I realize that I have never really sat down with the two of you to share why we really left meetings. I believe many people believe we left meetings because we were deeply offended. A few likely believe we left because we refused to submit to the worker’s demands or because we were in rebellion- therefore, our leave was because of unwillingness.
While it is true that many offenses have come my way at the hands of those in meetings, it is not the reason we left. It is no secret that I was not exactly treated lovingly by those in meetings. However, if my reason for leaving was because of this treatment, I would have left long ago. I do want to address some of these issues though because it is intimately tied to my testimony.
I do not think you can fully comprehend or understand the pain of having people you trust spread rumors about you. Yes, I know you also felt the pain as people lied about the daughter you love, and I am sure it felt like they were attacking you as well, but I am not sure you can really understand how it felt to have my reputation and purity slandered at such a young age (11). This is something that would impact me for many years to come.
As I got older, I had a hard time understanding why no one stood up for me. Yes, I realize that that XXX approached you, and you eventually approached some of the people involved, but why didn’t anyone stand up during that time, why didn’t anyone deal with this immediately? I do not speak of this as myself, but as a completely different person looking upon this situation from the outside.
As I have aged and heard other stories of what has happened to other people, it is clear that most people in meetings are not interested in justice. They are not interested in correcting, rebuking, and reforming, but rather sweeping things under the rug. They are not interested in restoration, but are more interested in “keeping up appearances”, even if it means destroying lives.
I absolutely cannot understand why these rumors and issues surrounding me were not brought before some authority and why that authority would not move to resolve the issue once and for all so that a young child’s life would not be damaged and beaten down, but lifted up by God’s love through the people.
This was such a turning point in my life. I am sure you can see it as well if you look back and inspect how my attitude and actions drastically changed following this.
I became an outcast and acted as an outcast. I was rejected by those I trusted, those who were supposedly “God’s children”. These people I held up to a high standard, who claimed to be the only church, had hurt me so deeply. Even if these rumors were true (which they absolutely WERE NOT), how would such actions have helped restore me to Christ? How would shunning me and talking about me behind my back bring me back into “righteousness”?
But, you know what? Despite how I was treated, I loved these people. I thought they must have been right about me because they were “professing” and they were well-respected people in meetings. I saw myself as a horrible, horrible person. I hated myself. I wanted to die, and I constantly thought about ways to kill myself. I was not even a teenager yet! Of course, when I became a teen, things only got worse, and the desire to just end it plagued my thoughts. I was sure I would never “make it” to heaven. I felt I could never live up to the standards of meetings. I knew I was “doomed” for hell, so I figured I might as well just get it over with.
I thank God that by His might He kept me from ending my own life. It is His grace that saved me from myself so that I might find my salvation and new life in Him.
I look back and think of all the signs I gave you… screaming out for help. I remember writing poetry and leaving it out for you to see or reading it to you. I remember burning my face out of photos and leaving them on the floor for you to come across. You had to know I was cutting my arms. Who wears long sleeves in the middle of scorching Texas summers? (I am not saying you never tried to help- but I am saying, I needed more than a few visits from the workers and some talks over chips and dip. I desperately needed Jesus.)
I desperately needed God’s love, and I desperately needed someone to tell me that God loved me right where I was and that He wasn’t asking me to conform, but rather to come to Jesus and lay my burden at His feet. I would try to talk to the workers, and I was told that I needed to “walk the straight and narrow”. I was basically told I needed to pull myself up by my bootstraps and get it together. I tried to do that. I tried to look like a good little professing girl, but we both know that I was living a lie.
This became the story of my life–trying to live a good, godly life, but knowing I was failing.
This is the issue I have with meetings. As I have witnessed some of my friends leave meetings because they struggle to live up to the standard, and then try to pull themselves up and stuff themselves back into the mold, and go back to meetings because they think it is “right”- I see that they believe that meetings will save them- that going to meetings and walking the meeting way is what will “change them”. Some have confessed to me that they are still struggling with their sin- still daily fighting the fight against it and trying not to succumb to it.
I am not saying that those who are in Christ will never be tempted or struggle with sin, but it is clear that these folks have not yet overcome the major sin in their lives. Why is this? It is because they have not been transformed by God, but have just tried to conform themselves to a way of life and a list of unwritten rules. They hope that, by doing so, they will “make it”. But in Christ, we have power over sin. Where is that power over sin in meetings? It is not there because meetings does not have the power to save us from our sin. It has NO power over sin. Only Christ does.
Spiritually, there is no “fake it until you make it”. The bible tells us that the law had no power to make us holy. In fact, the law only reveals how sinful we are!
This was the issue with the Pharisees. They insisted on the law and an extra list of laws that were to keep them “extra holy”, but they did all this on their own power. They seemed pretty holy…. on the outside, but Jesus was more concerned with their hearts.
This is why Jesus tells us that adultery is not just a physical act–but first an inner act (looking upon another with lust- Matthew 5:28), and that murder is not just killing someone with your own hands, but hating someone. (1 John 3:15)
Lord Jesus is far more concerned with the heart than the outward deeds. It is what comes out of a man (what is within a man) that defiles Him. (Mark 7:15, Matt 15:18).
Mark 7:21 states, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders….”
You see, God was not pleased with the sacrifices and sin offerings, even though they were required by the law (Hebrews 10:8). He desires obedience from the heart, which is one of the reasons why He sent Jesus Christ, forming a new covenant with us.
”This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them” (Hebrews 10:16)
God doesn’t want His law to be something we just follow because it’s right, but because it’s written on our heart, lived out in love for God.
Here’s the thing that most people don’t understand. Apart from Christ, we are completely incapable of holy living. Read Ephesians 2:1-10. “You were dead in your trespasses and sin…” We are dead. The dead cannot do anything and the dead certainly cannot bring themselves to life. The dead can’t muster up good works. The dead can never be “good enough”. The dead cannot earn life. They are Dead. DEAD!
”and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest”
From our very birth, we were, by our very nature (imputed to us from Adam’s sin), under God’s wrath.
”But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love (…) made us alive together with Christ…”
You see, it is all God’s doing. This is why I felt so helpless. I couldn’t do it myself. And, I had been told it was a “partnership” with God, but that’s not true either. It is all God’s doing. Because of his great love and mercy, He plucks us out of death and into life, placing us in Christ- literally clothing us in Christ.
He does this to show us the “surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” He doesn’t do it because we’ve been “good” or because we’ve been obedient. We were incapable of obedience because we were dead, and under the power of Satan. (Ephesians 2:2, 1 John 5:19, Jn. 12:31; 14:30; 15:10).
We are reminded several times in this passage in Ephesians that it is not our doing- “by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
So, God made us alive. Our works did not achieve this. We could not muster up enough faith- even our faith was a gift of God. The dead cannot bring themselves into faith. God brought us to life, planted faith within us, and created us as a new man in Christ.
“We are His workmanship in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
Here again we see that our works are not what earn us new life in Christ (salvation), but our good, godly works are a natural result of our new life in Christ. God has prepared a path for us to walk, being the hands and feet and mouthpiece of Christ. It is our purpose!
So, in summary, we are God’s workmanship, brought to life BY him, seated IN Him, gifted with faith THROUGH Him, and created to walk in works prepared BY Him.
It is all God’s doing. All I am called to do is “repent and follow me”- which is to confess my sins before Him, turn away from them, and follow Him.
This is why Jesus is constantly telling His followers to “remain in my love”, because it was not just about following the law, but about love. God’s love is drastically different from human love.
The Word (Jesus) was God and took on flesh (John 1:1, 14) and led went to the cross where He took on our sin, carried our pain, was STRUCK DOWN by His Father, pierced because of our transgression, CRUSHED because of our iniquities… the Lord PUNISHED Him for the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6). God loves us so much, the bible says He was PLEASED to crush His own Son. (Is. 53:10)
What is so amazing about Jesus is that He is God in flesh. I have NEVER EVER, EVER heard this spoken on in meeting. (I have, however, heard it spoken against!)
The bible is clear that Jesus is God. (Do not be mistaken, he is not God the Father. And this doesn’t mean there is more than one God.) This is one that seems difficult to understand, because we live in a finite world with a limited understanding- just as it is difficult for us to understand God who has no beginning and no end and is the God that created time and does not live by its constraints as we do, it is also difficult to understand how God is three (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), yet one.
I believe Chip outlined how Jesus is God for you before, and He does it far better than I can, but I do want to mention some verses as evidence and then I’ll move on.
Colossians 1 gives a good picture of who Jesus Christ is. It is important that we know who He is, because if we are going to confess Him as our Lord (Master), then we’d better know WHO we are confessing.
Colossians 1 states that he is the image of the invisible God, firstborn over all creation, and that BY HIM everything was created- everything in heaven, on earth, everything visible and invisible, all thrones and dominions, rulers and authorities. The bible states that all things were created through Him and for Him. (How can a mere human man create the earth and all these things?) We are told that he is “before all things” and that He holds all things together. He is the head of the body and the church, He is the beginning. He is the firstborn of the dead. God’s fullness dwells in Him, and He is the one who reconciles us to God.
Hebrews 1 is also very revealing of Christ. Here we learn that Jesus is the heir of all things, and all things were made through Him. God has spoken to us by Him. The Father’s Son is a reflection of His glory, and God’s nature is perfectly expressed in and through His Son. We learn that His word is powerful and life giving.
We learn that Jesus made purification for our sin, He suffered and died (taking on God’s wrath) for us, and then rose to life, taking His place at the right hand of God. In verse eight, we learn that Jesus Christ is the SON of God, and IS GOD. He is KING. He is JUST. His Kingdom reigns forever. JESUS crafted the heavens and the earth. And, He is unchanging and everlasting.
Jesus is our groom, we are his bride. Isaiah 54 states, “For your husband is your Maker—His name is Yahweh of Hosts—and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth. (It is also important to note that, in Genesis, God states, “Let US make man in OUR image”.)
The Old Testament is not outdated. It is what points to Christ, and we can still believe on Christ even if all we have is the Old Testament. This is all the New Testament believers would have had–books from the Old Testament, and this is what the Bereans in Acts would have searched to see if what the disciples/apostles said was true.
We can do the same- we should be searching the bible to see if what we hear from others is true. Before, I would often go to others (workers, friends) for explanations, but now I understand that I need to first go to the bible. I can discern a lie from the truth if I am in the Word of God. I test the spirits through the Word of God to see if what they proclaim and how they act matches with the Word.
This is why we don’t have to fear what we hear or read from others. I have read the notes you have given me where workers warn people not to read information against meetings or the workers because they are afraid they will be led astray. This is absolutely ridiculous. True believers should be able to discern whether something is true or false, light or dark, from God or not by comparing it to the Word of God.
Brandon and I have done just this, and have found meetings to be lacking. While in meetings, we began to hear much heresy being preached by the workers. This is what caused us to leave. We knew we had to protect our children’s hearts and minds from such unbiblical teaching. And, we began to realize, this teaching wasn’t exclusive to a particular meeting where we met.
I had heard about William Irvine when I was a teenager and it did not phase me. However, once leaving, I researched more into it and began to realize He really is the founder, along with another man. He eventually was excommunicated from His own group.
If meetings are really “the way”, and God really used Irvine to raise it up, why would he eventually lead this man to be excommunicated from “the true way”?
Where in scripture do we see God raise up a prophet and then condemn Him? Either God raised up a man to bring “truth” to the world and then failed to “guard Him” (which would make God a weak God and the bible a lie) or God raised up Irvine but the people who excommunicated Him and continued to build “the truth/meetings” are the ones who have turned from God’s prophet. OR, it’s all a big sham, a big lie, and not of God.
There is no other option there.
I John 2:21 says no lie is of the truth. Why is it that for so many years, workers and friends sought to cover up their beginnings and their founders? Now, many of them confess it, but others are still denying it. Jesus did not hide anything. He brought everything out in the open. He hates lies, and anything built on a lie or covered up is NOT of God.
Romans 1:18 says the unrighteous suppress the truth.
Irvine imposed extra teachings on the Word. The bible says that anyone who does not remain in the teaching about Christ but goes beyond it does not have God. (2 John 9). I know you probably won’t, but I encourage you to read about Irvine and His teachings. Be willing to confront it. Maybe you will conclude it is a lie, but I encourage you to seek the truth even if it means it hurts you or makes you extremely uncomfortable.
We are to seek truth and NEVER EVER settle for a lie. It seems to me many people in meetings will not search out things- they are not willing to question what they hear in meetings. They accept what the workers say as truth, even over the bible.
Hebrews 13:7 tells us to “remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith.”
Now, in light of all the information that has come forth from workers you respect, like Ira Hobbs, as you examine their lives, would you want to imitate their faith? Does it not make you question everything he preached seeing as he was defiling himself and hurting young girls throughout his time in the work as were many other workers? I remember the horrible comments made about the Catholic faith (which, btw, I don’t agree either either) when it came out that many of their leaders were sexually abusing children. If meeting-goers used the same judgment with which they judged the Catholics against their own group and leaders…. Well, what would that say about meetings?
I have seen and heard so many people in meetings sweep these things under the rug and deny them- EVEN WHEN THEY HAPPEN TO THEIR OWN CHILDREN. It is sickening to me. Most of time the way it is confronted is to turn against the victims and claim they are liars or that it is their fault, instead of truly dealing with the issue or asking questions.
As I examined the lives of people I went to meeting with, and saw the “fruits” produced, I began to realize I wanted NOTHING to do with their teachings. I had been told over and over that God’s way is perfect, His people are not- and I had used that as an excuse. God does not use that excuse when He makes His judgments. The bible says: “You will know them by their fruits.” I see some rotten fruit, and I see very little correction and rebuke.
Paul was constantly admonishing and rebuking the church. Where is the admonishing and rebuking in meetings? The only admonishing I have heard is that the people shouldn’t read certain material, should make it to every meeting, shouldn’t dress this way, shouldn’t have televisions in their home, etc.
WHAT ABOUT THE HEART?
You have told me that I should ask the workers, talk to the workers…over and over. I have many times over the course of my life, even right before and after we left. They were not willing to answer my questions, but they were definitely willing to shake fingers at me and slander me. Chip and I have welcomed them to come and speak to us. We have welcomed any professing person to come discuss the bible with us openly and calmly, but NONE have been willing. We have asked if we can sit down and open the bible and discuss beliefs and the truths within. We have been more than willing. We have asked.
1 Peter 3:15 tells us to always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. How are we to be prepared? To constantly be in the Word, to be in prayer, to be searching the scriptures and asking God for wisdom and understanding. We are willing and ready to explain what we believe and why we believe what we believe. We do not do this to create division, but because we hurt to see people in bondage to rules, misunderstanding the bible, and blind to the love of God. We want all to come to an understanding of what is TRUE, not truth in the aspects of meeting, but Truth as relating to Christ. Christ is the Way, The Truth, and the Life. We want to see people in the word of God, looking to Christ, not to a man-made way.
If all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16), why isn’t anyone in meetings willing to discuss it? Why is it, when someone demands a clear Scriptural answer, they are told they don’t have enough faith?
Faith is believing God’s word–believing that God will do as He has promised. Faith is not accepting what someone says as “truth”. It is relying on God’s Word alone!
”But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8) The apostles preached the Words of Jesus. Therefore, they were telling people–if anyone–even if an ANGEL appears and tells you something, if it goes against God’s Word, don’t believe it. Let him be cursed!
Everything we believe should be CLEARLY founded on the Word of God. The Bible is not coded. It is clear. I am SO sick of hearing people twist it. If the bible stated, “The sky is blue,” there would be people who would say, “by blue, God means green.”
I see this done so often within meetings, it SICKENS me. I often see this done regarding the woman’s place. You already know my position on this. Women are not to have authority over men, are not to be teachers (over men), but this is clearly done in meetings, no matter how you try to deny it.
1 Timothy and Titus are clear on the qualifications of church leaders- stating that a church leader can have a wife AND A HOUSEHOLD (meaning he has a house), yet meetings preach that their leaders (which the bible calls elders and you call workers. You call elders what the bible calls deacons) have to be homeless, unmarried/celibate etc. This is meant to be the exception, NOT THE RULE.
There are many things I like about meetings, but I absolutely hate that it is being preached as the “only way”, lifting itself above Christ, and claiming that one must “go to meetings” in order to be in the “right way”. And I hate that it is taught that you can never know if you are saved until Jesus returns, and we just have to HOPE that we’ve been good enough and God will save us. Biblically hope isn’t just wishing, but hope is assurance. Something we can be sure of.
The bible tells us we can be assured of our faith and our salvation. It is not something we constantly have to question….. IF our faith is in Christ and Christ alone, and not in man or some group or some gathering or some law.
As I read through the New Testament, and as I read the prayers in the Old and New Testament, I see little that resembles meeting. So either the bible is wrong and God is a liar, or there is something severely amiss in meetings.
You have been pretty clear in where you stand–with your notes and your letters and the comments you have made.
I admit, I have not always been graceful in dealing with it, and I apologize for that. I let my anger and my frustration override.
I want you to know where I stand, though. I believe in Christ and Christ alone. Our family has been searching for a people to fellowship with that believe the same- who aren’t just sitting in church, warming a seat, but who are seeking to BE the HANDS and FEET of Jesus. To reach out to people and tell them the Good News of Jesus Christ- that He has paid the price for our sin. This is an urgent message everyone needs to hear, and yet so many people are not willing to spread it. Why would you hide a candle under a basket? Why would you hide such a powerful truth? EVERY SINGLE PERSON in God’s kingdom should be preaching it. We are ALL disciples of Christ and we are ALL called to go forth and make MORE disciples, spreading the Word. Every man is extremely sick (with sin) and Christ is the cure. If you had the cure for cancer, wouldn’t you share it with everyone you know? Christ is the cure for death and God’s wrath. It is important to share this message!
Mom and Dad, I don’t think I need to tell you what a mess I made of my life. I don’t think you know the full extent, but both Brandon and I were at the end of our rope. My every effort to make things better only made things worse. There I was, one day, looking over myself and realizing I was not a good person. I had tried to convince myself for years that I was a “decent person”, even though, deep inside, I knew I was not. I was so angry with Brandon and other people for what they had done to me, but then I realized, if I made up a list of the things I had done- if I was looking at that list from another’s point of view, would there be one person who would say I was a good person?
No. I was not a good person. I was a horrible, horrible person. I remember sobbing and thinking, “What can I do? Who can fix this mess I’ve made?”
And I clearly remember a still small voice whispering, “I can.”
You see, I finally saw myself for who I was. Horrible. Pathetic. Wretched. Undeserving.
And then I saw Christ for who He was. While I was still a sinner, He died for me. And even though I had not done ONE THING to deserve it, He was stretching out His hand to pull me from the grasp of sin and into new life.
That was a huge day for me because it not only brought me salvation in Christ, but it allowed me to forgive EVERY SINGLE PERSON I had EVER held a grudge against or been offended by. I forgave XXX and XXX. I forgave my mother-in-law.
And yes, sometimes these offenses and resentments would creep back up (and still do), but then I would be reminded of how great a love had saved me–who I was before, and how horrible I was, and I knew that I was no better… yet God have granted me forgiveness.
I was not able to forgive before because I didn’t understand God’s forgiveness or His love.
God has healed all things within me. There are no longer scars, the wounds have disappeared. I look back at my past and while I wonder and am amazed (and not in a good way) at the way people treated me and those I love, there is a loving forgiveness that covers them, and I pray for them to know the forgiveness and the love of Christ that I have come to know.
I now understand that it is God who transforms. All my life I had tried to conform. I had tried to be obedient by doing what I knew was right, but I was unable. We are ALL unable.
It is such JOY for me to look on my brother’s life and see him COMPLETELY transformed. He is a different person, just as my husband is a different person and I am a different person. We are not perfect people, but we are DEFINITELY DIFFERENT now, and we are being sanctified through Christ… and it is the most wonderful thing.