Monday, April 30, 2012

Need new reading material? I can help.

We've had a record number of posts and comments today - 340 hits (my attorney said she contributed a few "hits" today, but even if you subtract 10 hits, it still broke a record).  For such a small church, there certainly is interest. 

If you would like to read the 54-page document referencing some 70 legal cases - which was filed Friday by my attorney on behalf of my daughter and me, please send me an e-mail: or you can contact me via Facebook. 

I found it very interesting, filled with lots of legalese, and even a little bit of Thumper  (from Bambi) which amused us greatly.

Please continue to pray for all involved in this lawsuit.  It's not just those who have their name on the paper, but the families.  I was thinking how sweet it was when listening to my 9 yr old (this blog's resident artist) who prays each night for the situation.  It affects the children and spouses as well.  Also pray for those who have left the church and are sorting through what they went through, and of course pray for Chuck, elder(s), and the current congregants. 

I was just thinking about my abusive father.  I never wanted a relationship with him after the way he treated me; yet late in his life, my heart was softened and so was his.  We had complete restoration of our relationship in the last year of his life.  What a gift that was.  I found new love for my father that I had never known.  Now when I think of him, there is sweetness, not abuse.  Those kinds of "miracles" can happen.

Evangelize When it Looks Good

Beaverton Grace Bible Church is a church with a very strong emphasis on evangelism.  It is one of the primary reasons why my husband wanted to start attending.  We had evangelism classes for two hours each Sunday at "Grace Bible Institute".  Groups of people went out evangelizing on Friday nights to malls, canvassing neighborhoods, Portland Rose Parade, Mormon Temple, Jehovah's Witness "conventions", downtown, parks, church-sponsored car washes - anywhere there was an opportunity, BGBC availed themselves.

However, my "wayward" 21-yr old daughter seemed to be exempt from their evangelism efforts.  My daughter left our home abruptly a year or so after we started attending BGBC.   She didn't want anything to do with church anymore.  She was hurt and confused.

Besides Meaghan and possibly her friend from high school, can someone please tell me why not one person from the church (especially elders/pastor) asked me for my daughter's phone number or address to go out and see her to talk with her, to show love to her, to "evangelize" her? 

A very interesting thing happened the last week our family was at BGBC.  The very last week we were there - at a time I am fairly certain the pastor and elders thought we might be staying, Pastor Chuck mentioned to my husband that they ought to go pay Hannah a visit.  What should have made my heart leap for joy made me sick.

Oh really?  Why now?  Why not at any time during the previous 11 months?  Just now  . . . when it's convenient . . . when they knew we were having difficulty with the church . . . to try to keep us there?  Sit back and think about that, friends.  Go out and evangelize to strangers week after week, but when one of your own flock has left and you know the mom has been in mourning week after week, ignore that fallen sheep until it's convenient to try to win over the family to remain at the church???  That is not evangelizing for the sake of the soul, that is evangelizing for the wrong reason. 

What kind of shepherding is this?   Seriously.  Outward appearances, anyone? 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Guest Poster: The Whole Bible . . . really?

I've copied two excellent comments from Friday's post here.  Looking at the posting time, it's likely they are from the same anonymous commenter.  My comments are in blue.  Thank you, Anonymous, this is good stuff!

Beaverton Grace Bible Church Motto:
Our Motto
is the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible! (Isa. 55:11 & Heb. 4:12) The Word of God will bless your life, your family, and your eternity.

Let's see if this is true.

The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 6:7
Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?

(Sorry - I have to interject here:  how does he get to determine which text applies to him or not?  Do we get to do that with scripture, too?  I don't remember him preaching that from the pulpit.   Is it all the Bible or not?)  

Chuck O'Neal says (per Google review):

The context of 1 Cor. 6:7-8 is primarily that of business, property, and financial matters. We are not wrangling over some monetary loss that we have been defrauded. We are not losing financially due to some dispute of business with a fellow Christian. There is no property in question. There is nothing petty at stake. The local church, the ministry of the Gospel, and our families are under attack.

Julie Anne's question:  Then why is he suing for $500,000 - - - - - women with children and two young adults?  I don't know - - it just makes me think there's some women issues going on beneath the surface.  What Man of God goes after mothers and children?  Wait isn't he accusing me of harming wives, harming children?   So, is he doing what he is accusing me of doing?    ( FOR THREE AND A HALF YEARS JULIEANNE AND THOSE WITH HER, HAVE BEEN ENGAGED IN PUBLIC, CHURCH TO CHURCH, AND WORLD WIDE WEB DEFAMATION IN A SELFISH WILLINGNESS TO DISCREDIT GOD, HARM THE CHURCH, HARM WIVES, HARM CHILDREN, AND HARM THE TESTIMONY OF CHRIST’S GOSPEL (review)

The Bible says:

Matthew 5:43-45a
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven...

Chuck O'Neal says (per Google review):

After three and a half years of suffering a great many injuries tamely, without stirring for our own relief, we are now using lawful means to right the ministry of the Gospel at BGBC and to protect our families.

The Bible says:

Matthew 15:7-9
Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of Men'.

Now...let's take a look at Chuck O'Neal's excuse for why 1 Corinthians 6 does NOT apply to him. In his Google review he quotes from Matthew Henry's commentary:

This part is NOT in bold, so apparently does NOT apply:
“Here is at least an intimation that they went to law for trivial matters, things of little value; for the apostle blames them that they did not suffer wrong rather than go to law (v. 7), which must be understood of matters not very important.

This part is in BOLD and, of course, applies:
Can you imagine Jesus pulling that line when he was hanging on the cross?   Was he all about protecting his reputation and suing people?  I think not.

This last part, of course, does NOT apply:

but, in matters of small consequence, it is better to put up with the wrong. Christians should be of a forgiving temper. And it is more for their ease and honour to suffer small injuries and inconveniences than seem to be contentious.

1 Corinthinians 6:8

No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!

Those of us with eyes to see can see so clearly!

No kidding.  Great posts!

So from the reviews, I gather it is being said that I and "those with me" are waging battle against Chuck and the church, and we are the "enemy".  But I remember sermons preached about being persecuted for Christ's sake.  I assume he thinks he's (and the church) being persecuted.  Is he taking up the cross like he told us to do?  Does he and the church think they gets to pick and choose who "persecutes" him/them and make sure the timing is on his/their schedule?  So he'll only take it like a good soldier by "putting up with the wrong" and "suffer small injuries and inconveniences" if the conditions are right?  And if the conditions are not right, then they get to sue, which is contrary to scripture?  Is that how it works?  I'm just trying to sort this out here.   It's all very confusing to me. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lawsuit Update!!

I was notified by my (our) attorney that the motion has been filed with the court and is public.  I guess anyone can get a copy.  I'm not sure how one goes about that.  It's a 54-page honkin' document.  Whoa.  I just got my copy.   Check out how thick it is.

54-page motion

Normally, I'm fairly private on the internet.  I know Chuck O'Neal is used to having his name in the public arena on sermons, websites, reviews, Sermon Audio, iTunes, KPDQ radio station, etc.  Me, a stay-at-home mom, not so much.  Well, since he decided to sue me in civil court, what could have been dealt with in private is now a public matter.  I stand by my Google reviews, postings, and opinions.   I will not cover up the truth.  Too many precious lives are at stake. 

Here is the front page of the court paper in case someone would like to look it up.  I am certainly not the first blogger who has been sued for defamation and won't be the last.  If my case helps someone else,  that would be great.  I am glad we live in a country where we have the right to free speech.  It's too bad there are people who try to interfere with that amazing privilege. 

I'm going to get my loungewear on, put my feet up, and eat bon bons while I read it.   

Afterward, I hope to grab Marbles for a little snuggle time.  Isn't she cute?

Baptism: Was It Genuine or for Show?

Baptism is an act of obedience in which a Believer publicly proclaims his faith and commitment to Christ.  Being immersed in water symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, so in essence a Christian is saying that they died with Christ and will rise with Him again.  It is a beautiful step in a Believer's life as the Body of Christ comes together to witness and support the Believer.

We saw some beautiful baptisms while attending the church and of course who can forget the baptisms at the beautiful church camp at the lake with the frigid water?

However, there was one disturbing pattern that a number of us noticed.  Some were being baptized who were not walking with the Lord, especially among the youth.  I've been told one youth reported immediately afterward that it was done just because everybody else was doing it.  One person was baptized without giving public testimony because the pastor vouched for the testimony which was made privately to him.  Another was questioned afterward and didn't know why they got baptized, acknowledging they weren't a Christian, but went ahead because the pastor convinced them. 

There is no numbers game here in which God says to a pastor:  how many congregants did you baptize?   So what could be the reason for baptizing those who were not Christians or did not understand the meaning of baptism or had no desire to walk with Christ?    Why were they pushed to get baptized?   Being a part of a church where congregants are growing in the Lord and are making public confessions of faith is a wonderful sight to witness and it says to the congregation:  we've got something good going on here spiritually.  But if these baptisms were not genuine, why were they done?

 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.    Matthew 23:27-28

Think of how much better it would have been to walk alongside those who expressed a desire to get baptized.  Connect them with a mature person in faith for discipleship.  Build and nurture relationship among the saints and encourage spiritual growth so that when the time came when there was true repentance, true conversion, their baptism would have been meaningful and genuine.   To baptize those who are so weak in faith or perhaps have no faith at all seems only self-serving and all about the image.  It benefits no one else.  I do not believe God is amused by this hypocrisy. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Walls are Crumbling

This last week there have been a lot of wonderful things happening behind the scenes.  The walls are crumbling.  Former BGBC congregants have reached out to people they have shunned for over 3 years and relationships are slowly being restored.  I haven't been told details - I don't need to know details - the idea that relationships are being restored is what makes me smile.

I, too,  have had a few new friend requests on Facebook from people who had "unfriended" me over 3 years ago.  The other day someone sent me a note of apology.   I cannot tell you how this warms my heart.  So many of us have been praying and waiting for this day.  Our hands were tied and we just prayed that God's truth would be revealed some day.  God is at work and is in the process of restoring of relationships and healing broken hearts. 

This is huge.

I had this post in "draft" mode for a few days and interestingly, last night, nearly 20 people received a private Facebook message from a former congregant.   More than a handful of people have responded positively already.  I thought the message fit perfectly with this post, so I asked the person who sent it for permission to post the message here and permission was granted.  Here is the message:

It seems to me there is more unity after the events of October 2011. The TRUE love of God and sovereignty has been demonstrated to me in ways that i'm sure we are all amazed at. I see weights being lifted off, despite the severity of this trial. I truly believe God has a plan and a reason for EVERYTHING that has happened. So much good has come out of a horrible circumstances.

Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." It's funny the only verse that comes to mind is from Romans. lol *cough cough

Perhaps the greatest realization is that there is freedom with God. From my perspective, every Christian that has been suppressed, hurt and ripped apart by Chuck and other members of the church, has been lifted up by God, through the strengthening and revolution of their faith.

I thought the church's decisions' for past 3 years have been poor to say the least, but i'm glad the blinders are off. Even has a non-believer, I think this verse is pretty much awesome. ;o)

1 Cor 13 13:4-7
"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

It might take a while to get to the point where we once were, but this is such a wonderful start.  Friends, the battle is the Lord's and He is winning.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

For Real?

I try to live life as normal - do the homeschool mom thing, volunteer daily at the high school as accompanist and "choir mom", laundry, cooking, connect with my FB buddies, taxi mom - you know the busy mom gig.

Every once in a while, I get this flash in my mind:  you are being sued by your former pastor, Chuck O'Neal,  and church, Beaverton Grace Bible Church for $500,000. 

What the heck?  Could this be my imagination?  Is this the most bizarre, insane, ridiculous thing ever?

And I'm reminded that there are three others who are also being sued who are most likely going through the same thing as me - being forced to "lawyer up" and spend time away from our families/lives in order to defend ourselves.  This could be a long process - certainly months - it's already been two months.  And for what purpose?  Was there really no other way to deal with this? 

Talk about a colossal waste of money and resources from everybody involved:  pastor/church, attorneys, four defendants and their families, court system, etc.

My mom always taught me that hate is such a powerful word and to use it very carefully.  I've thought carefully:  I hate waste.  I hate abuse.  I hate when people are deceived by people who should be trustworthy.  I hate when relationships are torn apart.  I hate when my friends are sad.  I hate when people question their faith because of false teaching.  I HATE abuse.  Yes, I just yelled.

The anger I get from this situation only motivates me to keep on blogging and keep telling the truth.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here, Part 4

This post will wrap up the Korah series.   Earlier, I highlighted some "Korah" comments in the comment section.   The commenter identified as "Korah" and I made light of the Korah reference.   I want to give a little background to that situation. 

I know who "Korah" is and know what this particular family experienced.  When they were accused of Korah-like behavior, it hit them to the core.  There were many tears, many "what ifs", many questions.  There was much deep reflection and soul searching to see if there was sin on their part, looking back on things that were said, not said, etc.  These people are godly people who have hearts of gold.  When questions were asked of the pastor - it was done for the sake of the body, not for themselves.  It was commonly known that if the pastor was challenged, there could be repercussions.  They sacrificed much and took the risk to try to protect the body and there was a cost involved.  When you are brought down low, physically, spiritually, and emotionally, by words from someone you trusted and respected to be a man of God, those words can sting and sting deeply.

Now after all of these years, things have become much more clear.  When piecing together things, we discovered that Chuck recycled poor Korah's name from at least 2007-2009.  Chuck was infamous for repetitious sermons and he obviously recycled his Korah diatribe on a number of people to wield his authority and threaten when they questioned him.  

Once we saw the pattern and realized others were also called Korah for the same offenses, the sting no longer had power.  His pattern was laughable.  That is why we are able to make light of it now.  We can picture him pushing the "Korah" button whenever he felt threatened. It really was not a sign of strength to use and reuse the same Korah story over and over again against people who asked legitimate questions.   It was a sign of weakness.    As we have dissected the blog posts/letters/words over and over, the war-like words used to condemn people have become meaningless to us.  The combative tone and typing in all-caps shows weakness, not strength.  However, for those still in his fold, we still pray they will see the truth and be free from this anti-shepherd.

It's very likely that using the Korah scripture in this spiritually abusive fashion was far more than we are aware of.  If you have ever been accused of having Korah-like behavior, of having the sin of Korah, or being a spiritual descendant of Korah, you are in good company.  You may have retreated privately - and maybe in shame.  Some might still be sitting in the pews at BGBC.  Others left quietly realizing that there would be no reckoning with a man like this.   There is one aspect that is very clear and must be acknowledged:  those of you who were recipients of the Korah message were defending the faith.  Standing for the truth was not the easiest path to take.  The sacrifice was real:   loss of job,  title or position, life-long friends, and church, heart ache, loss of sleep, challenge of faith, etc.    You were not being divisive, nor did you usurp his authority.  That authority which was proclaimed was false authority.  You stood up to him, you questioned, you called him out just as the Bible commanded you to do.  You sacrificed much and you deserve our thanks.  You will be rewarded. 

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  Matthew 5:12

Read these verses on false teachers our responsibility in dealing with false teachers:

Jude 1:3-4
 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
vs 17-22
 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Admin note:  This is a 4-part series:

Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 1
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 2
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 3
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here, Part 4

Monday, April 23, 2012

Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 3

We are currently in Part 3 of the Korah theme.  In Part 1 we discussed pastoral authority and how the Korah scripture was used to exert the pastor's  "imagined" authority over people.   Part 2, the issue of "do not question authority" was discussed.   In Part 3, we will continue to discuss the pattern of using the Korah scripture in spiritually abusive churches, including more on the topic of the unspoken rule "do not question authority".

In spiritually abusive churches, there seems to be a pattern of avoiding questions and then accusing the questioner of being divisive and in sin rather than answering the questions.  Not knowing the frequency of the use of this tactic, it didn’t dawn on me until just recently.  Perhaps the pastor really doesn’t have answers to those questions.  That's just a thought.  But clearly, it is a tactic used by many spiritual abusers to shut down someone from asking questions.  It’s just a lot easier to shut the questions down by proclaiming that anyone asking pastor/elders questions is in the sin of Korah.

It was easy to find examples of this kind of tactic on the internet.   Here's one example I found by Jeff Dunn from Internet Monk:
Preachers can get away with saying the craziest things. They seemingly get a free ride. If they are questioned, it’s not long before the “touch not God’s anointed” verse is misused as a shield. I know this to be true from personal experience. The church I grew up in as a believer was led by a man who announced he was God’s anointed and we were not to question him. Of course I thought it kind of silly when he railed against Catholics for (as he claimed) elevating the Pope’s words to the level of Holy Scripture when he did the same thing with his own words. Anyone who questioned him in the least was considered to be a son of Korah and was to be shunned. Spiritual abuse at its best. 

Meanwhile, if the person who asks the question is unsure of their faith, they may be convinced to believe the problem lies within themselves and their sin.  Many times, the question is never asked again and thus, the situation is “hushed”.   The original question is left unaddressed and now the congregant has hit a dead end and instead focuses inwardly.   There's a good chance that this person will never dare to question the pastor again.  And for the pastor, this "problem" is solved.  This is how a pastor can use his authority to control his congregation by squelching any questions or comments that he deems threatening. 

There are many in the church who might never have a question to ask.  They come to church week after week and don’t see any problems.  They are good little congregants, never asking questions, never commenting, and they keep the peace.  They wonder what the deal is with all those "divisive" people pastor keeps talking about and read the reviews shaking their heads.

We were good little congregants for two years.  We wore the right kinds of clothes, attended regularly, took notes, brought our new and pastor-approved NKJV-sanctioned Bibles, sang loudly, sent family members out evangelizing on Friday nights.  We went to the pastor for counseling issues regarding our children, freely discussed other “wolves” and it seemed we were generally on the same page with the pastor regarding doctrinal issues.  It wasn’t until we asked the tough questions that we became a threat and were asked to not come back. 

Rich Diamani wrote an article in which he describes spiritual abuse characteristics and his experiences:  "We were once subjected to a two-hour sermon called 'Korah and Co.' in which we were told that any who dare to question the leadership were like the sons of Korah."

He also describes a method called Mystical Manipulation used in spiritually abusive and cultic churches:
Mystical Manipulation  - This is the claim that the leaders are acting for God in a way that makes them unquestionable. They have the truth, they have the anointing, and questioning them is to be like the Sons of Korah, who rebelled against Moses.  To dare to question the leadership is to run the risk of falling from grace. Honesty with oneself about the real questions you have over the many contradictions in the lives and teachings of the leaders is impossible if you are to be faithful to God. Self-expression and reason are subordinated to the leader, and eventually they are fully subverted.
There are specific patterns abusers use to maintain authority in their churches.  They need to be pointed out loud and clear so that those who have already gone through abuse can be aware of what to look for so they don't get caught in the trap again.

Here are some important thoughts:
  •  It is normal to have questions regarding teachings, scripture, and your faith.
  •  Asking your pastor/elders questions is not a sin (unless you really are trying to cause trouble).
  •  Using scripture to "quiet" questions is not appropriate.  A good shepherd wants to teach and help you understand.  

Admin note:  This is a 4-part series:

Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 1
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 2
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 3
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here, Part 4

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Recipe for a Successful Pastor

Paul Tripp wrote an article Recipe for a Successful Pastor and wow, there's some good stuff here:

What does knowing the man entail? It means knowing the true condition of his heart---as far as such is possible. What does he really love, and what does he despise? What are his hopes, dreams, and fears? What are the deep desires that fuel and shape the way he does ministry? What anxieties have the potential to derail or paralyze him? How accurate is his view of himself? How open is he to confrontation, critique, and encouragement? How committed is he to his own sanctification?
How open is he about his own temptations, weaknesses, and failures? How ready is he to listen to and defer to the wisdom of others? Is pastoral ministry a community project to him? Does he have a tender, nurturing heart? Is he warm and hospitable, a shepherd and champion to those who are suffering? What character qualities would his wife and children use to describe him? Does he sit under his own preaching? Is his heart broken and his conscience regularly grieved as he looks at himself in the mirror of the Word? How robust, consistent, joyful, and vibrant is his devotional life?
Does his ministry to others flow out of the vibrancy of his devotional communion with the Lord? Does he hold himself to high standards, or does he settle for mediocrity? Is he sensitive to the experience and needs of those who minister alongside him? Does he embody the love and grace of the Redeemer? Does he overlook minor offenses? Is he ready and willing to forgive? Is he critical and judgmental? How does the public pastor differ from the private husband and dad? Does he take care of his physical self? Does he numb himself with too much social media or television? How would he fill in this blank: "If only I had ________"? How successful has he been in pastoring the congregation that is his family?

and this:

Protection Against All Other Loves
Only love for Christ can defend the heart of the pastor against all other loves that have the potential to kidnap his ministry. Only worship of Christ has the power to protect him from all the seductive idols of ministry that will whisper in his ear. Only the glory of the risen Christ will guard him against the self-glory that tempts all and destroys the ministry of so many.
Would someone please pick my jaw up from off the floor?  It's stuck in the "Whoa!!" position!  Be sure to read the whole article. 

More to come on the Korah series, soon!

Friday, April 20, 2012

I am No Luther

I'm certainly no Luther, but this post cracked me up in light of my current legal predicament.  It comes from a commenter "Friendly Observer" on the SGMSurvivors blog - a blog dealing with the abuses that past and current that members have suffered over the years at Sovereign Grace Ministries' churches under the leadership of C.J. Mahaney.   There are at least two blogs that have spotlighted the abuse issues and give a place for congregants to share their stories just as I have here.  AoR mentioned below is Ambassadors of Reconciliation - an organization that helps Christians in the mediation process.  They seem to not like the bloggers.  Oh well.  If the church would have handled the problems properly in-house, there would be no need to go elsewhere to speak the truth and give a voice to those victims who have not been allowed to have a voice. 

Have fun with me and pretend I'm Luther and you-know-who is The Vatican :)
As for the AoR guys, it’s ironic to me that they are Lutheran and especially ironic that they came down (predictably, by the way) against the blogs and bloggers.
Wasn’t Luther an early blogger? Sure, he preceded the electronic age by a few hundred years, but he could well have been “” right? Didn’t his initial blog entry (granted, his “Send” button was a hammer and some tacks) start a ruckus? Didn’t “” have serious issues with this blogging upstart? Had he been immediately “repentant” and silenced, there would have been no denomination bearing his name.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Milestone


We've reached 10,000 blog hits.  

Ideally, there should be no blog like this, period.  

But there is.  

And there are readers.  

And people who once were silenced are being given the opportunity to speak.  

They are commenting and telling their stories.  

They are reliving my story and your story.  

This is all part of the healing process and moving forward. 

For that,  I am thankful to play a small part of this process.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7:  All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.   He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.   For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.  Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation!   For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you.   Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.   We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 2

This is Part 2 of the Korah series.  In Part 1 we discussed pastoral authority and how the Korah scripture was used to exert imagined pastoral authority over people.   Another pattern I saw when the Korah scripture was used (or abused) is:  what happens when congregants ask questions.   We've touched on this subject before and it will most likely come up again and again because it is a key issue in abusive church situations:  asking church leaders questions.

Can I Ask You a Question?

When I am teaching music to students, I love it when they ask me questions.  It shows they are following along with me, they respect my opinions and experience, and want further information.  They most likely will improve their musicianship by increasing their knowledge base and applying it to their abilities.  People asking questions might be confused, might not understand, or might want to know more info.  It should not be viewed as a threat to ask a question.   It's not a threat to me if someone questions me.  In fact, there have been times I may have overlooked a small detail on sheet music and I appreciate that they are paying close attention to details.  I know that I'm far from perfect and they are well on their way to being fine musicians by noticing these details (even those details that I missed).   This actually excites me because I know they are progressing to a higher level.  It is thrilling for me to play a small part in someone’s life musically.

I think of a pastor as a shepherd who cares for the flock and a teacher.  If a pastor is confident about his teaching and beliefs, one would think he would be comfortable with people asking questions.   I'm convinced that when most people ask questions, they are trying to work out this particular issue in their own mind, not at all trying to create problems.  There are so many issues in the Bible that are open for interpretation.  We look to the shepherd of the church as a teacher of God's Word, one who has studied well, one whom we respect, and hope to find answers so that we can have the same assurances and confidence he has.

We are taught in school:  there is no dumb question.  Why is this seen as a threat for some pastors?  Is it a threat?  What do they think it is a threat to:   their knowledge,   their position,  their authority,   the church,  God’s Word?  Is there something they are trying to hide?  Do they not know the answer to the question?  Are they afraid that the congregant could be right and don't want to be proven wrong?  Are they afraid that the congregant may know more?  Is it wrong for a congregant to have more knowledge than a pastor?  Think about the situation where there is young pastor with congregants who have been Christians longer than the pastor has been alive.  Doesn't it make sense that congregants may have more knowledge/experience?  It is all very puzzling to me.

Why is it that sometimes questions are not answered at all, but instead the focus is turned around and put on the questioner?  Why does the person asking the question sometimes have to endure a barrage of questions of “why” he/she is asking the pastor a question, what their motive is, and is their heart right before the Lord?   Is it a sin to ask a pastor a question?  How is it that when someone asks a question, they are given scripture verses on how they are acting like Korah?   By calling someone out as if they are in the sin of Korah, are they not saying:  “I'm the authority and you have to obey me unquestioningly?

The bottom line and unspoken rule is:  do not question authority.  The cost has been dear for those who have dared to question Chuck O'Neal.  

Thankfully, that false power is no longer over us and we have the freedom to express our thoughts and opinions here.   

I admit - sometimes I let my mind wander:  what would my life be like right now had my questions been answered in a normal fashion as most pastors would?   Then I get back to reality . . . . . and keep blogging :)

Admin note:  This is a 4-part series:

Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 1
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 2
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 3
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here, Part 4

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here? Part 1

One recurring theme that continued to resurface in our time at BGBC was the "sin of Korah".  I've heard this used a number of times when congregants asked questions or shared concerns with the pastor.   It was brought up again recently in communication with someone privately and also in the blog’s comment section.    It’s time we paid a visit to Korah!

Why does Chuck refer to people as being a spiritual descendant of Korah, having the sin of Korah, or having Korah-like behavior?  

How can a name that sounds so pretty be so bad?    Let's see!

Here are some of the recent blog comments regarding Korah:

I SEE WAY TOO MUCH KORAH-LIKE BEHAVIOR HERE!!!!! LOL...couldn't help myself!

 In one of my weaker spiritual moments, I posted this response:

Did you really say Korah? HAHAHAHAHAHA

You are inkorahgible!

incorrigible = habitual, confirmed, hardened, dyed-in-the-wool, incurable, chronic, irredeemable, hopeless, beyond hope; impenitent, unrepentant, unapologetic, unashamed; bad, naughty, terrible.

Isn't the definition of incorrigible interesting when thinking about the story of Korah in the Bible?  

One of the comments referred to blog comments on Chuck O’Neal’s blog in which he warned a passing commenter:

You are in danger of being a spiritual descendant of Korah. I am reminded of a similar conversation Moses once had (no, I don’t think I’m Moses):
Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; 2 and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. 3 They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "YOU TAKE TOO MUCH UPON YOURSELVES, FOR ALL THE CONGREGATION IS HOLY, EVERY ONE OF THEM, AND THE LORD IS AMONG THEM. WHY THEN DO YOU EXALT YOURSELVES ABOVE THE ASSEMBLY OF THE LORD?"

Editorial note:  I kept the original form of the above quote intact (all caps) to ensure a true representation of Chuck O'Neal's words.   I assure you the Bible does not have bad netiquette.  Keep in mind, it is common knowledge that all caps is shouting.  He is coming across in an authoritarian fashion. 

2nd editorial note: I find it very interesting that Chuck assumes an authority position and rebukes the commenter in his response.   Who gave him that authority?  He is not even this man's pastor.  The commenter is a mere stranger!    Who does that?! 

Another comment on my blog:

OK...this is tooo weird. What is up with this Korah talk? Beside telling Jason (in the blog post) he was "in danger of being a spiritual descendant of Korah", I have a copy of a letter where he called someone Korah-like, and have heard of him using that term to describe one other family. So is someone Korah-like if they have a different opinion from Chuck O'Neal? Or if they question him? I happen to wholeheartedly agree with Jason's comment so am I now Korah-like?

It sure does sound like Chuck thinks he has the same authority as Moses.....just sayin...

Okay, so just who is Korah and why is Chuck accusing people of being a spiritual descendant of Korah or being Korah-like, or having the sin of Korah? 
Korah was a rebellious Levite who, with a number of other Israelite families, took exception to Moses' leadership in the wilderness, and conspired to overthrow him and usurp his authority. (see Numbers 16)

Read more:

In the above description of Korah, you see a leader and underlings who were trying to usurp Moses' leadership.  Now keep in mind all that we have discussed earlier.  While this leadership/underling setup occurred in the early Church, are pastors to maintain an authority position over congregants in the New Testament?  No, they are not.   Read here:  Pastors as Rulers - What Does the Bible Say? 

It sure sounds to me as if Chuck is saying the commenter is usurping the authority of Chuck’s “counsel”.   Are we in Old Testament times?  I think not.

Phil Harrelson in his very excellent series on spiritual abuse mentions how pastors can use scripture inappropriately in addressing rebellion in a spiritual abusive environment:

In the environment where spiritual abuse predominates there are frequent references in the public setting of preaching and in the private times of counseling that commonly brings up subjects like rebellion, accusations of causing dissension, and other methods of emotional intimidation. He will emphasize his own personal “anointing” and calling in an exclusive manner which serves in a way that dictates more than it serves. Frequently he will state that you cannot touch God’s anointed. He will call to mind biblical references of Korah, Dathan, Abiram, Absalom, and even Judas as a measure of control that heaps on guilt and further empowers the leader.   

to be continued . . . 

Admin note:  This is a 4-part series:

Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 1
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 2
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here?, Part 3
Just Who is Acting Like Korah Around Here, Part 4

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Disclaimer on Earlier Post: False Teachers

Earlier today I posted a blog post which I removed.  I was searching Google for "false teachers" and the words on the page rang true to me so I copied, referenced, and used them in the blog post.   Just a while ago an astute reader alerted me that the person who runs the site is a false teacher.  

Whoa, Nellie!  I wasn't expecting that one.   I do not believe any of the quoted post is false.  The original post was deleted, but the original was copied and posted below.   The irony is interesting - false teachers have no problem talking about other false teachers and miss that they may in fact be one!

A false teacher will mix truth with their own spin to satisfy their own sin nature.  This is what I believe we experienced at BGBC.  There was enough truth which lined up with scripture that kept us there.  We all stayed - some for a couple years, some for more than a decade.  We overlooked some of the trivial matters because there was so much truth.  Just as I believe the quotes below to be truthful, a lot of what Chuck preached was truthful.  Truth is truth, regardless of the source.   That is why I will keep the quotes on my blog (but not endorse the rest of the website).

If you read through the following paragraphs and think they do not line up with scripture, send me a note - either at or leave a comment.  

Here is the original post in it's entirety:

I found a few paragraphs on false teachers which rang true to me and wanted to share here.  They come from  
False teachers mix the holy things of God with their carnal thoughts, creating a false form of godliness. They can’t do otherwise, because they haven’t taken up the cross and submitted themselves to Christ’s righteousness. They are still in their sin nature, living unto themselves, teaching doctrines and commandments of men.
And because false teachers haven’t submitted themselves to Christ’s righteousness, they can’t lead others there. A false teacher is one who may speak truth, yet points his hearers in another direction.
This is the dangerous part about false teachers.  They can lead others on a destructive spiritual path, but perhaps not all:

Though false teachers lead astray, the Biblical truths they teach can lead to Christ those whom God has called and is choosing. The truth quickens those being given the gift of faith. However, faith manifest in the one who receives the truth does not certify as God’s representative the one who speaks some truth. The child of faith who walks in obedience to Christ will soon enough part ways with those who mix truth with error.

I am thankful that some of you who are reading this blog have heard the truth and have parted ways with one who has mixed the truth with error!

“They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts,
“On the day that I make them My jewels.
And I will spare them
As a man spares his own son who serves him.”
 Then you shall again discern
Between the righteous and the wicked,
Between one who serves God
And one who does not serve Him.
Malachi 3:17-18

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Bully Pulpit

"Pulpit", from the eyes of my 9-yr old son

According to, a bully pulpit is:  "An older term within the U.S. Government, a bully pulpit is a public office or other position of authority of sufficiently high rank that provides the holder with an opportunity to speak out and be listened to on any matter. The bully pulpit can bring issues to the forefront that were not initially in debate, due to the office's stature and publicity."

The correct definition of bully pulpit does not refer to a pastor abusing authority from the pulpit; however, using the literal meanings of "bully" and "pulpit" seemed appropriate to me when we were there.    Interestingly, I have been in contact with others who also used the bully pulpit expression in the same sense.  

The Bully Pulpit

You commit a sin.  You either get caught or realize the error of your sin.  You initiate a meeting with your pastor to discuss said sin, or perhaps if you are caught, you are called into a meeting with the pastor to discuss the situation.

Let's say everything is worked out in the meeting:  confession, contrition, repentance, forgiveness between all parties, and with God.

You think everything is fine.  You're forgiven.  The slate is clean and it's time to move on.  God's grace is sufficient.  Or perhaps it is not?   This thought is so important:   is God's grace sufficient or is it not?  Tuck that thought away.  It is an important theme in this blog.

Your heart is now clean and you look forward to attending the Wednesday night teaching.  You get to start fresh and want to walk in the light.  This is good.  Yea!

With Bible in your lap and ready to take notes, you ready yourself to hear the teaching.  The pastor starts preaching.  After the first few sentences a dark cloud descends on you.  The teaching is regarding the same sin issue that brought you to the pastor's office.  Your heart starts racing. 

He's talking about you and you know it.  He doesn't name your name, but you recognize certain details.  You feel hurt, ashamed, and betrayed.  This was supposed to be a fresh start. You have difficulty looking up at the pastor as he is teaching.  You do not want your eyes to connect and give the perception to others that this was your sin issue. 

You wonder if anyone else knows of your sin.  You keep your head forward because you don't want to see the eyes of others looking at you.  You feel guilty all over again.  You want to leave and weigh the options of leaving verses staying.  You decide to stay, but leave quickly when people are dismissed so as not to mingle with anyone who might know your story.  You especially don't want to run into the pastor.  This Wednesday service is not what you had hoped it to be.

A week goes by.   You convince yourself to go back - that the pastor is going to move on to a different topic.  You need to move on.  The following Wednesday, you find that the message this week is Part 2, a continuation of last week's teaching.  The wound has been scraped once again.  It bleeds. The same emotions from last week are overwhelming.

What should be healing, has not healed.  It is like a scab that has been scraped off or picked.   It may get infected.  Where there should have been a layer of new skin is now an open wound.  God's grace doesn't feel sufficient.   Does He really offer any grace at all?  It doesn't feel like it.

What thoughts and emotions are going through my mind now?  How does it feel knowing the possibility that my sin has been exposed to others?  Will they still accept me, love me?  Will this open up old wounds in relationships? 

On the flip side, if you are a congregant and hear a sermon like this, it makes you wonder who the pastor is talking about.  You know how this works.  You may have experienced it, too.  You might look around and try to guess who was caught in this sin.  What does this do to the unity of the congregation?   How does this make you feel toward the "sinner"?  Does it draw you closer or further away?  How does this make you feel about meeting with the pastor, knowing your sins very likely will be addressed publicly from the pulpit?  In a church this size, no names need to be mentioned and the sinner will usually be exposed in the form of holy gossip:  we need to pray for sinner "Joe" as he's really struggling.

This environment is hurtful for both the sinner and the congregants who see this played out before them.  There is confusion.  Sometimes this creates an environment where congregants begin to be on the lookout for the sins of others.  These informants feed the pastor news about members in sin.  These informants unknowingly create an unhealthy alliance with the pastor.  They perpetuate this destructive cycle of "sin sniffing":  sinner is confronted, pastor meetings occur, The Bully Pulpit lesson is taught regarding the sin.   Informants are given pseudo grace by the pastor and their own sins may be overlooked.  The emphasis of the church seems to be heavily on sin and repentance, not grace.  This is a travesty to the meaning of grace, the meaning of church, the meaning of a shepherd.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Is Your Pastor Acting as Your Holy Spirit?

Someone referred to an article in the comment's section of this post:  You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up, Part 2.   As I read the original article, this paragraph struck me. 

From the article, 'Authoritarianism in The Church" by Steve Martin
Sadly, in too many congregations today, sheep are driven by a man more like a callous meat packer than a loving shepherd. Many modern shepherds don't even like sheep; its just their business. In fact, men are encouraged not to get too close to the sheep or emotionally involved in their lives and problems. So many pastors don't actually like (let alone love) their people. They promote witnessing and world evangelization, they just don't like to be around individual sinners. One need only read of our Lord's loving compassion for the sheep-like sinners of His earthly ministry (Matt. 9:36, 14:14; Mark 1:40-41, 10:21) and recognize how far removed that is from many pastoral examples today. Sacrificial shepherd-love which lays down its life for the sheep has been replaced by loveless sheep management by uncaring sheep ranchers.

There was a big emphasis on evangelism at BGBC.  "Grace Bible Institute" consisted of 2-hr teachings on Sunday afternoons and was devoted to the topic of evangelizing.   Additionally, Friday nights were designated as evangelism nights and small groups would go out and evangelize in neighborhoods, local malls, public areas, etc.  Car washing events were planned in the summer on Saturdays specifically for evangelizing.  The radio ministry, pastor's blog, and Sermon Audio sermons sometimes focused on evangelism.  One cannot miss the evangelism emphasis at this church.  That is all good.  However, if the sheep are hurting and are not being cared for, something has gone awry - the shepherd is out of focus of his primary responsibility - tending the flock.

Some may defend that the pastor did care for his sheep and their problems - that he did have meetings with people who were having issues.  Yes, he did have meetings, but were they done as a loving shepherd would tend wounded sheep?  We've discussed these meetings before - sometimes hours long, Bible verse after Bible verse read outloud, urging the sinner to repent, heavy-handedness, tears, etc.  (This type of control and authoritarianism exerted in meetings can have devastating results on sheep, but we'll touch on that topic later.)

One issue that hasn't been brought up is the congregant's personal files kept by the pastor.  The pastor confirmed with me that he kept files on congregants.  I'm aware that pastors have to deal with many people.  Even professional and licensed counselors maintain personal files on their clients in order to follow progress and help them remember details so they can best help their client.  I get that.  But how were those personal files used?  It is my experience that the personal files were not used in a gracious way for shepherding, but in a berating and authoritarian fashion which takes me back to the yesterday's quote:

3. Unbelief: many office holders do not believe the declarative statements and promises of God in the Scripture. They do not believe that Christ is Lord of His true church and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. They do not believe that God the Holy Spirit is also Lord of the church, conforming God's people into His image. They do not believe God the Father will exercise His Fatherly love and discipline over the lives of His adopted children. In their unbelief, following hard on the heals of their own prayerlessness, authoritarian shepherds develop the mind-set, "If I don't make them do this, they won't!" or "If I don't make them do this, who will?" They really do not believe that the Holy Spirit will superintend His people and convict them of sin when away from the shepherd. Even as Christian parents must entrust their Christian teens unto the Lord as they drive the car down the driveway or leave for the university, so pastors must learn to trust God the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of His people when they are out from under the watchful gaze of their local under-shepherd. Sadly, such pastors create a "police state mentality" in their congregations where everyone's life is carefully monitored and scrutinized for any deviation, and "sins" are to be reported to the church leadership immediately."

2 Timothy 3:5
...having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Galations 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Galations 5:16-18
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Part of the job of the shepherd is to lead the sheep to the true Shepherd and help them to hear His voice.  I did not see that happening.  There was an overemphasis on sin - not only the current sin issue, but old sins as well.  Bringing up old sin issues that have been completely dealt with, repented, forgiven from long ago is not beneficial.  There's no grace and love in that.  (Love keeps no record of wrongs.)  Sheep were beaten down emotionally and spiritually.  It was as though the pastor usurped the authority of God by coercing the flock to heed his voice  - Chuck's voice - instead of the voice of the Holy Spirit.   In this kind of "lording" environment, sheep will have difficulty hearing the Holy Spirit.   It is difficult to hear the gentle prodding of the Holy Spirit over the lectures and never-ending rebuking sessions in the meetings.

We need to ask ourselves if there is an unbalanced focus on sin in our church?  Is there love and grace shown by the pastor?  Does our pastor gently guide us to God or do we primarily hear the pastor's voice?

John 10:27  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

From the Mind of a Child

I am a visual person and sometimes drawings help me to understand concepts better.  We have a budding artist on our hands.  He's 9 years old and loves to draw.  From time to time you may see his drawings here.  I wanted you to have a little glimpse of this precious child who loves to exercise his God-given creativity in drawing.  Through his pictures, we are able to see how his 9-yr old brain perceives things.  Sometimes our adult lives can be complicated in many areas and it's nice to take things down to the basics, the plain and simple.  I hope his drawings will take you to the plain and simple and will bless you as they have me. 

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 18:1-3

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up, Part 2

Today, I will continue part of the series we started earlier.  In You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up, Part 1, the topic was pink shirts and how Chuck O'Neal spoke against men/boys wearing pink because pink is associated with femininity.  

Today we will be discussing the topic of women wearing dark clothing:  black, brown, gray.  At a ladies retreat, we were told that dark colors were masculine and women should try to avoid those colors.  I must admit, when I first heard it, I looked around the room to see if other people had puzzled looks on their face because the concept was so foreign to me.  

Let me give a little background information.  This was taught at the yearly ladies retreat held at a retreat center.  Any other ladies retreats I have attended in my adult life (and my age tells me I'm no spring chicken),  have been taught by women, not men.  It is called a ladies retreat, right?  Well, Beaverton Grace Bible Church is unique.  We listened to long videos of recorded messages by the pastor - yes, the pastor, a man, taught the primary teachings via videotape at our annual ladies retreats.  I attended to two ladies retreats during my time there.  Both times, we listened to the same videotape and was told it was shown at least the year prior, maybe longer.  So, if my head couldn't grasp the concept the first year, I did have an opportunity the next year to make sure I wasn't hearing things.  I wasn't. 

I  searched high and low for references in the Bible indicating women shouldn't wear dark-colored clothing and couldn't find a thing.  I searched Google to see if there were any websites addressing the issue in the Bible with references.  I found a couple of examples describing the clothing women wore in Bible times.  Although these are not actual Biblical references, they are written by scholars of that historic time period and found that women did wear dark colors during that time period:

The garments worn by Jewish and Christian people of this period were fairly similar to those worn along the whole Mediterranean coast. However, traditional Jewish families still kept the Mosaic Law which forbade mixing wool and linen in the same garment.
Basic clothing was a tunic made from two lengths of woollen material joined at the top, with an opening for the head to pass through. It might have vertical stripes and be dyed red, cream/brown or black. A mantle/cloak made of wool was also worn; this was woven in one single piece of cloth. There was also a woollen or linen head-covering with a band that held it in place. (

 and this:

Most women in biblical times wore simple white clothing, although blue or black homespun was sometimes seen. Wealthy women wore garments of brightly dyed fine linen, often in scarlet or purple, and elaborately decorated with embroidery, jewels, and gold or silver detail (II Sam. 13:18). (

Now here's the thing.  Pastor Chuck O'Neal said that dark colors are not feminine colors.  I'd like to challenge that.  Here are  some pictures and you tell me if these clothes look masculine.


Truth be told, if I were to discard all of my gray, black, and brown colored clothing, I'd lose over half of my wardrobe.  

The traditional attire for an accompanist is all black so as not to draw attention to themselves.  The job of an accompanist is to showcase the choir/singer/musician and help them sound their best.  As an accompanist, I would feel very uncomfortable wearing colorful clothing on stage or in front of a church.  I like to hide behind the piano and colorful clothing would only draw attention to myself on a stage, pulpit area, or platform.

One interesting observation - I remember the pastor's wife wearing dark colors.  I always admired her taste in clothing and style.  I can picture her now in my mind wearing an outfit with black and a bright coral top and looking absolutely stunning and certainly feminine.  Maybe he didn't pay attention to what his wife was wearing because she did dress so well.   I can't think of her style as anything but feminine. 

Bottom line is this:  the concept of dark clothes for women as being masculine is a preference of Chuck O'Neal's.  It is not a Biblical concept or guideline. 

Ladies, if you want to wear black, wear it!   I know a husband who loves his woman in black.  Mine!