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Ebenezer — The Meeting

Edited to Add: On the Tenth Anniversary of this meeting, I am removing all the ambiguity and naming the people involved in this terrible event. 


October 17 at 1:00 PM. Don’t ever call me or email me or meet with me on that day at that time. Everything ominous happens then. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle of days. I’m officially crawling under the covers forever and aye on that day at 1.

In 2006, I had had a feeling for two weeks before October 17 that I had become a persona non grata. You can kinda sense those things. People would turn the other way when they saw me in the hall, avoid giving me straight answers. When my friends, Erin Naler and Sharon Murry, did face me, all I saw was that deer-caught-in-the-headlights expression. They stopped eating lunch with me, admitting later that Darren Lawson had instructed them to “avoid looking like they were in a group with me.”

I kept trying to talk myself out of it. In time, I realized that that instinct was spot-on accurate.

I was called to a meeting — alone — with two other people above me on the food chain: Dean of Fine Arts Darren Lawson and Division Chairman Lonnie Polson. I asked Polson the nature of the meeting. Polson stated that “it was a student matter.” That was not at all true.

So on October 17, 2006 at 1pm we three met. It was raining cats and dogs that day. We were all soaked. My feet were so wet that the shoe polish had bled on to my hose.

The meeting was clearly all about me. Lawson accused me of requiring BJU Board Members’ son Brandon Smith to read VanVonderen’s Tired of Trying to Measure Up. Well, no. . . . I had given it to Brandon as a gift because he was . . . well, tired of trying to measure up!

I was asked the nature of the book. It seemed that Lawson had read the Amazon reviews because he had the buzz words down without their actual context. Their leading questions were trying to get me to admit, it seemed, that I had disobeyed orders about bringing my parenting views into “the classroom.” I said flat-out to Lawson, “No. I have not. You told me not to.” It’s not a parenting book anyway; it’s a Christian devotional. We discussed VanVonderen’s theology, and it finally came down to my saying, “Look — I’m the only one that’s read this book, so this discussion isn’t really going to be productive. But I can get you both a copy!” 😉 Soon after I volunteered to stop recommending the book and to send people to Galatians and Romans instead. Polson burst out in a spontaneous but knowing chuckle. Lawson said, attempting to sound informed, “Uh . . . yeah, that’d be good.”

Next came those infamous internet forum threads. Lawson and Polson were not pleased with my posts. Polson described me as “caustic.” I was really kind of stunned by that, and I said so. I said that I was trying to keep things on task. In hindsight, I think what had happened is that they had only read the last thread I had started and never saw what led up to it. I can imagine that it was not in their interest to read all the threads, but my perspective and intentions were never solicited. Lawson mansplained me and stated that I was simply a “young mother” (I was 38!). “We are still getting letters about this, Camille. But don’t worry — we’re defending you.” I wish I’d asked for more information, but I was in get-out-of-here-as-quickly-as-possible mode. I learned in July 2016 that the letters were from Don Johnson, a BJU-orbit pastor. Nonetheless, in 2006, an information-gathering interview it was not. Lawson expressed that he wished it’d all go away. I think that this was my cue to volunteer to delete the threads (I found out later that Greg Mazak had been required to do so at Sharper Iron as well). I wasn’t going to volunteer that. I was fulfilling a promise I’d made, and I was going to see that through. I simply joked, “Oh, the servers’ll crash some day. Don’t worry.”

And there was yet more.

“I understand that you’re publishing your dissertation with Baylor.”

Yes. I was. . . . I had told Polson about that (but I don’t know that he necessarily remembered.) And I’d told only a few other people. I still don’t know how or why that came to his attention. Obviously, there was a lot of talk swirling around about me!

“Did you check the faculty handbook about publishing?” Lawson asked. Seemed like another trap.

“Yes. I did. It said that if I were publishing outside of my area of expertise, then I’d go to the dean that oversaw that area of expertise for approval. Since this is my dissertation, it is by definition my area of expertise, so it didn’t apply.”

Lawson, thwarted, sat back as if to regroup. It seemed to me that I foiled his attempt to catch me in a sin of omission. He continued.

Lawson finally got to the point. “And you have a chapter in there about Jim Berg.”

“Well, now . . . I’m still in the editing phase. I don’t know what it’s going to look like. I’m still working. I don’t know what I’m going to do. . . . I’d be happy to have you all read it. I really need readers.” I was really wrestling with this writing thing. I needed outside help. And I said as much.

Lawson put up his hand to stop me and as if to say “no thanks.” He continued and I quote this exactly, “I would strongly discourage you from doing that, Camille. We really like you and Grant, and we wouldn’t want you to do anything that would jeopardize your time here.”

Huh? What? It’s publish and perish? Are you kidding me? No one in the room besides me had even read the original dissertation, so why all the fear and trepidation about it? What did you all hear? What rumors are going around about me? I didn’t actually say any of that. I was just thinking it. Lawson was not distinguishing between one chapter and the whole dissertation. And he was telling me in a very vague, passive-aggressive fashion that publishing at all was putting my employment in jeopardy.

They continued to disagree with me for the inferred direction I was taking in that chapter that they had never read from a book they had never read. I tried to discuss it, but that was not encouraged. I was supposed to just listen, not interact.

The meeting ended shortly after that. I just tried to skedaddle out of there as quickly as possible. I ran to Grant’s office in tears. I cried for weeks. It was a threat. I felt attacked and demoralized. I felt abandoned and betrayed too — especially by Lonnie Polson whom I really believed was my friend.

It all still brings me to tears. I now know that the system does that to good, noble people. It forces them to act like they wouldn’t otherwise — to assume the worst intentions, to betray and bully, and to run from obvious solutions — because no other option seems viable. The kind of Christian community that Paul urges us towards is just not possible in a toxic environment. It’s a bad system. Polson, my friend, looked so very small and so unlike the man I know he is.

I started my series on Grace after that. Go look at it. I needed to hone in on a benevolent God for my own soul health. And I figured that since The Powers that Be were so closely reading my blog, I’d give them something to read. Nothing like a “captive” audience, right? I know that people have poked fun at that series — more of that gracelessness endemic to sickly system, I realize. I keep repeating to myself that we all are not evil, just mistaken.

Now, just to resolve the issue, some time in March we did all meet again. I needed to interact with Lawson, and I was frankly scared to. My palms started to sweat just thinking about it (I have an upset stomach right now as I write this!). I didn’t want to get verbally beat up again. I understand that may not have been the intention of the October meeting, but that’s how it felt. And when it became clear that I’d have to meet with him, I needed Grant there. I couldn’t go in alone. Yet Lawson refused. I simply replied saying, “Grant and I are available at ___.” Lawson continued to insist that Grant not be present. I carbon-copied Gary Weier and emailed back explaining that the last meeting we had had left me feeling “very bruised.” I couldn’t face them again alone. I needed an ally. Finally some time later, Weier responded (On Purim no less! I’ll never forget it!) that “Of course, Grant can come with you to the meeting.”

At that second meeting in March, I explained how I felt back in October. Both Lawson and Polson did admit that they could understand that I felt overwhelmed.

In time I realized what it all was — pure punishment. It was demoralizing and threatening and silencing. This from so-called experts in interpersonal communication. It seemed quite clear that it was supposed to shut me up and shut me down. Kind of ironic in a sense, isn’t it? It was a vivid lesson I hope I never forget. I never, ever want to treat another human being like that, and I never want to treat my sons like that. It was awful.

And it really was the beginning of the end.

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

Romans 8:1-8

25 thoughts on “Ebenezer — The Meeting

  1. It was painful reading that. My stomach is in knots. And while I caught glimpses of the turmoil as you walked through that time, I only really understand it as you lay it all out now.

    (Read a bit more of your book this morning. . . And I can see the intertwining of themes that you wrote as well as the themes of what God has carried you through.)

  2. Wow! How familiar! When I was *summoned* to my meeting with the up-and-ups, I had no clue what was about to happen. It was horrid–like they’d accumulated all this dirt about me and then attacked me with it all. And I wasn’t allowed to defend myself. Ouch.

    I’m so glad God has delivered us from that! I never want to become like them. Better to be like Christ.

  3. Mmm. So “they” lied to get you into a meeting. So much “never doing wrong in order to have a chance of doing right… .” The more you describe the gladder I am that I escaped the place after 1 summer and 1 semester.

    I really don’t understand the place. Most universities would be proud of faculty that get their dissertation published. They really want mindless robots that teach their classes, tow the party line and don’t think. Amazing.

  4. I well remember my husband being blatantly lied to about a meeting with a BJ staff boss. He was told that a certain office at BJ needed his expertise with a project, gave him an outline of the project, and asked to meet with him concerning it. My poor hubby spent hours working on the project. When he went to the meeting the staff member touched on the project for about a minute or two, then shut the door and rudely went off on him about something he thought my husband had done wrong. The “project” was never discussed again.

  5. Camille,

    I graduated from BoJoU in 1986. I ran across your husband’s blog today and your posting above. Your experience, unfortunately, rang true for me. I had hoped that things had loosened up a bit there, but apparently not. I became a confirmed Calvinist while a student. I also abandoned pre-millinialism while there (ironically, after a week-long series of chapel messages by a man that Jr. described as “the greatest teacher of prophecy in our day”). I have always been a bigmouth and never much cared for what people thought, so I was constantly urging my classmates to embrace Calvinism. It is a wonder I was not expelled. Although I found it very humorous that all of Tony Miller’s assistance knew my name. Even Miss Barker knew who I was – HA! Your Lawson/Polson treatment sounded very familiar to my experiences with Tony Miller and my dorm supervisor. Always the call to the office with no idea what the summons pertained to. Always revealed information from unnamed sources. Pathetic and dispicable. What angers me the most after all these years is the number of people that I know whose relationships with God were seriously damaged while there, some perhaps irreparably. I was in school with Darren Lawson, but did not know him very well. I also was in Othello with Polson (’84, ’85??). He struck me as a pompous man. I had hoped after all these years he might have grown in the Faith. Coram Deo.

    Kenneth Holt
    Sugar Land, Texas

  6. Hey, Ken! I’m sorry that you had to endure such similar treatment. All in the name of Christ! Such a shame.

    I will say that I know Lonnie very well. And in all the years I’ve known him, deep down he is not at all pompous. He *is* very, very shy, and as a fellow introvert/shy person, that sometimes comes off as aloof. He’s a good man. A trapped man, but a good man.

  7. I am extremely confused about the entire “fundamental Bible-believing Baptist” thing. I grew up in Southern Baptist churches and my parents were saved because of the witness of some Southern Baptist ladies, but I began attending a “fundamental Bible-Believing, etc etc” church (which repeatedly attacks Southern Baptist churches) about four years ago when I moved to a new area. I did not start seeing cracks in the church’s exterior until some friends and I confronted the “pastor” (a BJU/PCC graduate) about some rather hurtful rumors his daughter had spread (but denied). Although everything seemed resolved, problems again surfaced when I did not choose to attend BJU or another “approved” college due to financial, family, and career reasons but instead a secular college. I was approached by many “well-meaning” people. Again that issue was resolved when I asked if the “pastor” happened to know a good church in my area. The recommended church is now my current church, but it is nothing like my church back home. However, I still cannot get away from the BJU influence. My Sunday School teacher’s wife (a BJU graduate) appears to absolutely detest me and another female student. The “pastor” back home continues to spread his influence through manipulations of the truth, complete lies, and various forms of covert bullying. I could not see these problems clearly until I had been away for some time. I am thankful that we are not alone in these issues. I do know that the “pastor” has quite a bit of spiritual blood on his hands. More than a few people have left the church, including some that left specifically because of him.

  8. Leigh — I’m so sorry that you’re in the middle of that spiritual abuse. Jeff VanVonderen and David Johnson’s book _The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse_ was a big help for us. I’d highly recommend it. Unfortunately, spiritual abuse is reinforced and taught at BJU. I wish that weren’t true, but many in leadership don’t know any different.

    Not all churches are the same though. There are good churches and good pastors that are servant-leaders instead of mob bosses.

    I’m so sorry you’re having to endure all this, Leigh. Sigh. . . . it hurts.

  9. Just now stumbling across your blog. Remember your husband well, mostly from hanging out with music major students of his.

    I remember a similar office visit I once had to make. Not nearly as intense as yours, but no less demoralizing. And unfortunately, I wasn’t even a believer then. The experience shoved me away from following Jesus.

    Oddly enough, I stuck around long enough to graduate. Breaking point for me came shortly after returning to my home state, attempting to reintegrate into my church’s social order, and discovering that I didn’t belong there.

    My question: how could a God who calls himself “Love” choose followers who defined themselves with fear and hatred?

    I often joke about how often I was nearly expelled from college, but when I look back on the whole experience, I can’t help but be afraid that were it not for my best friend here in New Jersey, I may never have returned to Christ.

    It’s not quite as funny anymore.

  10. I rememeber over two years after ‘leaving’ an abusive group, a then remaining, current member,whom I saw outside of an arena waiting to enter for a crusade, looked at me ‘like I was something that had crawled out from under a rock.’! As if I was something to avoid like the plague. What an awful feeling I had at the time. But God helped me shrug it off, quickly forgive her, and let it go. Later, I decided to not even ‘ackowledge her presence’ at a church rally, when I saw her in the congregation. I just ignored her and walked by, not greeting her at all. I thought, if she could not give me the christian gesture of a respectful hello before, I sure was not going to give her an opportunity to ever give me a stare like that again. I felt really free, when I decided to not even acknowledge her presence at that later date. And I believe I gave myself permission to give myself the self-respect that God had for me. I knew I was and am ‘one of His’! And if she had a problem with that, that was ‘her’ problem! I knew that people had ‘lied’ to her about me. You see, I had broken the unforgiveable sin,of calling the group to repentance, and mailing out a letter to the members without the arrogant permission of the high and mighty leaders! All those leaders were removed four years after they drove me out. What goes around comes around. When I left, I told the Lord that “I wanted to live differently.’ I never wanted to hurt any person like I was hurt. God has honored that prayer. I can relate to your date of the 17 th., not wanting anyone to contact you on that day. I had a few years of seventeens to undergo. But He was there with me through them all. And it does get better. Some accuse us of being hbitter simply because we are brave enough to talk about our pain. But bitter? No! Honest and forgiving? Yes! So the accusation of ‘bitter’ is just an empty headed arrogant snap judgement, coming from people who don’t understand human suffering, and may be rather in a lot of denial about their own personal pain and suffering as well. It takes courage to face our pain, and courage to reach out to God and others for healing and support in our healing journey. I believe He’s makingall of us wounded healers, into, servants with servant’s hearts, and shepherds with true shepherd’s hearts. Barbara

    1. the accusation of ‘bitter’ is just an empty headed arrogant snap judgement, coming from people who don’t understand human suffering, and may be rather in a lot of denial about their own personal pain and suffering as well.

      Thanks for that especially. That really, really clarifies a few things for me. It is denial. It is projecting. You’re exactly right.

      I appreciate you, Barbara. <3

      1. Just reading this thread again. First time I realized you responded to my reply. Sorry if my long response took so long. Had my eyes checked and ‘dab-dropped’ today at the Opthamologist’s office. , so couldn’t do the work I had planned to for several hours. So frustrating! I decided to enjoy these threads some more. It ‘is’ rather ‘curious’ how these impulsively judgemental folk have this persistent habit of using the word ‘bitter’,whenever they take offense at something. Like we have expressed a personal difficulty, have a different opinion, appear to be suffering about something, have some struggle in our life, and we ‘talk about it’! So we must be ‘bitter’??? Simply because we just opened our mouth and talked about a problem. We said something that they ‘disapproved of.’ And then they have used this word in such an accusatory manner! Like whenever they want to do this to us, an ‘this is ‘what’ YOU’VE GOT finger -pointing kind of thing, which conveniently gets the focus off ‘them’ and deflects attention and their responsibility to respect and listen, off of themslves, and onto ‘us’, ‘out’ comes this over-used word, ‘you’re bitter!’ It’s a turning the tables manipulation mind-game play which manipulators are clever at doing. The problem being that we don’t know that this is being done to us, not until ‘after’ we leave a peculiar meeting or a strange exchange, that we realize later was ‘off the wall’ bizarre! A phrase comes to mind which I call ‘crazy time’! The confusion that we experience in our feelings, emotions and thinking, is ‘not our imagination!’ It’s ‘so easy’ for people to do this to others! To pass out a snap- judgement. Because when people do that, they really do not have to take the time to think about what they are doing. They just go automatic pilot, and, ‘play God’ Why not, sinc they think and believe they really do, know ‘everything. But we ‘know’ what it feels like to be treated like this, so we go to God and seek his grace to show us how to be different in a truly christian way. The snap-judgement really can be like the mindless, thoughtless playing of ‘an automated knee-jerk reaction’. and this mantra of accusing someone, of being ‘bitter’ is a religious broken record. Like chalk going up the blackboard the wrong way. Screeeeetch! I’m an elementary school supply teacher So I ‘know’ what that sounds like. SCreeetch! Out comes that ‘bitter mantra!’ So if someone accuses you or I of being bitter, we had “Better deal with it ‘now’ or God’ll ‘get’ us, kind of thing. Camille, I am SO glad God ‘got me’ and ‘ the getters’ didn’t! The ‘getters’ got me going, ”I got going, and then I moved on. Whenever God has ‘got me’ it has always been for my protection, encouragement, betterment, and liberation,’ ‘never’ for my presumed by others ‘necessary’ punishment! There is so much ‘repressed anger’ in the hurting lives of people who throw out this ‘negative mantra’ accusation of ‘bitter’. I have come to better realize, understand, and respect , that anger is ‘a condition’ , ‘not’ a sin. An ‘intent’ to ‘hurt someone with anger, along wth a selfish attitude behind such an intent, is the temptation that some people do give in to. Some have a selfish condition of bad attitude and bad intent, which leads them to the ‘action’ which is the sin. In such a way, whenever they ‘feel’angry about something, they ‘need’ to find someone to ‘blame’ for it, someone to ‘punish’. And feelings of anger from having been ‘provoked’ is a normal human effect of ‘another person’s selfish behaviour’! ‘This’ is the big dilemma in environments populated by people who are ’emotionally illiterate’, who do not understand the importance of ‘what’ human feelings and emotions are about, ‘why’ we have them, ‘why’ God created them, and ‘how’ He has given ‘us’ a responsibility to learn about them and help others when we can. Environments populated by people who have been taught to ‘supress’ their feelings and emotions, are environments in which people really do not know ‘how’ to live, relate, socialize, communicate, interrelate in good positive ,healthy, appropriate ways. Supression of our humanity leads to depression, anger, turning some individuals into ’emotional walking time bombs’. ‘Processing’ it, processing anger, by acknowledging it, respecting the power that it has, to do good when respected , self-controlled,self- managed and self-disciplined, or to do ‘not good’ , if anger is misused,misapplied, misdirected, dumped or projected onto unfortunate human targets…. when we really learn to respect this human emotion, we position ourselves to really ‘be taught of the Lord with true wisdom and common sense’. And common sense isn’t that common. Actually in my expreience ‘bitter’ has not been the mantra used to try to get me to feel guilty bad or wrong or out og God;s will. The words used in my environment has been ‘have you forgiven?’ And people have used that, to get me to stop talking about anything that they don’t want to listen to. Why? Because they would rather judge than listen! the ‘have you frogiven’ come back is a common manipulation to get people to ‘shut up’ ‘stop talking’ about somethig, and to ‘shut dpwn’ any doscussion. also it is an indocation that, such people ‘do not like talking’ about anyone else’s pain, suffering, struggles, or feelings and emotions. If someone shares with me how someone else has really been ‘getting to them’, I don’t judge, and make an impulsive ‘God wants His pound of flesh’ statement, which He ‘doesn’t’ by the way! He wants us to be ‘real’. That wonderful magic word called honesty. I try to respond with some empathy, and show them that I know what that feels like to be bothered and irritated by someone else’s behaviour. If a person ‘needs’ to forgive, ‘that’s a matter between themselves and the Lord.

  11. I had the opportunity to read your and your husband’s blogs on BJU and Heritage. We attended Heritage for seven years. As we are NOT BJU graduates, we and others like us were treated like spiritual lepers. It is a shame that Danny seems to have given in the mobsters at BJU, but threats, intimidation, innuendo and other such tricks worthy of Satan rule the day there. We left after one Sunday when we heard from the lips of a Sunday School teacher words that would make the Pharisees blush. With a loud voice, I said that we would never come back, and we have honored our word. We left before they completely destroyed our joy in Christ, but the damage has been done.

    1. I’m so sorry, Buzz. I really am. It hurts. And it hurts deep.

      It makes Jesus’ rage against the money-changers all that much more realistic.

      1. Thanks for your kind words, Doc. We are still numb after eight months, but we have begun the search for a new spiritual home. We will be a bit more discerning and less engaging this time. My wife and I discussed our leaving Heritage this weekend and indeed it opened new wounds from the lashes of the Pharisees. I was treated as stupid the entire time I was there, despite holding four college degrees (one a PhD) and a position as a professor at two of the top-rated universities in the country. My wife was treated likewise, despite her both impressive work and her sweet and modest demeanor. I guess we were a tad too ignorant for them, but we are wiser now.

        1. Numb. Numb is about right. I’m sorry. That stinks.

          And I think they treat smart people especially bad. I dunno. . . .

    2. Dear Buzz, just read your response to thread. God has been ‘so good to you’ ( He really ‘is’ the kindest person in the Universe!) and your wonderful wife and family,to have shown you the best way to go at the time was OUT , out. And you are practicing good wisdom and common sense, to protect those important people in your life, by being wise and discerning as to ‘where to re connect’ with a christian fellowship. It may be necessary for you to take time to de tox from your previous environment, long enough, ‘before’ it will be safe to re connect with another fellowship. As soon as certain words were spoken by said S.S. teacher, ( religious SS? ) the last straw, the straw that broke the camel’s back, ‘strike three’ and they were OUT’ took place in your mind and thinking, right before your eyes. The right decision made at the time, however,provided you and your family with the immediate protection from that dreadful toxic unhealthy environment that you got your family out of so quickly. But ‘physical separation’ from that toxic environment, was not an immediate separation from the pain of all that betrayal, rejection ,and overwhelming sense of feeling so ‘used, exploited and dishonored’, by people to whom you and your wife, had freely given genuine gifts of love, respect and trust. That pain takes considerable time, in what I call ‘real time’ to heal. I believe, re such previous religious environments, that we really, sincerely tried, to practice genuine, authentic,christian patience, along with sincere charity, while believing the ‘best of others’. And that by God’s Grace, we did this , for a season. Why? Because we are basically ‘good people!’ And we have ‘never ceased’ to be good people. But when our tolerance level of patience, was ‘outrageously breached’, by the arrogance, the contempt, the insolence,the selfishness, and the deliberate , intentional humiliation of us, assailing and harassing our personal lives,from this ungodly superior attitude coming from others, ( the problem with superiority in attitude, is that people are going to be ‘seen and looked down upon’ as inferior! Within such an attitude and mindset, the beliefs thinking and behaviour can be no less than UNchristian, and no more than bordering on hateful! One definfintion of hate is intense dislike ) from such an artificial pretense of ‘positional authority’. When those ‘last straw’ words are spouted off , or that one last ‘put down insult’ ,comes against us, God expects nothing less from us, than to take a personal, self-protecting instant reality check, that ‘this isn’t’ feeling good! This isn’t doing my wife or my family ‘any’ good. This place is hostile territory. Jesus is not in this. And we ‘vote with our heart and with our feet’ and we WALK OUT. Can’t remember how long it took for ‘my numbness’ to leave when I got out. Will have to look at my old journals. I just know that it took some time. The Lord is always faithful in showing us, how tolet Him heal all that damage that was done to us. I believe the evil one takes advantage of our ‘zeal’ to follow, serve and obey God’, by our unknowingly misplacing and giving a level of loyalty and obedience ‘to man’, that really only belongs to God. What I mean by that is, we can so easily confuse the two levels of authority, “God’s’, with ‘The man in the pulpit’, as well as ‘people in positions of service’ in the church, as being of ‘a higher level’ of authority than they really ‘are.’ The men in the puplit, the people in areas of church service, are ‘mere men’. But they ‘forget’ that they are ‘mere men’! They ‘forget’ that they are the same weak, human creautres such as ourselves, ( I do not say this in a demeaning way ) with the same spiritual need of a Savior as the rest of us have. And as soon as such persons who have inner / unknown ( such serious,self-deception from blind ignorance about their own human condition , weaknesses, can ‘never’ be considered a good thing, or a blessing, ever! ) conditions of, ‘immaturity, insecurity, hidden, supressed feelings of inferiority, such people getting into positions of service, leadership, pulpit-control ‘ministry’, and authority, what such people ‘see and perceive’ as authority, ( authority being that which they do not understand anyway ) which they see and look upon, not as ‘true loving humble and obedient service for God unto others’, but as a false and ungodly’entitlement right’, ‘false rights’, unlawful rights, for power to ‘wield’ over people. And to do that, with an ‘entitlement- false- right’ of ‘demanding honor’ from others! This simply ‘awful’ bad spirit, of demanding honor from people,is the ugly finger print of ‘authoritarianism in ‘authoritarian leadership’. Those occupying such presumptuous self-appointed ‘ positions of ‘ wev’e got all the rights’ therefore we’ve also ‘got all the power’ ANSWER TO NO ONE BUT THEMSELVES! The natural conclusion of such dreadful deception, is such that, such misguided people in leadership, really believe, that ‘they can do no wrong, make no mistakes, and therefore, never have a need to be ‘called to account’ for ANY of their practices and behaviour, regardless of how UNchristian, UNchrist and overtly dstructive and anti-social it is! The social bheavoral practice, of honoring someone, of giving honor to someone, must always be practiced with one’s free will, ‘never’ as an outcome of someone else’s ‘demand / co ercion’ imposition, opposition of our free will or intimidation! The sinful practice of intimidation in the Church goes on so frequently unrecognized, by so many of us, because many of us do not adequately understand that there is a big, big difference, between the fear of God and the fear of man! Intimidation ‘opens people up to fear.’ NEVER to the fear of God, but to the fear of man. Psalm 19: “The fear of God is undefiled.” This verse implies that, the fear of man is ‘not of a pure or clean dynamic’ “James 4: “Pure religion and undefiled with the world, is this…” The word ‘world’ here, refers to the ways, and standards of the sinful,unbelieving world, ( not to humanity of people God so loves, as God loves people, not what people do that is bad and wrong ) whose
      sin’ is unbelief, “that there is no God;”; and whose ‘greed’ is “the lust for power over other people.” When we first get ‘out of the group’, we have wisely separated urselves from both the ‘physical’ and the ‘spiritual’ environment. What takes some time, after that, is to ‘get the group out of us.’I do find that continual renewal of forgiveness, empowers me to stay focussed in my personal healing journey, and prtect my inner life from the damge f esentment and uforgiveness. remeber that feelings of resentment, frustration, and sidcouragemnt, devastation, etc., these feelings are ‘not sin.’Acknowledge the felings. respect the feelings. And continue to love, accept and respect yourself. The reality and fact that we can renew our forgiveness, as we freely choose to, with GOD’S GRACE, and that there are Levels of forgivenessness, IN WHICH WE CAN GROW AND HEAL, is no suggestion that ‘forgiveness has ‘not already’ been given. But for our own protection and the protection of our loved ones, from all further abuse, we give forgiveness for what others have done to us, In Jesus name, directly to God, as our offering of obedience. If we go to our abusers to tell them that we forgive them, we risk further attack. Remember we are dealing with ‘religious manipulators’ who have been on a power trip that few have any intention of getting off. Their pesonal spiritual train is ‘off the tracks’ of any true christianity. Their train is tearing up the grass beside the tracks. And they are on a ‘divide and conquer’ binge. And as far as their personal spiritual lives and church relationships are concerned, their lives are ‘out of control’, they’re ‘running in a wrong direction’, and their train isn’t even ‘on’ the right tracks, as far as God’s will for their lives is concerned. Their lives are being controlled by ‘a lawless spirit.’ We must not directly give blatantly abusive people, our free gift of forgiveness in person! Because, remember, they ‘don’t’ think or believe,they have done anything wrong, have a problem, and they will be in ‘total dis- belief’, that they will have any need to be forgiven for ‘anything’. We can ‘get out of the group’ right away. God will Grace us with the power to ‘get the group out of us’. I pray that your numbness will soon lift off. I thank God for His loving protection over your precious family. I believe you will, soon ‘be’ and ‘even feel’, as free as a bird. Because the Person of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Grace , the Spirit of Truth, will be with you, empowering you in your healing journey,along with your precious spouse, every step of the way. God bless.

  12. Someone in a previous reply on a different Ebenezer thread, mentioned that “Southside’ had left the BJU orbit. I looked “Southside’ up on the internet, and discovered the online description of their ‘BJU- influence – free’ warm, friendly,positive ministry of ‘real’ christianity in their church, to their members, and to the community outside their church walls, as ‘refreshingly attractive.’ To break free from BJU orbit, leaders must have had to ‘let go’ of at least three common fears: fear of ‘loss of members’ , ‘fear of loss of ‘finances’: giving offering, tithing envelopes, and fear of ‘ the loss of reputation’ along with loss of the ‘praises of men’! I think that third fear, may be the one that church pastors and leaders have the greatest difficulty with. No one likes to be thought of, or looked upon, or gossiped about as, ‘disloyal’ to the cause of Christ,in doctrinal error, disloyal to the Gospel, or accused of turning their back on the ‘fundamentals’ ,fundamentals which turn out to be ‘sacred cows’ anyway, as most of christendom all believe 90 % of the same things which ‘doctrinally speaking’ describes them as ‘christian’. The fact that they ‘do or don’t act’ like christians, is another matter altogether. As doctrinal purity has ‘never’ been a spiritual guarantee of heart motive purity, or the practice of genuine christian virtues! Doctrinal purity didn’t do the Pharisees any good, did it! But these brave pastors and leaders, along with loyal members who supported them, in their exodus from BJU orbit….. God must have put a ‘spirit of David’ on them, corporately, for them to CARE LESS ( yes!!!!! ) what the ‘religious Goliath with no teeth, only intimidating bark,and full of hot air BJ 3’ could try to ‘do to them such as by his well known reputation, ‘just like daddy and grampy!’ of threatenings of blacklisting pastors and members in the broader Greeneville burg.!’ The only ‘friends’or ‘members’ they might have ‘lost’ would ‘not’ be able to understand the importance of building their new community fellowship, on a right foundation, so rad A church feloowship formed on the love, mercy, grace, and compassion of Jesus Christ, His real Gospel, the truth that sets people free, would be the opposite of, the former BJU IFB systematic phariseism influence. But, knowing how God can change the hearts of men who are ‘really’ following Him, ( authentic relationship: genuine love, sincere obedience ‘from the heart’TO God, manifested in loving acceptance with respect TO people ) people who wouldn’t join the exodus earlier, if they came back and re joined later, I bet these Southside folk, would just accept them, love them, and rejoice, that ‘they’ were now ‘free too!’ Because there’s just something so awesome about truly ‘Grace touched people’. They love to see other people find Grace to. In fact, they can’t wait to share this with them! Because they ‘know’ how much their having been been so ‘wonderfully touched by real Grace’, has meant to them. When we re experience the ‘real thing’, real Grace, upon our exodus from bondage to religion,from painful former association with toxic environments, where negative people had expended so much energy trying to drain all the good things out of our lives, and replace them with all those false substitutes, and we reconnect with the God of Grace,we become ‘free agents’….. the ‘last thing’ we would ever want to do to another pilgrim,, would be to to ‘steal’ their peace,their joy, or their happiness from them. So Southside ‘left the BJU orbit. And they have discovered that, it’s not a sin to be happy, free and be whoever God called and created them to be. God cut the puppet strings, from Bob 3, the religious puppet master. Oh how I look forward to hearing about the testimonies of more and more churches breaking free from that man’s and that place’s awful influence, of eligious mobster control! I wonder if “Southside” may be something of a ‘prophetic symbol’ to the Greeneville area and beyond,of how dynamic, Grace filled, and fulfilling, church life is like and can become , when God’s kids stand up and say NO to people who have no right to be dictating God’s will to them anyway! And never did in the first place! And these courageous christians start saying ‘yes’ to their ‘real’ Father! God! And trust HIM, to lead them into the lush,greener pastures of ‘real christianity!’ CS Lewis’s ‘Real Christianity’ by the way, is a ‘ very good read.! You can down load it on an iPod, or read the book. A great read! I really enjoyed writing this. Hope it encourages someone.

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