Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Cinderella Story

This story was written as the result of a personal experience with the LHMM. We share it with hopes that it might impact you as an allegory...

Once there was a girl who worked hard to be good in the house of the Lord. She worked long hours to be pleasing to her master the King (Jesus) and her step-parent (the LHMM). Her step-parent gave her a long list of duties. Working as diligently as she could, she always felt lacking, thinking that if she could just do more, she could be more pleasing to her masters.

The step-parent told her she could never go to the ball (heaven) or enjoy the finer things of the kingdom such as the Holy Spirit, for they were not meant for her. She had been born at the wrong time to enjoy such pleasures. It would be arrogant of her to presume she could partake in such joys as wedding feasts or ever going to a ball. As to her education, the Bible was a good book for her to read, but she should not expect to understand it on her own and should never use it like a textbook. It was written for royalty, not her. She could take application to some nice promises, but they were not written directly for her, only for royalty. All she needed to know would be provided by the step-parent. He had even written special books for her. She must trust him to teach her all the truths she needed. The step-parent warned that there were many false teachers outside their home who could not be trusted. He cautioned that the kingdom was filled with lost misinformed people and even liars that wanted to steal her away from this the only home she had ever known. His warnings frightened the girl into submission. She tried so hard to be obedient and pleasing to her two masters—the step-parent and the King of the kingdom.

One day a messenger from the King told the girl that the King wanted her to come to the ball and to enjoy all the palace had to offer. The girl could hardly believe it! “Who me? The King wants me to come to the palace?! Is it ok, is it really ok?” her thoughts swirled. It would mean leaving the home of her step-parent who had provided her basic necessities and her education. If she went to the palace, it would mean acknowledging that the step-parent was wrong and did not have all the truth. The girl knew one thing in her heart, that she loved King Jesus more than any other master. She felt sincerity and urgency in the invitation that drew her with magnetic force to the palace.

The King rejoiced when she arrived, opened wide his arms, and gave her a big hug exclaiming, “I love you! You are welcome here. Know that you are my daughter.” He was so delighted that she had come that he burst into singing a beautiful song of praise over her (Zeph. 3:17). The girl had never before felt such warmth, such love, such power--that made her feel clean from her head to her toes. He gave her beautiful new clothes to wear. In fact everything she possessed was brand new, because now she was a princess of the King! He said, “The Bible is my love letter written for you. I give you the Holy Spirit as a ring for you to feel on your finger and know that you are mine.”

It took the girl a long time to fully believe this, even though she wanted to believe. “Enjoy the ball, dance with me, dance with all the other princesses.” the King urged. The girl, now a princess tried to dance, but she felt self-conscious; worried others would realize that she was a new-comer. What if they asked about her past? How could she explain the old life and lies with her step-parent that now seemed so foolish? She wanted to dance, but sometimes she also wanted to run and hide.

It was only as the new princess spent intimate time close to her only Master, the King that she learned to relax, to dance, to enjoy the ball. She shared all her fears and worries with her King. He patiently listened and quieted her, melting all her fears away and filling her with the confidence and grace of a princess. “Come to the ball, my princess, my daughter” were the words now etched on her heart.

This is no fairy tale; this is my journey of deliverance from spiritual bondage.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spiritual Leadership

The Present Truth article from Autumn 2007 has little practical value to most Christians. After reading it I was put out about the nature, tone, and content of the article. It is very sad and a symptom of an unhealthy organization.

One would do well to read a book about spiritual abuse. The article briefly outlines several cases of abuse. The main thrust of the article is to prove that Ralph Herzig is the rightful leader of the LHMM.

The article states in the conclusion: "We are all aware, that God, in the past, has always selected the Leader of His people prior to the election by the brethren for the Executive Trustee."

It is presumptuous and prideful to say that "God's people" are those that are in the LHMM. There are many true followers of Christ that are not in the LHMM and never were. Also, most people are NOT aware of this "arrangement" which is in no ways Biblical. In the past God has chosen a leader for His people in many ways. Think about a few examples: Solomon, David, Moses, Gideon, Paul, etc. I don't think that Jesus was voted in either...and he truly was a leader of God's people.

The fruits of spiritual leadership in the LHMM are evident. As numbers dwindle and people split into smaller and smaller groups over small matters of doctrine which cannot for the most part be proven Biblical, we see it is a symptom of the larger problem and issue. The Gospel of the LHMM is so complex that it can barely be explained to a newcomer. This is not what God intended. Following God is an act of humility and accepting His gift of life. Then the Christ follower should attempt to live a life that is pleasing to God.

Running around in doctrinal arguments as is done in the LHMM is so pointless that in some ways I feel guilty to waste my time writing this. There is so much important work to be done for God. What about the Biblical mandates to "help the poor, etc."? The LHMM has no interest in work towards the needy. They use the excuse that "the end times are coming" and "we can't fix the problems of the world". God didn't tell us to give up. Maybe we can't fix the world...but we are commanded to try.

For the last 10 years I have been free of the LHMM and their "arrangements" which were created to maintain power at the top. During that time I have grown closer to God than ever more and learned truly practical and relevent Bible teaching from some great leaders that God has put on earth. None of these leaders spend time arguing about their leadership authority. People follow them because their teaching is Biblical and their lives have been transformed by God's Word and application in their lives.

I pray for a time when those that are under the bondage of the LHMM are set free to worship God in a manner that is more healthy and beneficial.

Harsh Words for Those Leaving the Group

The latest issue of the Bible Standard magazine July/August 2010 contains some harsh words for those that have left their group.

On page 57 in the top right column it says, “It is for this reason that those who once were in, but then go out from, the light of Present Truth, can think, and say, and do, more mean and contemptible things than can the worldly that still retain helps to order and decency by having in mind what their fellows in life would think of their course, their words and conduct.”

The article presents two options for people: being "in the light" of their truth and remaining loyal to it or "being in outer darkness" for having left that truth or not being in contact and understanding it as they do.

On page 57, column 1, paragraph 1, it states: “It is rather for us to show our obedience to the Lord, to demonstrate our love for Him with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength, by acquiescing to the Divine arrangements and judgments”. In this case they mean "the Truth and its arrangements" as defined by their group or their leader. Anyone who disagrees with the present establishment is going against "the arrangements".

The article identifies those in darkness as those who have left the “present truth”. Page 56, paragraph 3: “The inference is plain that those who were once in the light and go out of the light into darkness will feel as contented as those who have never come into the light of present truth...“They seem to be capable of saying and doing and thinking more mean, uncharitable, wicked things, than before they were enlightened.

I am one such person who does not agree with the “present truth” teachings of the Bible Standard Ministries. I also know many other Christ followers who have also left. They are living good lives and following Jesus.

These statements are offensive and sectarian. They are coercive to those who are in the “present truth”. They say that if you "don’t acquiesce to the Divine arrangements and judgments", you will be manifested as being one in outer darkness. The article, “Speak the Same Things” makes it clear that “perfect unity of thought, of mind” (p. 52, paragraph 1) is the proper and the right condition for those associated with the “Movement”. This amounts to spiritual abuse.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Two Most Damaging Doctrines of the LHMM

There are two damaging doctrines of the LHMM that have had the worst effect on its believers. These are the doctrines of:
(1) Pastor Russell being "that servant" mentioned in Matt. 24:46 and chosen as the Parousia Messenger.
(2) Paul S. L. Johnson being God's chosen "Epiphany Messenger"

These doctrines cause the following issues:

* Final authority on Biblical interpretation comes from what these men (Russell and Johnson) said or wrote...and not a plain reading of the text or even a "we don't know" response. This stops thinking and attempts to read or understand the Bible via reading of the text and studying on your own.

* It sets the stage for spiritual abuse.   With this added "authority" of being God's special messenger, anyone who disagrees can be labeled a sifter and excommunicated or whatever. It provides undue spiritual power to the leader in question. There are many examples of this abuse taking place right in Johnson's own writings. It continues today with the present leader. There is nothing new under the sun. It would, however, be good to recognize this as a pattern that is destructive to people.

Johnson died in 1950.  So where are the subsequent messengers? How do you know who to follow? Who are his rightful successors? Is God dealing with the LHMM anymore? It's become quite difficult to pull out scriptures that show authority at this time. The forces people to make their own decisions. Some choose "the channel" of the LHMM and other have not. It's just a more difficult question for them to answer at this time.

If the pastor of my church said that it was "his way or the highway" because his interpretation of Scripture was the only correct one on every minor detail then I would find another church. No church is perfect...but doctrines are not that simple. You need to be willing to discuss and defend certain doctrines...not die for every one.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Blinders and Truth

If you're presently associated with the LHMM, will you read this blog and answer the questions raised here for yourself? Hopefully, so...but more than often I will guess...not. If you do, you are unusual for the group.

Blinders are used on a horse to limit the vision of the animal so they stay on track and don't see what is behind or along side of them. It reduces fear in the animal. Blinders have good effects in getting a horse to do work.

Most people within the LHMM live with the mindset of blinders. They have a limited vision and experience that they will allow into their life. The attitude I've experienced often is "My mind is made up so please don't confuse me with the facts." There is a great fear of outside literature. Blinders are enforced through phrases and thoughts that are engrained in them by the organization and those in it.

Some examples:
"Did you know ____ is a sifter? They've lost their standing before the Lord."
Labeling a person as a sifter is arbitrary and usually based on the fact that the person wrote a letter or addressed the brethren in the group in an "unauthorized" fashion. At that time they are shunned, put out, or essentially ex-communicated. All "truth" needs to be OK'd from headquarters. This prevents people from thinking on their own.

"There could be error in that book."
Actually, there are verified errors in the "truth" books...though they get overlooked. The worldview of the LHMM allows for this by admitting that the authors were not perfect. Unfortunately, they could not possibly correct the errors of publish a list of them. They have no perceived authority to do that.

"That's a tainted translation of the Bible."
No translation of the Bible is perfect. Modern translations are much more accurate than those in the past. There is nothing sacred about the King James Version.

"___ isn't in the truth."
I actually had someone introduce a friend to me in this manner: "This is Mary. She's not in the truth." What? I'm sure that made her feel good that she must be "in the error". Inclusion in the group is very important in the LHMM. The thing that separates you is a profession of belief in the writings of Russell and Johnson.

These blinders were created by statements that Russell and Johnson made that close off the possibility of outside information being truthful or reliable. For example, "You cannot understand the Bible without the help of the Studies in the Scriptures. Without the aid of the studies books you will go into spiritual darkness within a few months."

One difference between a horse and blinders and the average LHMM follower is that a horse is driven by a trustworthy driver. The LHMM is not. Actually, those in the LHMM are driven primarily by two people: Charles T Russell and Paul S.L. Johnson who have been dead for many years. Their writings are the test of authority.

Bible interpretation by the LHMM might begin by reading the scripture. It is not followed by thought, contemplation, and prayer. The next step is to find out what Russell and Johnson had to say about the verse in question.

It is a completely circular argument that goes something like this: How do we know this is the correct interpretation? Russell and Johnson said so. How do we know we can trust Russell or Johnson? They were God's servants to dispense the truth. "Look at what they wrote." They will say "It's obvious." Not so much.

Their worldview is based on circular logic and the assumed authority of Russell and Johnson. Here's an specific example of the logic and a possible conversation:
Has Christ returned? Yes. He returned invisibly in 1874.
How do you know? Various scriptures and the signs of the times indicates that he has. (If they are well studied they might point to a verse.)
Why do you believe that the interpretation of that verse would lead you to the conclusion that Christ has returned invisibly? Pastor Russell and Johnson wrote about it.
Why do you trust Russell? He was "That Servant".
Why do you trust Johnson? He was "the Epiphany Messenger".
Why? Because they wrote about it being true.

The question "Why?" is very important in getting at the REAL reasons for belief.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Responding to Recent Comments

Dear friends from India. Your thoughts are interesting examples of how Paul Johnson has brainwashed people into believing he was God's special messenger. You offer no proof for your proposition. In no ways can it be proved that Johnson was God's special prophet except from his own writings. Where is there one instance of something that has come true that was predicted in advance by Johnson? The Bible itself is full of fulfilled prophecy and is internally consistent.

In a previous post, we list factual details of the many things that Johnson predicted in his writings, that did not come true. If what Johnson wrote is to be considered prophecy, then it is FAILED prophecy. If this is the work of God and His wisdom, it is not a God that would be reliable to follow.
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." (Matthew 7:15-23)

If we look at the "fruit" of Johnson's work, in many cases we see a trail of hurting people. Many of these people eventually left the group and then are no longer seen by those still in it. Some stayed and struggled through the abuse. Nonetheless, that is the fruit. There are very few stories of truly positively changed lives by the accumumlated knowledge that Johnson "revealed". How could it? A majority of the information is historical and about him. A majority of the people that I know who have left the LHMM, have gone on to lead healthier and more fulfilled lives and never realized the bondage they were under while participating in the LHMM. They have found a true freedom in Christ.

"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them –- bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up." (2 Peter 2:1-3 NIV).

One Scripture you quote here as proof that the Epiphany works were inspired by God: "For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." 2 Pet 1:21
I believe this Scripture refers to true prophecy as evidenced in the Bible itself...not the Epiphany or Parousia volumes written by Johnson or Russell.

Then you say that if Pastor Johnson was wrong, King Solomon was also wrong (Proverbs 8:22-31). I'm not following the logic. In this passage Solomon (the writer of Proverbs) is not talking about himself. He is talking about wisdom...and later Paul and John may have alluded to some of these statements to describe Christ's presence at the creation of the world. (Colossians 1:15-17; 2:2, 3; Revelation 3:14)

My heart is not hurt by any of the replies to this blog. I am encouraged to know that there are some that are reading it. I hope that it can help you on your journey in sorting out truth.
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1-3 NIV).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Man of La Mancha?

When you look closely at Johnson's actions, he was a lot like Don Quixote or the Man of La Mancha. After reading much about knights and chivalry, Don Quixote loses his mind and transforms himself into a knight. Even though it is a delusion, he sets out to fight injustice. In a similar manner, Johnson read about the many great church leaders before him and wanted to be like them. He called them "star members". So he went about creating the story for himself by interpreting the Scriptures to include himself as a major player in types and antitypes. He even admitted to having a mental breakdown (brain fag). He fought diligently those that disagreed with his interpretations and in so doing majored in the minor issues.

Along the way, so much of the truth and beauty of God's Word was distorted and lost. Instead of looking at God's Word as applicable to our daily lives, much of his writings focus on the history of a time period that has no practical value to our lives. During meetings, the focus is often on getting "the right answer" from the book instead of actually reading God's Word and seeing how it applies to us.

LHMMers today look back on Johnson as a hero. Even when many of his errors became evident at his death, his followers want to continue the delusion. An older sister that had actually met Paul S.L. Johnson, once said that "he was a man of tall stature and when he entered the room you could tell that he could be trusted and believed." Bill Clinton was also tall leader with a commanding presence. Do you believe everything that he has said? What about Eliab? He was an impressive Old Testament character who was tall and handsome. When comparing him to his little brother David (the future king of Israel), the prophet Samuel chose him. The Lord said to Samuel, however: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

The facts are that Johnson abused and deceived people. He predicted the future like tarot cards or Nostradamus. He was delusional. He tried to make events work out or when they didn't he made up excuses for them. Johnson lacked good judgment in Britain. The examples are plentiful and many come from his own writings. When reading his writings with the idea that Johnson was God's chosen "Epiphany Messenger", LHMM adherents are able to make excuses and completely miss the truth of who he was.