Wednesday, February 29, 2012

You Won't Find a Better Church

Proverbs 27:2 Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips.

Isaiah 5:21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

Throughout our time at BGBC, we came across this message on a consistent basis:  you won't find a better church in the area.   We very clearly got the message that it's very difficult to find a good church.  There is truth in that statement.  However, there was an attitude of arrogance and elitism presented by the pastor that other churches were inferior to his church.  Here are some of the ways this was demonstrated:
  • Other churches don't preach the full counsel of God, they minced words and have only light and fluffy sermons.  
  • Most churches don't evangelize like BGBC and it's rare to find a church where members evangelize on a weekly basis.
  • Friendship evangelism is an inferior method of evangelism.   Our method is better.
  • Other churches play watered-down praise and worship music, but we play only hymns and good praise songs.
  • We don't let our young ladies/women show their cleavage because we know how to dress modestly.  Other churches don't even address that issue like we do.
  • Most of our families homeschool their children because it's not right to let the government take over our children's education. 
  • We would never have a youth group because you know what happens with kids and raging hormones.  Any of our youth activities are always supervised with parents/elders and we have a Bible study to go along with the activity because we're more spiritual and other youth groups are primarily for social and fun activities. 
  • Most of our moms stayed at home with the children rather than pawn the children off in daycare.  
I am not saying that the above ideas are right or wrong.  You bet I think having moms at home with little ones is ideal and homeschooling is a great option because parents can play a wonderful part in their children's education and know what they are being taught, etc.  But people, the attitude is wrong.  It was, "we do it the right way and if you do it another way, you are wrong".   This is the sin of pride.  It is also works-based, not grace-based.  It is not done out of love and obedience, but is like a show on display.  

This attitude has far-reaching ramifications, however.  You can become so convinced that no other church will measure up to these standards that it can hold you captive in that church sometimes for years.  We all want the best for our families.  Hearing it said time and again that this is the best church, why would you ever take your family to an inferior church?   It makes it very difficult to leave.  This is one of the tools used to keep the people held emotionally and spiritually captive. 

Here is more on elitism I found at an online blog dealing with spiritual abuse.  Provender.

What elitism does is unify church members. They get the message. THEY don't want to be like the worldly groups out there that don't care about lost souls or the poor or missions or the scripture. They want to make sure they are among the chosen few. To do this, they will hunker down, they will keep to the group, they will make sure the leadership knows they are loyal and true and not heathen like those other groups outside.

When things get messy and they are tempted to leave, elitism is a powerful handcuff. Members have spent so much time looking down on other groups and playing up their own gifts, that to leave means they have to reverse their thinking, and that's very hard to do. Suddenly, they are thinking about no longer being part of God's special group, and also about joining up with groups they - along with the church leadership - have looked down on for so long. That's a hard reversal to stomach.

Besides bragging about gifts and callings, and besides castigating other "inferior" churches, another sign of elitism is when the pastor or leaders won't meet with other community pastors. They will not join ministerial alliances or Christian groups in a community. They are too good for those lukewarm Christians. They are far above them and will not deign to rub shoulders with them. While many elitist pastors do meet with such groups either just for show or because it lends credibility to the group, the very hard core elitists will not. If your pastor won't meet with other pastors unless they are of the same denomination, it is a big, bright, red flag that he is an elitist and possibly abusive.

Elitism can be blatant or subtle, but it's a common trait of abusive churches.

Psalm 149:4   For the LORD delights in his people;
      he crowns the humble with victory.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How Dare You Leave Our Church!

Below is an excerpt from Exposing Spiritual Abuse by Mike Fehlauer:

Painful Exit
In a controlling church, it is impossible to leave on good terms. Because the pastor’s sense of worth is usually based on the control he is able to exert over the congregation, when someone leaves, this insecure leader considers it an affront to his leadership. Therefore he often takes it personally. As a result, when people do leave, they are labeled rebellious, or the rest of the congregation is given the explanation that they left because they had become offended. 

In an unhealthy church, there is never a good reason why anyone should leave. Regardless of the situation, the people who leave are always the “problem.” 

Mr. Fehlauer hit the nail on the head on this issue.  We also noticed that the person/families who left were rarely discussed again - it was as if they disappeared - out of sight and out of mind.   They were not on friendly terms anymore, either.   Because the thought is, "how can you associate with someone who disagrees that our beloved pastor or our church is not the best pastor/church?  If they are in disagreement with what we believe, they must be our enemy and are treated as such". 

In contrast, I'm reminded of the church we left after having attended there 6 years.  We met with the elders and shared our concerns, agreeing to disagree and found another church.  Whenever we happen to run into the former pastor and/or church members even now after all these years, we are greeted with hugs, questions about the family, just as if we were family who went away.  Sure, they miss that we do not attend the same church as them, but they understand that sometimes there is a better fit elsewhere.  There is no animosity - no feelings that we are the enemy.  A healthy pastor cares about souls and wants people to be growing in the Lord, whether they are attending his church or somewhere else.  How wonderful that the Body of Christ is big enough that people can worship where they are being fed and growing in Christ.  Is that not the goal?

Administrative note:  I was informed that readers had to register in order to comment on this blog.  I have edited the settings to allow people to comment anonymously.  This is a sensitive issue that has affected many lives for many years and there have been lasting repercussions to those who have been bold enough to leave the church.  I want to make sure this blog is a safe place to post comments.  Using a pseudo name or posting anonymously is fine with me.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

I've spent a lot of time researching spiritual abuse, the kinds of people who spiritually abuse and found this great article called "Narcissism in the Pulpit" about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Be sure to check out the very informative website.  Here is a snippet from the website:

Sam Vaknin, described by the New York Times as the “world’s leading expert on narcissism”, describes narcissism as:  “Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is an all-pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behaviour), need for admiration or adulation and lack of empathy, usually beginning by early adulthood and present in various contexts. Five (or more) of the following criteria must be met:
1. Feels grandiose and self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements & talents to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).

2. Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion.

3. Firmly convinced that he or she is unique &, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions).

4. Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention & affirmation - or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply).

5. Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special & favorable priority treatment. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations.

6. Is "interpersonally exploitative", i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends.

7. Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others.

8. Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her.

9. Arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.”


Leaving a Church

My husband and I met at church when we were single and in college and have been going to church together as a family for all of our married life.  Prior to that, we were regular church attenders all of our childhood.  This church thing is nothing new to us.  When my husband was active duty, we were forced to move frequently and so this meant we've gone to a lot of churches over the years.  

There are many reasons people might leave a church:
  • use "wrong" Bible translation
  • don't agree with theology
  • too many programs
  • don't like the praise and worship music
  • too many hymns or not enough hymns
  • don't like youth groups
  • not family-oriented
  • not enough programs
  • don't care for pastor's style of preaching
  • don't fit in with the people
Usually people can tell within a few weeks if a church is going to be a good fit for a family.  One of the first red flags we saw was wonderful families coming and being actively involved for around 4-6 months and then abruptly leaving, without saying a word.  I can't remember how many times this happened during our 26 months, but it was enough to be an obvious pattern to me.  Why were they leaving?  Why didn't they say good-bye?  A number of times I asked elders/pastor why a particular family had left.  The responses I was given always put the blame on the family.  People come and go all the time from churches if they don't have a good "fit".  It's not a big deal.  But why the negativity about those families who left?  Why was it always their fault?  Why couldn't it be - "they just didn't feel like they fit in here or were looking for something else"?  

The message that spoke to me was this:  BGBC is the church to attend.  From the pulpit I heard that there weren't other Bible-believing churches like this around.  It's very hard to find a good Bible-believing church.  The implication was that if you had to leave this amazing church, you would be going to an inferior church.  There really was no justification to leave this church, so the blame  had to be placed on those leaving.  It was their fault that they couldn't accept this amazing church.  There was something wrong with them.  That is what was said and the people accepted that as the answer outwardly.  But I know some people were taking mental note because some members even documented these happenings over the years privately. 

Interestingly (perhaps Providentially), I ran into a number of families who had left the church on different occasions and was given the opportunity to ask them exactly why they left (this subject will be discussed at a later date).  Their answers were completely different than the explanations given from the elders/pastor.  Why was there a need to fabricate a story?  As I said earlier, it's no big deal to have a family that doesn't "fit" in a church, just find a different church.  However in this church, it is judged that you must be lacking in your Christian walk if you have the audacity to leave. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

As the Deer Pants

Psalm 42:1 1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
   so my soul pants for you, my God. 

We had 6 visitors to our backyard yesterday and it reminded me of the song,  "As the Deer"

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after thee
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship thee

You alone are my strength my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship thee 

This is a beautiful acoustic guitar rendition from youtube. 

Blog Hits

Between late last night and early this morning there were 25 new hits on this site.  I've personally given the link to only 3 people, so obviously it is traveling quickly since not many people would have a need to do a Google Search for the church between midnight and 7:30 AM.  

I wish I could be a bug on the wall and hear today's sermon.  Perhaps it has something to do with people who bring discord and strife to the body and stir up dissension.  It is not wrong to question your pastor, to scour the Scriptures for truth, to question when something inside your heart tells you something is not right.  Be careful that you do not turn yourself, your hearts, mind, soul, to a man, but to God. 

I leave you with this:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I pray that each of you would seek the Truth in love.  (1 Cor. 13:4)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Chuck's Reviews of Me on Google and Threat of Lawsuit for Defamation

Somehow, the powers that be at Google have removed my legitimate reviews of Beaverton Grace Bible Church, yet have allowed Chuck O'Neal's reviews of me on the Google review site of the church.  I wasn't aware that if you search Beaverton Grace Bible Church on Google, that my name was up for review.  I thought the Google Review forum is to review the site, not reviewers.  How can a man yield that much power to convince Google to remove posts and let his reviews stay when they do not even constitute as reviews?  He has two reviews of me posted - both with 5 stars.   Before he changes, them, I want to post them here and then will address a number of issues.  

Interestingly, within 2 hours of publishing the first post on this blog, Chuck revised an earlier review and had this threat for me and "many of those involved" in a threatened defamation lawsuit.  Defamation is based on false accusations.  He will have a hard time in court proving that my words are defaming.  I wouldn't waste my time on defamation - what is there to gain in that?  I will, however, sacrifice my time and energy in speaking the truth when there is abuse of power going on and lives are at risk. 

Admin note:  If you click on the links below, you will see that the reviews have since been edited (in fact, multiple times).  Below is what was on the Google review site as of the date of this original posting. 

 Chuck O'Neal ‎ - Feb 25, 2012
DEFAMATION IS A CRIME: Pastor Chuck O' Neal, his wife, his children, and Beaverton Grace Bible Church as a whole, have suffered JulieAnne's hateful lying slander for well over three years. After seeking counsel from a pastor on staff with Grace Community Church (under Pastor John MacArthur) and reading him several excerpts from JulieAnne's endless defamation, he recommended that we FILE A LAWSUIT in an appeal to Caesar as the Apostle Paul did when falsely accused of crimes against God and the state. The lawsuit has been filed in the Washington County courthouse. JulieAnne and many of those involved in her present and historic slander will be served within the week. Her many lies and vicious criminal accusations will not stand in the light of day in the Washington County courthouse or in the coming courtroom before God. OVER THREE YEARS AGO the reviewer known as JulieAnne or “BROWN” was Biblically put out of Beaverton Grace Bible Church for ongoing vicious slander. You can see my 2009 response to her in the reviews below .

Chuck O'Neal ‎ - Nov 18, 2009
JulieAnne's Destructive Slander Continues To Whom It May Concern: Almost a year ago JulieAnne and her husband were Biblically put out of Beaverton Grace Bible Church with a group of families and individuals that were engaged in ongoing divisive slander. After attending many churches and leaving them in a similar manner, the group has now splintered. Many of those in this factious group no longer attend church at all. It is sad to see that JulieAnne remains steadfast in her destructive behavior. For obvious reasons we exhort you to heed the following Scriptures:  Prov 6:16-19 16 These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who speaks lies, And ONE WHO SOWS DISCORD AMONG BRETHREN. Prov 16:28 A perverse man SOWS STRIFE, And A WHISPERER SEPARATES THE BEST OF FRIENDS. Prov 26:20 Where there is NO WOOD, THE FIRE GOES OUT; And where there is NO TALEBEARER, STRIFE CEASES. Rom 16:17-18 NOW I URGE YOU, BRETHREN, NOTE THOSE WHO CAUSE DIVISIONS AND OFFENSES, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and AVOID THEM. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. Titus 3:9-11 But AVOID FOOLISH DISPUTES, genealogies, CONTENTIONS, and strivings about the law; for THEY ARE UNPROFITABLE AND USELESS. 10 REJECT A DIVISIVE MAN AFTER THE FIRST AND SECOND ADMONITION, 11 KNOWING THAT SUCH A PERSON IS WARPED AND SINNING, being self-condemned. It is our prayer that there will be no more wood thrown upon the fire of contentiousness, strife, discord, and division. It is our prayer that the fire will go out and that the body of Christ at BGBC will be able to press on “in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). It is our prayer that those who started the fire and have cut, stacked, and stoked much wood upon it, will repent, for God's glory and their blessing. If you have any questions, please contact the pastor and elders. May we be evermore convinced of mankind's sinfulness and of our need for God's amazing grace through faith in His beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. God STILL has the whole world and His Church in His very capable hands. For Christ and His Church, Pastor Chuck O'Neal, Elder Dave Loynes, Elder Dale Weaver

Friday, February 24, 2012

Google Reviews

Somehow someone has been able to manipulate the Google reviews so that the church members' reviews stay on top, pushing down the negative reviews.   Below is a new review today.  I had completely forgotten about the weird foot washings and triple-dipping baptisms.  That is why this blog can be very helpful.  When you are deeply involved in a church like this, things that seem normal aren't really normal once you have left and are on the outside and can think clearly.  To elevate foot washing to the same level as communion?  Really?  No co-ed swimming?  Thank you, former member, for your honest review.

former member ‎ - Feb 25, 2012
I was in this church for a period of time and found that between their quarterly communal foot washings, baptismal triple dippings, the annual modesty diatribe, no coed swimming and if you don't agree with this pastor then you and your family are shunned. And no, I am not kidding. This is leagalism 101. Run! Matthew 7:15-16a "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits..." 


This blog has been set up primarily as a safe haven for those who suffered at the hands of the pastor and/or members (perhaps unknowingly) of Beaverton Grace Bible Church.  If you would like me to post your story, please send to:   Because of the nature of this situation, I understand that some will want to remain anonymous and I fully respect that choice.

As I have gone through this process personally and have read books, scoured the internet for understanding of what we went through, I am aware that others who may not have gone to BGBC will venture upon the site.  You may read something here that sounds very similar to your church experience, just as I did on other blogs/websites.  You are free to comment and respond, too.  Sadly, this is not an isolated church experience and my heart goes out to you, too!  You are not alone.

When you post anonymously on my Blogger blog, I am unable to see any identifiable information (ISP addresses, etc), so please know that this is a safe place to share your story or comment.

If you have ideas for discussion, please send them along to:

* * * * Update 1/2/13:   I have a new blog www.spiritualsoundingboard  Come check it out!