Fruitless Searches for a Church, and Our Online Outreach

Frequently I receive emails from Christians, most of whom have been or are being abused by an evil spouse and further oppressed by their churches for daring to expose the abuse and request justice…I receive emails from them in which in part of their story (by the way, I never tire of hearing your stories and you don’t need to apologize for them being long), includes their fruitless searching for a sound local church where Christ’s Word is genuinely taught and practiced. A church where the pastor and people are born again and really do love one another. A church where, well, where this is happening:

Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

And so they look. They try. They get their hopes up and then Wham! There it is. The same old, same old, yada, yada teaching about how God loves everyone the same, how we are to love everyone the same, how all of us are sinners just like our abusers, how marriage and divorce are…., and you know how to complete that sentence. They find themselves traumatized once again, they get in the train wreck over and over, the fog of confusion grows thick once more, and the search goes on.

I can tell you that people like this search for YEARS and keep coming up empty for the most part. Once in a great while they will succeed and find the real remnant flock, but increasingly it seems that the odds of that are growing to the same as winning megabucks.

Recently I wrote a response to just such a person – a searcher – who had found our online outreach. One of you suggested that I post it here as a blog article as it may help others as well. So, here it is and I hope that it does help-

Dear ________:

I was thinking about what you said regarding the corrupt state of the churches today and how in your area there is a church on every street corner, but they are all just counterfeits. I can assure you that your analysis is quite accurate. I don’t say this so I can be self-righteous or because I am one of the types who just loves to run down other ministries and claim that I am “the only one” who has it right. I have seen those kind before and I never want to be like that.

But the truth of the matter is that the churches for the most part with rare exception are exactly as you describe. Over the years I have corresponded with people who have found my books or our blogs and livestreams of sermons and Bible studies, and they report exactly what you are saying. They looked and they looked and they looked. They tried and tried and tried…to find a sound church. Some of them even moved to other areas, and one in particular went to your area looking. Always the same. Usually sooner than later, their hopes were dashed as they realized the preaching and teaching was fluff. It was not sound, solid biblical truth taught AND applied. Sin was tolerated in the church. The pastor and other leaders really didn’t care about the people. When real truth was spoken, the person was shut down – it was too much of a threat to the system. And so these people moved on in their search.


One friend of mine in another state went through all of this. She was even a counselor on staff at a large church. But eventually they fired her for exposing wicked abusers sitting right in the pews and calling for them to confront that sin. They refused and they fired her. So she kept looking for a church. One after another. And then she wrote to me and said “I have been looking and looking, and it suddenly hit me – I have a church and a pastor.” And by that she meant us and our online outreach to the people of Christ who have been scattered by wolves. She plugged in as a member of our body online, follows the services and the Bible studies, communicates with me to share her questions and comments, and she is doing great. 


My purpose in writing all this to you is to encourage you by sharing with you that you could move to a new place (but as you say, you have no idea where), you could keep looking in those brick buildings on every corner for the real thing, in the end the common experience of the real Christians I know is – you are going to come up empty. At best what you are going to find, unless you happen to be as lucky as a lottery winner! – is shallowness and superficiality. Trite teachings that please the unregenerate person in the pews. God loves everyone the same. All of us are sinners just the same. God knows we aren’t perfect and He forgives us. We need to always forgive and reconcile with others. Salvation is easy. Most everyone who says they are a Christian is. And on and on it goes.

One person put it like this: “After listening to your sermons and Bible studies over the past few months I’ve realized that I have had no in depth teaching in the church I was in. Even the small groups I have been in there over the years have felt like the person leading was unqualified or it was nothing more than the nonsense of collecting everyone’s thoughts on verses – “what does that verse mean to me” – and it was useless.”

And this matter of no in depth preaching of the Word is not just a matter of shallowness in objective doctrine. No. It creates an environment where evil can take root, grow, parade as light, and attack the sheep. I see the online outreach to people like yourself as a valid, real, church. A ministry to the people of Christ who are scattered. We have been joined by wonderful people whose faith is real in Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, California, Michigan, Oregon, Scotland, the Netherlands, and more. And they love it.  They  communicate with me and in some cases now with one another. 
I write all of this just to encourage you and to let you know that you are very welcome to be a part of Christ’s church through these means without having to wear yourself out looking and being disappointed or hurt over and over again.

All you need do to join us is to let me know. If you are a real Christian who loves the Lord and yearns to know Him better and to obey Him better, then you are welcome.

Blessings in Christ,

Jeff

Hezekiah’s Prayer as a Model for Us

Our friend Lynn, who has experienced intense abuse at the hands of those who should have loved her, tailored the prayer of Hezekiah [2 Kings 19:14-19] for her situation and thought it might also be a good help for others to fit to their own experience. You will notice that it is a prayer that many if not most pastors and church members would reject as being “harsh, unforgiving, unkind, bitter….” yada, yada. But here’s what trips those people up – it is drawn right from Scripture.

So, here it is:

“Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see the great [physical, psychological, sexual, mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual] burden placed upon me by the words and actions of these wicked men and/or women – [insert name or names of those who abused you] – all who profess know you, follow you, and speak for you; listen to the vile, manipulative, fraudulent words they have spoken to me in your name. Their words and abusive actions continually profane your holy name making it a mockery in the world. Let the stench of their sin intensify in your presence to the point where your anger is kindled and you take action against them.

Repay each one of them for the evil they have inflicted upon me and bring about their swift destruction, so that no one else may be harmed in the way they’ve harmed me. Strike fear into their hearts so that they are paralyzed by it. Torment their minds to the point where the only way they will get relief is to restore all that they have stolen and destroyed in my life. Let their relationships crumble and have no one trust them, not even family. Place an unseen mark on them that others will sense and know to stay away from. Have their resources dry up so that they have to struggle and toil to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Inflict their bodies and minds with diseases that will mimic all the physical and emotional pain they’ve inflicted on me and their other victims that doctors cannot provide relief for or healing for. Let them experience the [list the specific ailments you have or are experiencing. E.g. PTSD, anxiety, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chronic inflammation and fatigue, brain fog, and poor quality sleep] every day of their lives until they genuinely repent of their sin to you and make full restitution to me. 

Withhold your blessing from them and magnify the curses their actions deserve until they genuinely repent of their wickedness and they are willing to offer full restitution to me for the [say the specific harm inflicted on you – E.g. physical, mental, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial and/or spiritual] harm they have inflicted on me. If they will not repent, then continue to inflict the punishment their wickedness requires until you bring about their just end O Lord. 

Now, Lord my God, deliver me from the after effects of their wickedness. I humbly ask that you restore to me all that was stolen, damaged or destroyed – be it [ insert what you lost or was destroyed here.  E.g. finances, property, relationships, self-confidence, payment for past work, health, everything…] – as a sign of your faithful love to me, like you did with your servant Job, and so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God. To You be all the glory, honor and praise.

Amen.

Wising Up to the Abuser’s “Christian” Facade

2Th 3:1-2  Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.

Wicked and evil men. We need to be delivered from them. But who are they? What do they look like? Who did Paul have in mind here?

He was thinking of wicked and evil people who claim to be Christians.

I have been thinking recently of the many battles we have had over the years with wicked and evil men (and women) who crept in among the flock of Christ, wearing a disguise of wool. Their evil deeds opposed the ministry of Christ in many devious ways. That is what Paul speaks of here – pray that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, but we know that it is going to be opposed by wicked and evil men.

How do we know that these enemies Paul speaks of were professing Christians? Well, because of that little phrase at the end of verse 2 – “For not all have faith.” Think about it. It’s a no-brainer that unsaved people do not have faith. No one expects them to. If Paul’s phrase here was just him saying “by the way, not all human beings have faith, you know,” it would elicit a kind of “duh, no kidding” response from us.  The Apostle surely did not mean that. What he does mean is, these wicked and evil men who oppose the progress of the gospel claim to be believers in Christ, but they are not. We must recognize, he is telling us, that not all Christians are. Not everyone in our churches is a Christian. Not everyone who looks like such an eminent saint of God really is.

And the frightening thing about this is that what seems to be the prevailing climate in most churches today is that it is an unpardonable sin to ever question someone’s claim of belonging to Christ. The order of the day appears to be – “if someone says they are a Christian then we are bound to assume they are and never question the reality of their profession.” Where does that thinking come from? Not from the Bible, that’s for sure.

Notice also what Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for in his regard. Deliverance.

That Paul and his comrades would be delivered from these wicked, evil men who are parading as Christians, infiltrating the churches, duping people with their flattery and false doctrine. We all need deliverance from these kinds of people.

Do you think that there are no wicked, evil men parading as Christians in your church?

Think again. Pull out your Bible, go the the New Testament for starters, and start skimming along through it beginning at Matthew 1. Every time you come to a verse or section that is addressing wicked, evil people under the disguise of religion, opposing the gospel and creeping into churches to mislead and enslave, use a highlighter on those verses. When you are done, sit back and look at what you see. Virtually every page of the New Testament will have your highlighter yellow on it.

Which leaves us with a sobering and searching question: why are most professing Christians ignorant of such a prevalent warning in God’s Word? Why is it that wicked, evil people like abusers can hide so easily in and be enabled by local churches? This question always leaves me shaking my head in amazement. I can only think it is because

  1. Many local churches are filled with unregenerate people who do not have faith and thus lack the discernment of the Holy Spirit
  2. Many professing Christians don’t want to get into the battle with evil because it will cost them too much
  3. God’s Word has been so dumbed down in our pulpits that the people of Christ are dangerously naive about the enemy and his tactics.

You might be able to suggest more reasons.

Not all “Christians” have faith. Not all “Christians” are Christians, but are in fact wicked, evil people come in among us with the purpose of opposing the gospel of Christ and the freedom that Jesus has won for us. We need deliverance from them, and that deliverance begins with opening up our Bibles, BELIEVING what God says, and maturing in Christ so that we can discern good from evil. Let’s wise up to the abuser’s facade.