Saturday, March 01, 2014

City Church International Hong Kong: Ryan Rufus, New Nature Publications Etc…Grace For Control and Abuse?

I never write on the this blog anymore because I don't even like to associate myself with the church or christianity any more if I can help it.  I leave this up because it is a part of my journey, who I am and will become.  I have not thrown away my faith entirely but it's safe to say that my faith in religion and religious systems or set-ups of any sort is completely gone. I mean completely.  There are a few pastors/christians left that I still trust--warily.  I'm suspicious of even the ones I love most, maybe especially the ones I love most because I'm expecting them to turn on me at any moment in response to just about anything about me they may not agree with.  There are certainly lots of options to choose from.

The only reason I'm writing about this now is because I was such a supporter of this ministry in the past. I can't even tell you how many people I've recommended to listen to Rob Rufus (author of new book on leadership) or read one of Ryan's books.  Just a few weeks ago Aaron pointed someone to the City Church International website. We talked about Rob and how the message of grace he was preaching several years ago saved my life, our marriage, introduced us to the possibility of freedom and hope and joy.  So I'm still thankful for that, truly.

I've been to Hong Kong twice, the first time we even stay with Ryan and his family and we fell in love with them.  We had lunch with Rob and Glenda, they were wonderful to us.  We were so impressed with Rob's humility and the lack of authoritarian control in the church there. It felt so free. Are all such beautiful expressions doomed to ultimately fail as the appeal of power grows?  It seems so, sadly.

Recently just after the grammies Ryan posted a status that I found offensive and likely to be hurtful to gay people, so I commented.  Without discussion or any word to me at all, he blocked me on Facebook and proceeded to post 3 judgmental statuses on the public page of New Nature Publications.  I have screen shots of both if anyone wants to verify my account.   I have since found out that several members of their church have been kicked out and some even excommunicated or asked to never return or make contact again.  Not for horrible sins, but for having differing opinions or asking questions or in general not going along with leadership perfectly and easily.

I HATE this cult like behavior that is running so rampant. And this is supposed to be GRACE? I'm sorry, it's all a lie.  I won't sit back and say nothing. I see it and I'll say it because no one else ever ever ever will. I'm tired of being the only one who will say anything. I'm tired of being a woman and being treated with so little respect because of it.  I'm tired of it all. I hope I never set foot in a church EVER again.  Really.  Truly.  I'm am so done.

P.S. Some people are good targets for bullying. I am not. Nor is anyone in my vicinity.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

C.J. Mahaney Stepping Down From Soveriegn Grace Ministries...

Well, in my last post I said I didn't comment much these days on the SGM Survivors blog...these days I am again because so many things are happening right now.  In January of 2009 I wrote a short post in the form of a letter to C.J. Mahaney and company when Noel's story came out on the Survivor's blog and hope rose up in me and probably many others, that something would finally be done and the truth would come out.  It didn't, and eventually the dust seemed to settle and SGM made it through seemingly unscathed once again.   I thought things would always be that way, but maybe not, maybe not this time. 

A few days ago C.J. announced on his blog that he was stepping down temporarily to deal with some issues.  Shortly after  this, Dave Harvey wrote about this on the Sovereign Grace Ministries website, including mentioning that he would be taking over in C.J.'s absence (no surprise here).  And following all of  this, hundreds of pages of documents written by Brent Detwiler were released anonymously to wikileaks detailing very specifically longstanding serious issues within the highest echelons of SGM leadership.

 Aaron and I have been sitting together at the computer for too many hours reading through these documents, which I admit would be very boring to most people.  To us, it is fascinating.  You see, to hundreds of people who have been admiring followers of SGM leaders only to later leave for a variety of reasons, these documents say to us over and over "you are not crazy".  We thought we knew this, we thought we had moved past the pronouncement of insanity we felt for leaving, but this solid tangible proof has been therapeutic I think. 

Yes, some of the contents are disturbing of course, but it's truth.  It's what really happened.  Truth I can deal with!  I know many cannot deal with the truth and will want to hide from it or try to hide it still from others, but many people will benefit from it, some even against their will. 

This is not gossip, not bitter angry people trying to destroy a work of God, this is TRUTH.  Truth is good, even if the truth of a matter is not good, truth itself is GOOD.  With truth comes grace, Jesus comes with truth and grace.  So the fact is that even if truth is painful and difficult sometimes, to reject it is to also reject grace.  This is something we should all be terrified to do.  Think about it.

As for my personal feelings and thoughts about all of this, I am already long past anger and bitterness thankfully.  Overwhelmingly I feel sad, sad to think of what families are going through because of all this.  Yes, including the leaders themselves.  They have created an impossible system of  works based righteousness and God endorsed condemnation that is a lie and sets everyone of for absolute failure.  These failures are no surprise, they are/were inevitable.  I've lived that way myself and the fact that I may have caused less damage to people than C.J. is only because  my sphere of influence is smaller and my influence less powerful. 

I want to see things properly dealt with, leaders who have hurt people should make it right, whatever it takes.  Those who have shown themselves to be untrustworthy should be removed from positions that require trust.  Trust is not to demanded as a law of God, it is to be earned and guarded as a rare privilege.  Systems and doctrines that produce bad fruit over and over again should be very closely examined in a spirit of true humility, you know, that willingness to admit that you may be wrong.  The willingness to own up to your wrongs, admit them publicly, and make difficult changes, real changes.

I want to see people set free from lies and legalism.  Free from fear of man and rules and regulations.  Free from pretending and trying and working and failing.  I want to see people experience the unfailing love of their Father who is well-pleased with them!  I want to see people learn to rest in that love.

So I'm thinking of you all and praying for you.  Some of you I  know and love, some of you I don't know but I still love.  I haven't forgotten you, ever.  Because I was part of SGM, you are still part of me in a special way.  I still think of you fondly and I  still thank God for you all.    And I don't care what you've done or think you've done, or haven't done, THERE IS NO  CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE OF US WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS!  NONE NONE NONE!!!  So really, there is no reason to fear the truth.

Friday, July 01, 2011

When You Leave a Cult...

I guess it has been 5 years since we left, it's so hard to believe.  We live in a different country, have added  another child to our family, and we are different people.  Some of the people we left behind think we're different too but they don't see it as a good thing...

  It's easy sometimes to forget how your experiences shape your thinking and everything you do.  On some days I feel that we are so much freer and happier, and on others, well, I'm still just trying to survive.  Though I don't often comment anymore on the blog SGM Survivors, I have always followed it and speak up now and again, especially if I think my words can somehow be an encouragement to someone else who is leaving (or contemplating it).   I think it's good to remember where you've come from, so I'm remembering.  And I'm thankful.

I don't regret our time in SGM.  We met some amazing people, learned theological perspectives that were new to us, and in the end we crashed and found that God's grace was there to rescue us from the rock bottom. We learned to never trust in the charisma of men, not to be fooled by fine-sounding arguments, not to believe false-humility.  We learned through it all who we really are in Christ, and to NEVER let any human being dictate to us who we are or should be.  I think we learned that freedom is the right and privelege of every single son of God; spiritual, intellectual, and emotional freedom. It's  something that no one can take from us but we can be persuaded and deceived into giving it up. It's something I will never give up again by God's grace. 

And there are some marks left from  all that we went through.  I'm still cynical and suspicious of churches and leaders.  I can't bear even the slightest insinuation of male chauvenism.  I will bolt like a frightened animal at the first sign of someone wanting to put me in a cage or control me.  I don't trust people, or should I say, religious people.  And legalism?  Not on my watch. 

I think as time goes on I grow and heal, but I'm sure I am forever changed in some way.  Life is like that.  Today I re-read the letter I wrote to Aaron a few months after we left the church.  I read it once or twice a year probably to remember.  I smile when I think of all the wonderful people God used to help us and  love us during a time of such confusion and bitterness.    I told my husband I was moving out and leaving the kids behind.  I was afraid I would become abusive toward them because I was breaking down, depressed, suicidal.  I spent my days in bed crying and escaping the house alone whenever possible.  The people we left behind didn't know us because we had spent all our energy trying to be who we were supposed to be, we didn't know each other anymore, or ourselves. 

All I knew was that I didn't fit the roles I had embraced as  "biblical".  I was a failure as a wife and a mother, the very essence of who I was supposed to be as a woman  ( as I was told) and I was miserable being chained to those roles, confined and suppressed for lack of male anatomy.  And every time my mind dared to ponder even the edges of my feelings about it all the guilt would come crashing in on my head in powerful waves, I could feel the sickening weight of condemnation in my stomach.  Because I had been well-taught and I knew that to think these things was evil and proud. How well I remember the feelings of condemnation!  I used to think it was a mark of holiness and humility and worried if I didn't feel it for a moment!   I was addicted to guilt but it was killing me as surely as any drug. 

Aaron and I had lost any sense true intimacy and connection.  All that seemed to hold us together after leaving was the common misery we found ourselves in.  Thank God for the gift of wonderful friends  who had left or were leaving at the same time, we talked for hours and hours processing everything in detail in a way I'm sure anyone from the outside would not have understood.    We were warned about the dangers of anger and bitterness and unforgiveness by many but it was in the freedom of true friendship that we were able to let it all out and deal with it without fear of judgement.  And then there were a few pastors from other places that loved us and prayed for us and helped us to know that not all leaders are power-hungry controllers.  Not all pastors teach and train people to submit to all their wishes and worship them.  Some just love people.  It's true, they are out there. 

Over time, our marriage became a marriage again. As we learned how to be ourselves (instead of trying to be the perfect husband/father and perfect wife/mother) I guess we discovered again that we like each other, the real versions.  When you take the performance requirements out of your marriage, there is room for love again.  There is room to make mistakes and laugh and move on.  And kicking your pastors out of your bedroom doesn't hurt either. Ha.  You see, at first we didn't know how to do anything on our own we were so used to having every detail dictated to us.  How to discipline  your kids, how to submit to your husband, how to control I mean lead your wife, what to say if someone says this or that, how to pray, what to read, how your sex life should be, and on and on....there are always special meetingsto "help" you do everything and anything in your life.  

But we started to figure it out together, the way God intended I think.  We became a team, unified, best friends.  You can't be best friends with someone who is not your equal but we discovered that we were equal and we needed each other.  I wasn't just a slave anymore (gasp).  I'm not saying that Aaron was to blame here, I was just as brainwashed as he was.  I don't think either of us fit in to this pattern and acted contrary to it all the time but we felt so terrible when we fell outside the roles we were taught.

I am rambling...just reflecting...just throwing it out there that it's a hard thing to do to leave any religous/controlling culture, but it can be done!  You can survive it, you can overcome it, you can be happy and free.  Not always happy, not perfectly happy, but you can feel whatever you want, whenever you want.  Yes, you can have your very own feelings and thoughts and words again.  And when you do that, you'll find you start encouraging your husband/wife, children, friends, everyone, to be free too!   And you can read your old good-bye letters and suicide notes and be glad you pushed forward and moved on to greener pastures. There is only one true Shepherd and he won't lead you him.

Monday, June 06, 2011

My Ministry Bio

Julie Morris is a dearly loved son of God. Joint heir with Christ, seated with him at the right hand of God, blessed with every spiritual blessing, perfectly 100% righteous and holy, royal priest, called to do the work of Christ with the mind and Spirit of Christ in her, minister of life, reconciliation, and the new covenant, chosen by God, partaker of the divine nature,  and  comes highly recommended by her Father who is extremely pleased with her.   

Contact me if you'd like to have me come speak at your special event.  Ha!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Legalism, Lust, Porn, and Adultery

I'm tired so tired of all the smoke screens in churchianity.  All the fakeness. ALL.  Can't we just talk about life and be real?  Can we just stop pretending we're perfect people living in a perfect world?  Please? 

I'm 34 years old I think, and I've been married for over 15 years of that time.  To a man.  A normal man with issues from his past and childhood, stuff he has to deal with just like anyone else.  I'm a woman, formerly quite naive and stupid with no understanding of what it's like to be a man though having many other kinds of issues to deal with myself.  This is what I like to call 'life'.  Or more accurately, life in the fallen world which is only temporary.

Over the years, I've watched many marriages fall apart due to adultery etc...I've seen couples work hard to put up shiny happy images of their relationship for years only to find out they had all kinds of stuff going on in reality.  They never asked anyone for help, never admitted they were having trouble.  I know what that's like!  We've had our share of stuff to deal with, stuff that's normal if we'd only stop hiding it from each other.  Everyone thinks their problems are so much worse than anyone else's because everyone is LYING.  Yes, they're LYING.  I'm not saying there aren't any happy couple, but what I'm saying is that the truly happy couple are not perfectly happy and they will be honest with you about their problems.  Yes, HONEST.  What an idea, revolutionary!  (As a side note, I find it quite funny and refreshing that some of the people we thought were the most screwed up because they let everything out there now seem to be happy and are still together!)

If you ask me about problems in my marriage I'll tell you.  Send me an email and see.  Ask me anything, yes, anything.  You might not like what you hear but I don't mind sharing with anyone who would like to know.  You wives out there, did you know that many times your husband is told not to be honest with you about lust, porn, or any sexual struggles they might have?  That gets filed away under "she doesn't need  to know, just share it with another man" .  What a bunch of crap!  The best thing Aaron ever did for our marriage was to tell me everything he was dealing with, everything. 

And the best thing we can do now is not ever hide any of those problems from others but be honest about reality, because what's reality for us is reality for so many other people.  And here's the biggest secret:  once you stop hiding it the power is gone.  Once you realize that shame and guilt are the lie, the power of whatever  'sin' you fight against so pitifully just kind of melts away in the light of truth. 

This is a rant.  I'm sick of the self-righteous fake holiness air hovering over the spiritual people who claim or pretend not to ever deal with these kinds of things.  These are the very people who usually end up on the news caught doing the very things they vowed to have no interest in.   Haven't we gotten the message yet?  Have all the teaching and rules and regulations about what to look at, listen to, touch, or get near worked?  Or have they turned people into obsessive compulsive slaves to anything that will destroy their lives and families? 

Let's stop with the scarlet letter on people too, as if we were immune to any sin or temptation.  Let's view people according to the gospel, as washed clean and carrying the life of Christ in them.  And let's treat them as God treats them, not as their sins deserve.  Because it won't be long until you might be needing a little mercy yourself, and you won't find that in the law you used to whack somebody over the head with.

P.S. I love you all and I want you to be happy and free. No condemnation even to you fakers out there, I know you're scared out of your wits...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why the Rainbow Is the Perfect Symbol For the Gay Community! (says this christian...)

I'm not sure if everyone is familiar with the Bible story of Noah and the ark, but I assume most people are.  It's a pretty common story for children to grow up hearing, at least it used to be.  God sent a worldwide flood to destroy the earth and every living creature except Noah and his family and the animals he brought with him by God's instruction (and presumably the all the fish survived the flood as well).   Anyway, when the flood was finally over and the water receded enough for Noah to leave the ark, God gave us a sign of his promise never to judge the whole earth by flood ever again-- rainbows.  You can read the Biblical account beginning in Genesis 6. 

Nowadays we still have rainbows in the sky after it rains, and many groups and organizations have adopted rainbows as a symbol, including the gay community.  You might see a rainbow bumper sticker or flag or t-shirt, probably even tattoos I"m guessing.  You can find all sorts of info online regarding the history of the use of the rainbow to represent gay pride, I found a couple including this short blurb.  I think perhaps some religious people might feel that the gay community has essentially hijacked God's special sign to us and are offended or upset, concerned about the precious promise  the rainbow represents is being denigrated somehow.  But I think God is very pleased to have his sign of the gospel being paraded all over the earth by the very people who seem to bear the brunt of so much judgement and condemnation!

Sign of the gospel?  How did I come to that conclusion?  Well, actually the whole story of the ark is a picture of Jesus and how he carried us safely through God's wrath and judgement for sin.  When we are in Christ, we are never judged by God, can never be judged or punished for our sin, in fact our sin is all swept away in the mighty flood of God's wrath poured out on Jesus at the Cross.  The rainbow comes after the storm of his wrath as a sign to all generations that his judgement is OVER, as in FINISHED!  Think I'm stretching this too far, reading too much into it? There is a small reference in 1 Peter to baptism being like the ark...but one of  the best passages ever is this one:

"To me this is like the days of Noah,

when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.

So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,

never to rebuke you again.

Though the mountains be shaken

and the hills be removed,

yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken

nor my covenant of peace be removed,"

says the LORD, who has compassion on you. " (Isaiah 54:9-10)

Is this not the main clause of the New Covenant???  He promises never to be angry with us or rebuke us, it's his promise of peace, NO JUDGEMENT!!!!  I can't think of  many  more groups of people in the world that need to hear this message more than the gay community, and especially from  true Christians who love and don't condemn.  God is not counting men's sins against them!  It's rainbow time!

"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

I'm Not A Serious Christian.

It's funny how in today's online world  how we can be aware of people and places we would have long forgotten otherwise.   I have links to much of my past, casual links, but almost daily reminders of where I've been.  There are people I've known almost my whole life, leaders I admired as a child or teen, the truly serious Christians.  They are passionate, radical, and outspoken.  They are generally well-liked in their circles.  I like them too.  But sometimes I think "how tired they must be!".  I can't imagine being a serious Christian for 20, 30, or more years, I know I couldn't do it and besides that, I have absolutely no desire to.  I only tried my hand at it for 20 years or so, of course I started very young, but even for a young person it was tiring. 

Today I'm a Christian still, but more because I can't stop being one (if your definition of  a Christian is someone who believes in Jesus, that he is God, that he came in the flesh, lived and died to give us eternal life for free).  I can't stop believing in Jesus, it comes natural to me these days, pretty easy, simple and uncomplicated.  Some people hate this kind of faith, they don't think it's good enough or something.  They want to condemn me, mock me, or just dismiss me altogether.  That's ok.   I've traded in my serious Christianity for something much more joyful and restful.   I feel free.  This flesh is not perfect and never will be but my spirit is alive with Jesus, completely righteous, completely FREE.  I wish everyone would be free!