced 3 church splits in 10 years and the suicide of the church secretary.

David Payne said...

Second, attacking others will not solve your problems. The Bible (not SGM) says that only through forgiveness can come healing. (Of course, this in no way excuses the perpetrators from consequences.)

Third, God has already humbled and broken us. For example, quite a few people believe that we harbor child rapists. Both those on the survivors websites and SGMers themselves have attacked us, so we’ve gotten it from both sides. People have left us who believed we were too hard on SGM or too soft. We used to believe that we were something special, now we don’t anymore. Everyone, from the pastors on down, is aware through bitter experience that we don’t have all the answers. So, why would I choose to stay in such a church? Probably because I have searched all my life for what was real and what was not. I had thought I had found what was real when I came to CLC. CJ’s message of personal humility was certainly biblical and somewhat unique. I felt that God was going to teach me something through these people. And I certainly did become acquainted with godly people that I have learned much from over the years, many of whom are still at CLC. Finally, I thought CLC had the accountability structure that was lacking in my previous church, though I now think that I was mistaken.

But, when what I thought was real at CLC crumbled, I found a new real. I found it among those who are nothing and know they are nothing, among those who have made serious mistakes and yet have learned from them. Instead of getting caught up in the exuberance of a new splashy move of God, we are learning the hard discipline of God (Heb. 12:5-6), with a still very young pastor who has embraced that discipline and refuses to hide from it or make excuses, and is leading us by his example. And I could tell you of many others at CLC who are doing the same thing. It is with such people that I am honored to be able to serve God alongside. There is much that God is doing here, even though it is with fewer people than before!

So, “For Him,” whatever your background or motivation, I hope you will allow God to redirect your service to Him, because that is the only fruit that will last into eternity.

For Him said...

David: you pose some intriguing points, and your astute observations speak well of you. Incidentally though, many of them also operate hand in hand with what Shellie (one is unacquainted with God's work being done in our midst) has reaffirmed in my mind: that my approach has been both necessary and prudent.

For all here, let it suffice to know that I am somewhat of a public figure and with as much as my words have been twisted (both here and in the past) time has proven my choice to make my posting-name about the One I serve rather than about me a wise one.

Shellie provides yet another example of this twisting. In my response to Daniel, I asked him to try to understand why I initially saw this blog as another in the chorus of what Daniel so aptly observed as the nature of anti-CLC bloggers: those who want to "find pity from other disaffected persons who forever see themselves as victims." My overall point was to say that I echo his assessment in general, and that while I first saw this blog as a continuation of that trend, ultimately, I was willing to reconsider based on Daniel's encouragement. So, Shellie, no I was NOT merely saying I currently think of this blog as part of that chorus, but rather that I did at first but am willing to bear with Rachel for a certain amount of time, as Daniel is as well.

I grow weary of my concerns being dismissed. My words are twisted by outsiders, and though that distortion is evident, my decision to protect my name is impugned. If any of you had any idea how much tithe money I have invested, ridicule from friends and family I have endured, and effort I have put forth for CLC you would be astounded. One of the happiest days of my life was when we moved into our own building after the sacrificial tithes of our members! My heart is still very much with SGM, but CLC is the home I helped to build. I am not in such a rush to disown SGM though and I foresee that one day we will be reunited.

For Him said...

I see CLC sitting on a precipice. On one side is the proud, though not flawless, legacy we share with our SGM family; on the other is total renunciation. Oh how my heart is unsettled about our indecisiveness. We say our SGM brothers are fully fit for ministry even as we treat them like the kid at school without deodorant; we promote their materials, sit on the same boards, defend many of their actions, hold onto some of the same pastors implicated in the lawsuit, "harbor rapists" (as David bluntly put it), and so on but still insist on our separation. We are being bullied into this position by critics. But I believe the time is coming when they will fully need our full support (the conviction of Nathan Morales is but a sign of coming storms) and since we have lent SGM credence and share so much of our history with them, the Christian and secular world will see us as trying to have it both ways when the full storm hits.

Do you know how irritating it is when my Lutheran brother-in-law sends me articles like this (http://www.worldmag.com/2013/07/church_guards) and says "There goes your pastor man Harris talking the glossy talk, but not doing anything to make things right for the victims-how hard is it to sign a statement?"!! Josh, as much as I respect and treasure his leadership, is giving us the appearance of indecisiveness. The internal investigations (both the new one and the A.o.R.'s) makes it look like we’re giving credence to our critics on the one hand, yet trying to circumvent the consequences of criminal investigations on the other. Our history may not sound totally ideal, but given this fallen world, we did the best we could and should not get trapped looking backwards instead of forward. Sadly our nation has fallen into this trap and I will not sit by as my church inches ever closer to it. God’s Word warns us of the consequences of being lukewarm. That is why I believe the answer is to not be ashamed of defending our most controversial positions. If we take the offensive stance now and explain that which is so often misunderstood first, then it will deprive our critics the pleasure of thinking they've unearthed dark secrets.

My efforts to take a position of strength have revealed an unwillingness to consider what difficult decisions CLC has had to make throughout its history. As I've said, the storms will hit harder and saying we are not part of SGM anymore or that we're more open (while those things sound nice) are not strong enough walls to defend against this storm. I have had enough of being ridiculed for thinking big-picture. Rather than regret lukewarmness at a later point because we hoped this all might go away, please prepare yourselves to anticipate what our enemies will say and what legal muckraking may find as our First Amendment rights are infringed, and dig your trenches now, before we are put on the defensive. Please prayerfully consider my concern. And for critics, I exhort you to put yourselves in the shoes of the pastors, currently and in the tragic challenges in our past, and ask yourselves if you really could have done any better.

Rachel said...

I just wanted to say a few things before I lock this thread to future comments.

Public figure or no, I sense haughty arrogance creeping into the words of your post, For Him. I doubt the Lord is glorified by your bragging about how much money you've tithed, time you've invested, and all that. I appreciate you taking the time to share your perspective as it has helped me see what sort of people still attend CLC. Granted, not all of them are like you. However, with how strongly CLC's bond with SGM has been, I find it hard to believe that there are not still some attendees who share your views.

I have discussed your most recent post with my husband and he expressed to me that he would like to go back and adjust his previous comment about the victims finding pity from other disaffected parties. His sole purpose in writing those paragraphs was to defend me, and he wishes to express that he does not see all SGM victims that way.

As for you bearing with me for a certain amount of time as Daniel will (because he is my husband), I hope you do not feel obligated in any way, shape, or form to do so. My struggle is real, my questions are honest, and my healing will happen, by God's grace, as I seek spiritual leadership outside CLC. I do not wish to stay where I am spiritually, and I do not wish to stay in CLC while moving forward on my path to recovery. I especially would not want to see CLC reunited with SGM, but I choose not to concern myself with their decisions regarding that matter.

Putting myself in the pastors' shoes, I would've done things differently. I would not have stood for any tolerance of sin against children. Clearly there were choices that should've been made that were not made, and things would've gone a lot better than they have.

Thank you, everyone, for your comments. I believe it is time to put this discussion to rest.