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

Let’s Talk About “Marriage Intensives”

1Jn 2:27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1Th 4:9  Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 

Recently I received an announcement from Focus on the Family about something they call “Hope Restored – A Marriage Intensive Experience.” The email had a some pictures attached. One was of a woman looking forlorn and having the caption “Do you feel alone in your marriage?” A second picture was of her and her husband lovingly embracing one another, this time with the captions: “There’s still hope for your marriage. A counseling retreat to help your marriage survive and thrive.”

I regularly receive accounts from victims of a domestic abuser spouse that include in their story something like this – “Our church told me that we needed to go to a marriage intensive. So we did. We spent three days there. I was told that I needed to…. After we got home, nothing changed except the abuse got worse.”

Is there a place for marriage counseling at all? Yes, but not for cases of domestic abuse. Furthermore, I suggest to you that even in cases where marriage counseling is appropriate, the substance of the counseling is worthless. It is not the message of the Word of God. It never addresses the real issue of “are you really born again.”

Let me be even more direct. Any notion that you can take people and run them through some exercises dreamed up by someone, instruct them in curriculum written by a supposed marriage expert and after one or two or three days of this, miraculously effect a transformation of some kind, is a flight of fancy. It is fiction. Especially if the whole business is wrapped up in a claim to be “Christian.”

Look again at the verses quoted above. Who is it that is taught by God? Every real Christian. What is it that the Lord teaches each one of His people? To love one another. And this is where any true Christian counseling must begin. Who are you? Are you really born again? You do not appear to be loving your spouse? Why is that? No one should have to be teaching you this if you are really born again.

Heb 8:10-11 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (11) And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.

But you are not going to hear this at these “intensives.” They are instead going to proceed on the assumption that the counselees are Christians and then they are going to run them through their fix-it mill and effect, by human effort and works, a marriage that has a fairy tale ending “they all lived happily ever after…because they went to the marriage intensive.”

And in the case of an abuser…he will have been intensively provided with much more ammunition to use on his victim.

Thank You to Carma for this Term: Toxic Positivity

Jer 37:19 Where are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will not come against you and against this land’?

In our current sermon series on the book of Jeremiah, we meet large numbers of false prophets who claimed to speak for the Lord. Their message was the exact opposite of Jeremiah’s. According to them, there was no way that God would ever hand Jerusalem over to the Babylonians. “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord,” was their motto. “We are His covenant people. His temple is right here in this city. He will bless us and bless us no matter what.”

These were lies of course, and when the Babylonian armies laid seige to Jerusalem, Jeremiah asked King Zedekiah…”where are your prophets now?” They were nowhere to be found. Their message was a lie and as such, it was poison. Toxic. Deadly. Jerusalem and the temple were in fact destroyed, the people slaughtered, and others carried off to captivity. All because they refused to love the truth spoken by the Lord through His true prophet.

Recently, a lady named Carma wrote a comment on a short post I put on Facebook. I was writing about how the “glass-is-always-half-full” philosophy is so destructive. It refuses to see evil. It twists everything into positivism – and excuses evil. It always sees the “good” that surely must be lurking somewhere in the most wicked person. Carma said that she gave this kind of thinking a name – “toxic positivism.” This nails it and I thank her for it. Toxic positivism.

This is the kind of garbage that is laid on abuse victims in their churches so typically. “Your husband just needs understanding. He is really a good person. He isn’t perfect, but we must see the good in him and be patient.” Here is Carma’s description:

It’s a term I made up out of observations, and realize it is a form of denial, saying positive affirmations for example, with the belief it will make everything better. I used to say, “I’ll be a better wife tomorrow.” “I’ll make him happy tomorrow.” “I’m going to be the best wife ever because I’m a hard worker,” etc., every night before bed. It kept me holding onto the hope that God would move in the ex husband’s heart, and soften it. All the positive words I said didn’t change the situation or him. Toxic positivity is a thing, even with PTSD,…think positive thoughts and it will go away. This is similar to toxic faith, if you prayed more you wouldn’t have cancer. I’ve seen people in palitive care dying, and their loved ones still in denial saying “think positive thoughts and you will rally. We know it. You can beat cancer.”

Toxic positivism is poison. It is deadly. It enables the wicked. It energizes evil. It denies the truth of God’s Word as it denies reality. It shuts down victims when they seek help – “well, let’s see the sunny side in all of this. Let’s turn to a brighter note.” And then it just blows off the grief and pain of the victim. Toxic Positive people are toxic. To themselves and others. They actually embrace a false gospel. They deny the wickedness of the human heart. It was Toxic Positivism that largely led to World War 2 in Europe. The allies refused to see the evil in Hitler, even though the evidence was right in front of their eyes and it nearly destroyed them and it did destroy millions of others.

I have found that Toxic Positive people do not like the plain and truthful teaching of God’s Word. Why? Because the Bible shocks and threatens their toxic philosophy. The Bible talks about evil all the time. Jesus told the wicked they are children of the devil. God announces His judgment upon the wicked He exposes. Wisdom books like Proverbs would be gutted if a Toxic Positive person edited them. Which is exactly what is happening week after week in the churches. Scripture is gutted by their red pens of unbelief.

Jerusalem came down. And this present world is coming down. The wicked are headed for judgment and hell. Each one will give account to Christ and He isn’t going to buy their Toxic positivism-

Mat 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (22) On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ (23) And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’