A Story of Deception and Deliverance

temptaton of Christ

And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:22-24 KJ2000)

Lie not in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place: For a just man falls seven times, and rises up again: but the wicked shall fall by calamity.
(Proverbs 24:15-16 KJ2000)

He who misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit; but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance. (Proverbs 28:10 RSVA)

I was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church as an infant and raised in it, so I didn’t have a lot to say about that until I was old enough to see that it was doing nothing for the hunger that God had put in me. Out of frustration as a young man, I finally went looking for something that could scratch my spiritual itch. Being steeped in religion, my next stop was the religion my wife grew up in, an Armenian type Bible church that at least knew about the scriptures pointing to salvation in Christ. The problem was that they did not believe that the Holy Spirit was needed to be a Christian, and that only the “ascended masters” (I jest) in the church got the Holy Spirit when they had “the very seed of sin” removed from their lives. The rest of the unwashed masses had to struggle along Sunday after Sunday, going up for the altar call and getting saved all over again because they sinned during the week. In reality, it was no different from my RCC experience there they told us that the sacraments were needed every Sunday for the same reason. As my wife put it, “They believed that Jesus had the power to save them, but not enough power to keep them saved, so they had to do that on their own.”

That church experience only lasted a couple of years until the itch to really know God in a personal way grew unbearable once again. He kept calling me to find His power that I needed to walk upright before Him as His son instead of groveling at the church altar every Sunday.

I became most miserable from some deep rooted issues that were hanging over and in me from the Vietnam War. I had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and didn’t know it. In 1969, nobody even talked about this mental disorder. I knew from what I was doing to my family that I needed help that I was not finding it in the churches. Finally, one Sunday in June 1970, I came out of my up tight little church and found a hand bill on the windshield of my car. It told me the Jesus People were holding park meetings. We went to check them out.

The park where the meetings were to be held was the local hippie hang-out park where local rock bands put on a free concert every Sunday afternoon during the summer. Imagine what this very straight laced couple thought as we saw hippies walking around with their wine jugs, toking on pot, and hippie girls in their long dresses and combat boots. The real shocker was a girl about 8 months pregnant wearing a bikini! But I was determined to see what these Jesus People were about, so we sat there in our Sunday best looking totally out of place.

Finally, a group of kids gathered that were not like the rest. They had the long hair and funky clothes (no bikinis), but they were different. Their faces shone with the presence of the Lord and I had never seen that in any church! I found out what they had that I didn’t–they had been filled with the Holy Spirit. By the end of a couple more park meetings, I found out what God wanted–an unconditional surrender of all that I had been, was and ever hoped to be, everything I owned and clung to on this earth, and even my family! One young man explained that if I was going to be filled by His Holy Spirit, I had to be emptied of myself. I knelt down after one meeting and did business with God. I confessed it all, sins past and present, and surrendered everything to Jesus without any conditions.

That was the turning point in my life. The next morning I woke up a new man in Him. I fully expected that God would take away everything and in time many things that had been so important to me dropped away as He put His order in my life. And yes, I got to keep my wife and kids. I didn’t speak in tongues and all that Pentecostal stuff, at least not at first, but for the first time in my life I had power over sin. I could choose not to sin or to cave into it and that was a real breakthrough for a man who was still a Catholic sailor in his mind. I was now a new creation in Christ!

As usually happens, the enemy could not allow a group of people to be running around in the freedom of Christ with shining faces. A man came in among all these new believers that were saved out of Hippie-dom and started to take the preeminence one small step at a time until he had total control over all our lives. He knew the Bible better than any of us and also knew how to twist it to give him the power he needed to take control. My wife and I were under this man for six years and by the time he was through, he had replaced Jesus in all our lives, His Spirit was quenched in each of us, and the voice of His Spirit was drowned out by this man’s cleaver arguments and teachings. Later we learned that the leader had studied the mind control books by Peale, Carnegie, and Napoleon Hill and was using them against us.

After escaping from that man-made hell, we tried some “normal” churches for a while, found them lacking, and ended up in non-denominational church that was small and personal and started to feel like family. They loved us back to life and we started to recover our freedom in Christ among them. That went well until the pastor resigned and the assistant pastor rose up and brought in men from outside the area that took over and started to shape the group into another cult under their control. We recognized what was going on quicker this time and got out, but not without some severe spiritual wounding in the process. If cults cannot control you they try to kill who you are as a person.

Don’t kid yourselves, even the so-called “main line churches” are guilty of these practices! They do this by bringing your salvation into question or even saying that you are demon possessed. Some dear saints have their faith destroyed by watching the church leaders fall into sexual sin or even being sexually molested by the leaders themselves. Satan is good at what he does and knows just where we are vulnerable. In my case the cult leaders used a brother in Christ I had walked with for many years, meet with me and ask me if I had ever been saved. After that I was gladly ready to go off into the wilderness for I had had all that “fun” with these Christians I could stand.

The next part of my walk–a spiritual wilderness–lasted 14 years. Part of the wounding from the cult was what I call “scape goat-ism.” They lay their hands on you and put all their sins (blame casting) on you, and send you out in the wilderness to die (see Leviticus 16:20-22). Many of you know what this is all about. I was angry and bitter most of that 14 years and that had a lot to do with it lasting so long. I was mad at God for what He let His people do to me, my wife, and my family! After about 12 years, I finally came to see my sin against God and confessed it to Him as sin. Then He started to slowly heal my heart over the following two years.

In 1994, I was totally released of all the pain and wounding and had an encounter with Jesus that restored my first love for Him. Since then, my church experiences weren’t any better, but I was able to see what was of Christ and what was of the flesh and not come under condemnation any longer. I knew who I was in Christ and that kept me clear of deceptions and condemnation. After that the Lord brought me into a writing ministry and put me in fellowship with George Davis. We have co-authored several books and articles on spiritual matters concerning God’s kingdom and what we have learned along the way. If you are interested, you can find them on our website at: http://www.awildernessvoice.com.

God bless you for taking the time to read all this. I hope it helps you see how “the very elect can be deceived,” yet overcome the wicked one by the power of God calling you to Himself as your loving Father and releasing others as He does.

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42 comments on “A Story of Deception and Deliverance

  1. Scarlett says:

    Michael, many of us, the walking wounded, have been victims of “church enduced” PTSD, (another kind of war). I was one of those. It has taken many years to even begin to feel a full recovery.
    We wonder why Jesus doesn’t just zap us out of it, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. It is a process of continual recovery. At least it has been in my own experience.

    People may wonder why we post these kinds of warning messages. It’s because we’ve been there and done that, and out of our love for others, we don’t want them to suffer, (and in these churches, they most surely will), and go through similar experiences, or even be driven away from the Savior who can heal and deliver them.

    God bless you for your heartfelt testimony. I hope it reaches far and wide, even into the very churches you speak of.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Scarlett,

      Yes, the recovery for me has taken years from years of emotional abuse in the churches. What made it bad was that I equated church leadership in its different forms (priests, pastors, nuns, bishops, prophets, apostles, etc.) with Jesus… big mistake. It took me years to understand that there is only ONE Mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ. And that there is One flock and ONE Shepherd. Letting humans take the place of Jesus was the common source of all my abuse. Yes, sister, we have been their and done that and I have a whole sea-bag full of bloody T-shirts to prove it.

      In about 1904 Lord Acton of England was speaking to an Anglican bishop and said, “It is not a question of who has the right to rule. NO ONE has the right to rule. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Most pulpit power is never questioned and thus it eventually becomes absolutely corrupt and the wounding of the people goes on and on. But at one point I had to let go and let God and let HIM chose my battles. Sister blind guides need blind followers and blind followers need blind guides. God has ditches for them to fall into that are NOT terminal but rather they are great teaching aids. I had to fall into a few of them to finally figure out that I was not supposed to be following humans instead of Jesus. Some things have to be learned by experience. God rubbed my nose into everything He wanted me to never do to His sheep. If He hand not, I would have been one of those abusers myself.

      Scarlett, I would love to read your testimony as well. Let me know if you have it posted somewhere.
      Your brother who is also acquainted with many of your griefs,
      Michael

      Like

      • Alan - Mr. Waddington says:

        Michael, I love your reference to the “blind being leaders of the blind, then they both will fall into the ditch”. God has spoken truth to me through that, thank you Lord for using my dear Brother. I love you bro

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Alan, it is always a blessing to hear from you, my brother! Yes, I used to be quite upset about the captivity of the people in the church systems and the abuse that many of them suffer there. Then one day the Lord took me to that passage where Jesus is telling the disciples to leave the scribes and pharisees along with their followers alone and let it run its coarse.
        Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Know you that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matthew 15:12-14 KJ2000)
        Apart from Jesus we can do nothing and every plant that Father has not planted will be rooted up. Ditches for blind followers and their blind guides are inevitable. If the Lord had not let me fall into numerous religious (effluent filled) ditches over the years as I wandered through Christian City, I would never have got the message that I was to follow HIM and not men and that “the HEAD of every man is Christ,” not Paul, Apollos, Peter or any other larger than life figure out there. Can God use brothers to speak to us through? Absolutely, but we do not make them our lords and let them take the place that belongs to Christ in our lives for this nothing less than idolatry and pure folly. We are ALL to submit to one another in the Lord and each one of us has been given a metron with which to bless the rest of the body and it is good to see so many on this blog doing so.
        Thanks, Alan. Bless you, my brother!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you for sharing your testimony. It brings the glory to where it belongs, the Lord Jesus. It brings joy to us the hearers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mia says:

    Oh dearest Michael

    About your time in Dorothy’s church you attended where only “have arriveds” had the sweet Holy Spirit called Saraju (an ordinary wind) but one early morning I was woken up by Jesus. He softly with a voice asking just to come to Him. I was very nurse [nervous?]. Mia ””

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for sharing this, Mia. So, you had a visit from Jesus? I had a vision once where He saved me from an attack of the devil and came as this being that was clothed in light with love just pouring out of Him for me. The love took away any fear that I might have had from this attack of the enemy.
      Bless you, my sister.

      Like

  4. oikoskrk says:

    Any way of “churching” that inhibits our freedom in Christ is anti-christ. NO matter how you slice it. Thanks for sharing Michael.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      According to W.E. Vine the meaning of Antichrist – Grk. antichristos – can mean either “against Christ” or “instead of Christ.” The most common of the spirit of antichrist is “instead of Christ.” Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, but when a man rises up and usurps His place in the eyes of the saint or takes control of the “his” church he get between Jesus and HIS church. That is antichrist. This improper relationship of a man lording over the flock inhibits the relationship of Jesus and His flock and their freedom to follow His Spirit. John warned, “Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, that it might be plain that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:18-19 RSVA). “Out from, not of us”… how about this wall called clergy-laity separation? Thanks Chris for the reminder.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. kenneth dawson says:

    Mike that is a good warning to all–antichrist=instead of Christ–my experience with Christianity in its broadest terms is that I feel safer when im away from the churchy folks–I grew up without churchianity and then when I got birthed into gods life I went into the church and that’s when all my problems started–now im sort of out of the mainline church stuff except for meeting with the folks at Emmanuel–who distribute T.Austin Sparks books world wide and the fact that I work for a company that is contracted to oral Roberts university in the area of shipping and receiving–I have always seemed to prosper spiritualy since my spiritual awakening in 2001 when im alone with the lord and the two of us can talk to each other as friends–I struggle when I try to meet up with others who say they are Christian with the exception of the ones I deal with on line and facebook is really a joke…anyway I treasure your friendship and that girl from Germany-Sue.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Kenneth. I hope you remind me a bit in advance when the Emanuel group have another conference. It would be good meet you all. Yes, Susanne is a treasure. She is that broken alabaster box that has been poured out on our Lord through much suffering. I am glad to be your friend, Kenneth, and hope we get to meet soon.

      Liked by 2 people

    • @ Ken D and Mike DC 😉

      Thanks so much for your compliments, my brothers. I highly appreciate knowing you, too. Again, the German girl named Sue says, “Thank you!” 🙂

      Since you posted your blog article as a comment on my site before (though a bit changed, cf. https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/when-the-morning-star-rises/comment-page-1/#comment-373), I knew and loved reading your testimony beforehand, Michael.

      I dare say here that I would to be glad to see more of your readers commenting on my blog as well because I always benefit from those various replies on “A Wilderness Voice”. In my humble opinion, a Christian blog should not only represent the take of the blogger on various issues – NO, in my view, a Christian blog represents a part of the Body of Christ, and therefore, the more commenters share their own opinions, the richer the fullness of Christ will be revealed.

      Thank you, all commenters of THIS site, that you have helped to build the spiritual House of the Lord – in His LOVE… ❤

      Every blessing to you,
      Susanne

      Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Susanne,
        It is always good to see you on here with your comments. I would appreciate it and think it would be helpful if you could post a link to the right spot on your blog that best tells of your story and history as far as church/cult captivity and how the Lord saved you from all that? You have been through so much and He has and is still putting you (and the rest of us) through His refining fires, that you might come through it all as that bride made ready for the Bridegroom at His return. Yes, I hope that more of the saints share their own histories (His story) on our blogs as well. Getting beyond that passive T.V. viewing mindset that church attendance instills in us takes some courage, but we ALL have been given a part of the supply of God that belongs to the whole body of Christ and need to share it. “What then, brethren? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” (1 Corinthians 14:26 RSVA)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael, here’s the link to the post of which you probably spoke of: https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/spotting-sectarian-spirits/ since it includes my testimony as for my church history.

        Regarding all commenters (past, now, and not yet 😉 ), I’d like to encourage everyone to add their personal part which is doubtlessly sooo precious to all the others who read in on here (or elsewhere), for it is written,

        “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” (1 Cor 12:7-11 ESV)

        I believe that our Lord still works miracles, even via internet. Am looking forward to see them happen soon… 🙂

        Much love to ALL ❤ ❤ ❤
        Susanne

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Thanks for your encouragement, dear sister. This is one of the blog entries in which you addressed your church experience, but this one is more of a teaching than the others where you shared the damage they did to you and what you had to go through to recover. I think that most of your posts during the month of August of this year were on a very personal level as you dealt with the pain of things that had been done to you in the past, though not all of them had to do with church abuse. I think your “The Burden of False Guilt” http://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/the-burden-of-false-guilt/ was really good and addressed something very important in a very personal way. Much love to you as well and may the Lord continue to not only heal but to protect you in the days we face ahead.
        Michael

        Liked by 1 person

  6. hermitsh says:

    It is good to read your testimony again in depth Michael.
    PTS can really be a problem and doubly so when it comes from being around the ‘church”.
    My personal heresy is that you have to be asked to leave a church three times before you are saved!! Joke. But I do qualify!
    I was raised in Presbyterian church run my an eldership most of whom, including the minister were Masons. Strangely, didn’t have too many issues with this experience but attended a camp with an on fire young minister who told me I would be better off going bushwalking than attending church so I followed his advice gladly.
    Next, 7years of becoming an atheist, raising a family etc until my husband had an affair and I realised I needed God again. Tried giving my life to God over and over, joined a Charismatic Anglican group and still nothing. One day, I read a book called God Calling and it was as if a curtain was flicked back and I suddenly saw that God was interested and involved in every aspect of my life and [I] said in wonder “Do you really love me like this?’ and was flooded with love such as I had never known. I spoke in tongues, communicated with God in a way I had never before experienced and lived in Heaven for 5 months.
    One day I was told to tell the vicar he was in spiritual adultery so , all bright eyed and bushy tailed I did that. Went over like the proverbial lead balloon! He denied it, his wife followed me out and said how did I know. Told her I didn’t, only doing what I was told. I didn’t even know who it was!
    Eventually went to an overseer in the church to say I wasn’t coping with all the lies and cover up and he went to the vicar, who denied it all. Asked to leave. Did.
    Phase two. Went to an up and coming pentecostal church for three years. So cult like it was scary in retrospect. I became completely brain washed until one day I saw the pastor with his little girl and alarm bells went off. Found out later he had been abusing his girls, robbing the church, had two affairs, you name it, he did it. Again asked to leave as I was not able to smile and pretend everything was ok.
    Back to Anglican church as the affair had ended but was never made public so , in their eyes I was a ticking time bomb. The entire leadership were dismissed, among them me and I still kept on trying to deal with stuff in an open way.
    Eventually left. Went to a Church of Christ, the leader was and is a man of integrity at last but had a dream telling me things weren’t what they seemed so left there. Over 20 years ago.
    Been out of the institution ever since. Occasionally attend a meeting but can’t stand the carry on any more.
    The wilderness is a wonderful place to know God. No intermediary at last. Just Jesus and me. Miss the people, but the price simply isn’t worth it to be caught up in what I now know to be not what God intended. He told me to come out and touch not the unclean thing.
    Since then I have read so much and now know that my reactions to the structure and titles is entirely valid.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Sandra,

      Thanks for weighing in on here with your own church experience and how it has led you to finding Jesus as your ALL in all with no human mediaries. You are one of the few people I know that ended up in a LITERAL wilderness in the process of all this, on an acreage in the middle of the outback of Australia for the last 12 years. God does some strange thing His wonders to preform, wouldn’t you say? 🙂

      Most of us start out in churches of men with our umbilical cords in our hand as spiritual infants seeking a man to plug into and often find one. But sooner of later God has to cut that cord, tie it off and put us on the breast of Christ where we can finally nurse on the sincere milk of THE WORD, His very own Spirit as our Teacher (see 1 John 2:26-27).

      Sooner or later if we are sincere about pursuing Jesus, God will isolate us from the confusing influences of men one way or another so that we can learn to hear HIS voice without all the other voices confusing us any longer. Jesus put it this way, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28 RSVA). “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:5 RSVA).

      Thanks for sharing your rich heritage in Christ with us. He has been doing a wonderful maturing work in you, my sister, and I can hear it in what you write and share with us.

      Like

      • Dear Michael, your post reminds me of so many things happening in my life. My post “In transition:part of a borrowed post” comes to mind. Also “Doctrine vs Life”.

        I am yet to share fully how the Lord led me away from religious institutions and is still leading me away from man-made teachings and its effect.

        I am currently going through the period of isolation and questioning and accusation from former church members. I believe I am “being prayed for” as I have “been possessed” by an evil spirit who has led me out of “our almighty church-which the worship leader insists is the body of Christ”.

        It is indeed a time of trusting in the Lord!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Ngozi, Where you are at at this time is all too familiar to many of us. God gave us a word for our former “church” leadership on the errors they are in and we were demonized and rejected. As the saying goes, “If you can’t refute the message, shoot he messenger.” Even if you never opened your mouth, they knew that you were not one of them and that in itself made you a LIVING accusation. So, being that they are of their father the devil and his works they will do (see John 8:44), we can expect that we who are IN Christ will get the same treatment He did. It is so sad that men think that just because they stand in and behind some man-made institution that they are righteous in the eyes of God. Jesus said it so well when speaking of the institution that the Jews had build our of the writings of Moses and the traditions of the elders, “Every plant that my Father has not planted will be rooted up.” So, the judgment of God is on everything that is not born of Him and Jesus came to lay His ax to the root of everything other than the TRUE Vine to which Father has grafted us into and He prunes us as well that we might bring forth HIS fruit. AMEN! So be it.
        I will read the to posts you mention above, dear sister. Bless you an keep you IN Him always.

        Liked by 1 person

      • God bless you Brother. I am in the middle of writing my part of it. It brings out a lot of emotions. Most of all is the realisation that our Father is NOT who a lot of people think He is. He is so much more. So much more than humans have wrapped their heads around to believe.
        He intends to reveal that Truth to whomever seeks Him in Spirit and in Truth, without agenda…sans self!

        Keep shining for Him dear Michael and God bless and keep your family.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Ngozi, may He bless you as well as you seek His face and become what you gaze upon, dear sister. I am looking forward to reading more about your life and what Father is doing in you.
        Michael

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Joe says:

    Thanks Michael for this very personal testimony. My wife and I pulled out of the church system about 6 years ago when the revelation came that we were to be one body with no divisions. 1 Corinthians 3 really jumped off the page for me and I realized that if I didn’t move on I was either carnal or a babe not ready for meat. I didn’t want to remain in either category so we left and have been growing ever since.

    Who would have thought that we could have fellowship by leaving what is commonly called fellowship? We have been learning that our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. As we walk in His light, He has put us together with other members of His body in the local area. I see the body being built up on this blog as well. It is so good to see that the Lord is able to get us where He wants us. The high calling of being one body with one shepherd is not just figurative language–it is possible as we submit to Him!

    Please pray for those other brothers and sisters who are still undecided about what to do with the system. We have dear friends who are wrestling with how to proceed. They know they are not being fed in their “church” but they know the persecution that awaits if they move on so it seems they justify that maybe they can make a positive change in that group. We also thought we could change the system at one time but then the revelation that Christ was to be my head without a mediator, and the call to be one flock came and I realized that it didn’t matter how many changes I could get the group to make, it was still going to fall short of the Father’s plan.

    I think it is going to be more than doctrine that will persuade the double minded. It is very hard to refute the living testimony of people who have been with Jesus. Let us truly love those around us as you have shared so well in your earlier posts this past week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right, Joe. Leaving the church felt like an abomination for me but I knew the Lord was “dragging me out” as it became torture in my Spirit each sunday being there.

      Persecution, like I have never known in ways of silent treatment and sending me messages in the middle of the night addressing me like I have sinned and I am crazy has been some of them.

      The Lord is my ONLY hope.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Michael says:

    Hi Joe, I can see by your email address you live in Canada. Have we communicated before? I know a Joe in Ontario and was wondering it you are the one.

    Yes, 1 Cor. 3 is great chapter for showing that we are not to be under men and that all things are ours in Christ who is our Head. Why I was so blind to these simple truths in that chapter for so long is beyond me. I guess I just wanted a man more than I wanted Jesus for all those years and read everything through that filter.

    Yes, brother, our fellowship is with the Father and the Son and then with one another (1 John 1:3). Just like John said, IF we are walking in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another. Yes, I have greatly enjoyed the fellowship that we have together on this blog. Sandra in Australia, Susanne in Germany and numerous saints in the USA in TN, TX, NC. OH, CA, ID, LA, OK, MI, MA, MT, MN, you in Canada to name a few. We are a scattered remnant, but we are one IN our Lord and love one another.

    As for changing that church system, good luck! Once something gets that big and ingrained in the minds of people, there is not much hope, Jesus made it clear that He was not going to change Judaism from what it had become. You can put new wine in an old wineskin. God always starts over with something new. “Behold I make all things NEW.” If we are moving with the Spirit wind we also will be made new, or we can be like the Jews who cling to their traditions and “always resits God’s Holy Spirit.”

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences on her, my brother!

    Michael

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    • Joe says:

      I have posted on here once before. We are in Manitoba, Canada where the leaves are just starting to change color. We may be a scattered remnant and yet it is encouraging to know that we are not alone.

      Thanks for showing your love for the brethren by freely giving what you have received. There have been so many attempts at internet fellowship in the past that all seem to fail and become argumentative. It is a joy to see that as people seek to give Christ the preeminence in everything, we can be edified even without knowing each other in a very personal way. Branches connected to the same root drinking from the same sap produce the same fruit whether the branch is at the top or the bottom of the tree. (That sounds like a hierarchy but I hope you see what I mean).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Joe and all,

        How often I have wished that we were no all so scattered over the globe and could come together face to face. But somehow God has seen fit to draw us together to Him separately during this season. I thank Him for the internet, though, in that we can continue to encourage one another even from a distance. For us on a local level there is a handful of saints that God has brought together, but even then we are still working out our own salvation with the working of the Lord on a daily basis. But the love of the Lord keeps us humble and keeping the offenses that rise up forgiven and the love for one another grows in the process. I have to say that it is by HIS great grace among us that this is possible.

        Yes, I am with you, Joe, I have seen many an attempt at internet fellowship fail as someone comes in and make themselves the “duty hallway monitor (thinking of Catholic school here)” or “the brother with the more perfect word” that has to correct everyone who posts. This hierarchic mindset kills openness among the saints and the more humble ones drop out first and leave the more soulish ones to argue endlessly. I think it is the grace and love of God that has kept that from happening here. I praise in with all my heart for each of you! What a wonderful thing God has done to let us come to know one another this way.

        Love you all very much,
        Michael

        Like

    • Gordon Halford says:

      Hi Michael and Joe, here’s another interaction from Australia… the internet is good for some things 🙂
      Our experience here is very similar to you all. Father took us (family of four) out of the ‘system’ about 9 years ago. We never knew there to be anything other than ‘attending church’, and then Father blew all that to smithereens, and showed us something completely different – something that He had in mind all along !
      Since then its been both a wonderful and a challenging journey, finding out that pretty much everything we ‘knew’, ‘thought’, ‘assumed’ and ‘understood’… was flawed or plain wrong !
      Not necessarily a very easy journey ! …and no doubt there is a way to go yet !
      One thing I have concluded along the way is that unless Father actually takes someone out of the ‘system’ Himself, it is not necessarily helpful for a person to leave, and its nigh on impossible to be able to see the problems when you are embedded within the ‘system’.
      Some have spent time with us, and not understood, because they have not been ‘taken outside the camp’ by Father, but have chosen to leave for other reasons – personal disenchantment, disagreements, etc.
      The transformation of our minds needs His tender loving care, to obtain the desired result, without all that worldly influence. I have spent much unhelpful and ineffective time trying to dialogue with people in the ‘system’ about the problems of the ‘system’, to no avail, and perhaps with rather negative results. I regret some of those discussions, as being out from myself, rather than out from Him ! These days, I am loathe to dialogue with people about these things, until I hear Father’s voice clearly encouraging us to.
      I’m not sure if this will help anyone, so please ignore if its not helpful, but one thing I did some time back was to note down the juxtapositions between the ‘system’ and the church as Christ’s body. Thoughts and feedback are always welcome ! 🙂
      https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=764755030FE68F66!967&authkey=!ALHrtqPnvOInNFg&ithint=file%2cpdf

      Blessings in Christ, Gordon (Vic, Australia)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Hello Vic/Gordon,
        If I remember correctly we communicated by email a few years back, possibly over one of the articles I wrote on our website back then. Anyway, it is good hear from you again (or this first time whichever is the case). I have to agree with your comments here and your juxtaposition. As I read what you just wrote I have to think about how much alike coming out of the church systems of men is like the Hebrew people coming out of Egypt. Out of about 2 1/2 million of them only two of them made the cut at that end of that 40 years in the wilderness! Not very good odds I would say. Aaron, Miriam, Moses– Not even these made it as they failed to sanctify God before the people and took the leadership into their own hands (or sought to). The rest failed the test as their vision fell short of going out of Egypt unto God alone, seeking His face instead of their own fleshly ways. They were still Egyptian idolaters at heart and God proved them to be so through many testings for those 40 years.
        So, all these things have been written for our instruction today. What do we have today? People still come out of Egypt, that highly regulated slavery ruled over by human kings, and they head out disgruntled with no clear call from God to do so and what happens? In a short time they are building their own smaller pyramids in the shadow of the Great Pyramid (house church organizations), or they get as far as the foot or Mt. Sinai and refuse to go up and sup with the Father as His family and stay down below while Moses and the elders go up… and we know the rest of the story.

        Without a heavenly vision the people perish. God has to be the ONE who leads us outside the camp where there is much reproach, but having a clear vision of the leadership of Jesus Christ over the ecclesia of His called out ones is enough to keep us going to Him to have our hearts cleansed from all bitterness and the offenses of men for “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Herein is the key. Walking in His great light of the Spirit of God, being forgiven and cleansed of our sins on a daily basis and drawing ever closer to His light and walking in it together. This is true fellowship. And if anyone of us says that we have no sin it is a lie. Why cover ourselves with darkness when we have the blood of Jesus there to keep us clean? As John goes on to say, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
        You see, God has made every provision in the fellowship of the saint for us to walk in HIS light together. It is up to us to not make provisions for our flesh, but to have singleness of eye fixed on Him alone where He fills us with His love that makes our fellowship with one another possible as members one of another in Christ’s body.
        Blessings to you, also, my brother. It was good to hear from you.
        Michael

        Like

  9. Gordon Halford says:

    Hi Michael, yes I have posted a couple of times before, but maybe not mentioned that we are from Victoria, Australia, and yes, we have communicated by email before – can’t remember what about now ! I often read the entries on your blog, and much appreciate them, and many of the follow on comments as well.
    Walking in His light together, yes that’s the key.

    Gordon

    Liked by 1 person

  10. RussC says:

    Hi all, The path God has taken me has been similar to some here. I came out of a life of drugs, crime and atheistic/agnostic confusion at age 24. Jesus allowed me to see for the first time in my life. I started going to a Church of Christ and I would say I grew in the Word and in the Lord. I met some wonderful Christians there that has had a good effect in my growth. It seemed to me like I experienced the Holy Spirit in some ways that no one else there was. I wondered why and kept going. It seemed to me like I was the only one wrestling with wrong thoughts and an inability to yield my life to Jesus the way I thought I should. After about 25 years I decided that I was not in the church I should be in. I went to a more charismatic church and it seemed like most had come from a life of sin and I could see God working miracles that I was always told had ceased. I was glad to see the Lord’s presence. The problem there seemed to be that very few were growing out of their sin. I also felt like most had Christ as an extension to themselves. I started going to a House Church with my son. It was fair but I didn’t feel like people was being fed the Word like they should. I quit going there after a couple of years and quit going any where for six years. I believe the Lord started me reading Christians Classics and was blessing me me with them. I’ve read most everything by Tozer, Chambers, Nee, Andrew Murray and so forth. As time went by I felt some things were missing. I still could not live like I should and battled daily, only to be frustrated again and again. I asked the Lord to put me where I could be fed and if possible feed someone else. I went to several places and it still pretty much felt like the church was about the people. I kept looking. One day I walked in one and right by the door were all of the classics that I had been reading. I liked that. As I went more, I could see that it was all about Jesus and not them. They helped me see that the old man of Rom 7 will continue to nag me but that, that is not me. Jesus truly loves me in spite of “me being effected by sin”. I have found I can rest in His goodness and ask Him to teach me what He wants me to know. I am finding a power in seeking Him with a whole heart.

    I guess I say all this to say church can be had and sometimes you need to leave. Yes the people there had a lot of issues and I don’t really think God wanted me to stay. But the truth is I had (Pause intended) a lot of issues too. Time in the wilderness was good for me. But it doesn’t provide what Christ does when you are meeting with His body (people) and He is the Head.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Russ, thanks for sharing your story with us. Your time in the Church of Christ was similar to my time in the Free Methodist church which lasted until I got filled with the Spirit by the Lord in that park outreach by some Spirit filled Jesus People in 1970 and went back to the church filled with new life! Well, Like Jesus said, you can’t but NEW Wine in an old wineskin or it will burst. Instead of me being able to encourage them to receive what was missing (why that church was so dead), they chose to reject what I had and informed me how dangerous this “Holy Spirit stuff” was. After becoming a pariah to them, more like a size 12 foot in a size 10 shoe, they did everything they could to quench the Spirit in me, so we left after my wife overheard the pastor and one of the elders criticizing me behind my back.

      That, as it was with you, was only the beginning of my journey seeking a fellowship where the Spirit of Christ was welcome and not just in name only, but where people worshiped Jesus in Spirit and in truth… a hard thing to find in Jerusalem or in the other temples of men. For many of us, we have found fellowship with other pilgrims outside the camps of Christendom. Can true fellowship be found it a church buildings? Yes, God’s arm is not short that He can’t reach even in there. The “magic” of fellowship does not happen just because we meet in the right kind of building. But as you have said, we must enter into His rest and most churches are controlled by men and are all about works, “More bricks, more brick! Get your own straw!” as they build the storage cities of Pharaoh. As Jesus said, “Every plant my Father has not planted shall be rooted up.” So much for men and their church planting programs.

      Ideally, we should be fellowshipping face to face in each locale where we live and I have found a handful of saints (in a city filled with church buildings) who love one another so much that you can’t keep us apart, nor is our fellowship dictated by a special time or place, but WE ARE FAMILY and God is our Father just as Jesus is our Brother and we are members one of another In Christ. I did not find this until my time in the wilderness was over and God made it happen. True fellowship is organic and it is born from above, not by the will of the flesh, not by the will of man, but by the will of God. One thing my trashings about has in Christianity with many false starts and failures has taught me is that “unless God builds the house, they of build it labor in vain.

      I am glad, Russ, that you have found a body to be a part of where Jesus is the Head for it is a rare thing in today’s Christianized world. God bless you and thanks for sharing your story, my brother!

      Like

      • I can’t like this reply enough,Michael. Very well said. Christ IS THE HEAD. If He doesn’t initiate the fellowship/coming together, it is not of Him. We, as humans, love to “do”. I know I am learning to rest in Him everyday and allow Him to lead. One step at a time. I believe I am currently in my own wilderness. I am glad you led me to your blog.

        As you mentioned in one comment, abuse does abound both in church and out of it. It takes the Lord to change that abusive heart. One thing I have learnt is, our Father in Heaven must be the LEADER and INSPIRATION in anything we do.

        God bless you

        Liked by 1 person

  11. devon leesley says:

    Through the maze.I get it Michael.

    Our-first pastor, after we got saved, wouldn’t allow blacks in his church. So we left.

    Our second pastor was dealing in corruption over some church property. So we left.

    Our third pastor robbed the people of their building investments. So we left.

    Another pastor we knew who ‘lorded it over us’ locked his wife in the basement, feeding her under the door. He went to prison.

    Another pastor we knew that rejected me got caught flashing himself on a highway. Jail time.

    Another preacher that rejected me got caught molesting small boys. Jail time.

    Another pastor that threw me out after 2 years of successful revivals in his church, lost his church completely.

    Another pastor we know continues to sleep with different women in the church. He rejected my ministry. What else but.

    Another pastor where I did a couple of songs whereby the Holy Spirit fell on the folks, rejected me. A while later his wife and another lady were killed in a car accident.

    Another pastor where I held 2 wonderful revivals 2 years in a row, cast me out. He was 35. He died of cancer 2 years later.

    This is the calling God put on my life. I don’t like it, but i wouldn’t have it any other way.

    We now sit alone waiting further orders. God bless.

    Like

    • Michael says:

      Devon, like a sister told me after I shared my tail of woe regarding all the failed church attempts and pastoral abuse I went through…
      She said, “Well, if you go into a yard and start climbing the steps toward the front door and a big ugly dog comes out from under the front porch and bites you on the leg… Pretty soon you should get the idea you don’t belong in that yard!” I GOT THE MESSAGE!

      Like

  12. Susan Moore says:

    Hey, you! Your wonderful blog entry starts with the verse that says God shortens the days. Has anyone else noticed that the days fly by faster than ever now? The weeks go by as quickly as days used to, now….
    A bit of levity in the midst of this ‘heavy’ discussion: I quip that, if the weeks are going to fly by like days…..and thus it seems like it’s we’re repeating the same day over and over, why does it have to feel like it’s always……Monday?!
    Just kidding. I pray Come, Lord Jesus. In the midst of all that is going on. Sometimes we miss the truth: Yes, things have really gotten as bad as they seem. But in the midst of all that, the days fly by . . . .in victory because Jesus lives.
    Keep on truckin’, brother Michael.
    Susan
    PS: You mention that you were in this-or-that organization for x-amount of years, then on to another organization for another set of years, and so on. Well…..if you add up all those years….you are getting OLD! Just kidding. We met over 15 years ago. Can you believe that? Come, Lord Jesus, and in the meantime, thank you, Jesus, for wonderful siblings-in-the-Lord like…..Michael.

    Like

    • Michael says:

      Susan!
      Fifteen years ago we met on the net? Amazing how time flies by. Yes, the days are being shortened for sure. Thanks for your levity! I needed that. Yes, I am getting OLD! I will be seventy in December. You are no spring chicken yourself! 🙂 It was so good to hear from you again. It has been quite a while since we last exchanged emails. I am glad to see you in such good spirits, my home decorating and remodeling Deva! Thanks for writing on here.
      Thank you, Jesus, for wonderful sisters like Susan!
      Michael

      Like

  13. I suppose if I would think back a few years, I likely could remember several instances where I was hurt and abused by others professing to represent Jesus, and there certainly is a time and season where we need to “vent” and find healing over these things and people. I guess for the most part I view these things as singular today- a season of learning about the things and type of person I don’t want to be. My sole mission in life today is to point others heavenward, not to get others to focus upon what Jesus can do for them but rather, teaching others to have a simple dependence upon the One worthy of their admiration. If one’s focus is right, righteous living will follow just as night follows day (or is it the other way around?)

    Today I find no reason to discuss these things as all the bitterness is gone and any resolve to change the “church” is long gone as well. Those hurts were a part of my life yes, though I see them (as I do everything today) ultimately being from my Father and not from others or some sad circumstance that just so happens to be affecting me today. They meant it for evil, but HE meant it for my good. There is comfort in this is there not?

    Thank you Michael for sharing your heart in these things, as we all do well to “listen well,” “think clearly” and even forebear with some with all our reminiscing. That said, I hope our goal remains forgetting what lies behind and looking forward to what lies ahead as I know we all aim to do here.

    The wealth of wisdom here from commenters is tremendous. Much of what is said echoes my own heart and a quote I wrote on my site a while back which speaks to a profound truth:

    HOPE IS IN HIM:

    “Jesus has presented Himself to humanity as the solution to all mankind will ever need and desire. Not what Jesus can do, but Jesus Christ Himself”

    -pass it along if you dare…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Thanks Michael F. for the reminder that we deal with the past and give our wounds over to Christ to be healed and forgive those who dealt treacherously with us and release them to the Lord for Him to deal with. Then we can move on and grow in Christ and THAT is what Father is after. A lot of what has been going on here among us in this tread is comforting others with the same solace that Father has comforted us with in as we went through it and have come out the other side (2 Cor. 1:4).

      That is a great quote. All that we have from the Father is found as we abide IN Christ. Yes, it is Christ that Father gave to us (John 3:16), not just what He can do for us. Each day Paul’s words become a bit more clear to me as a reality, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I love this passage in Romans,

      “What shall we then say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:31-37 KJ2000)

      Liked by 1 person

  14. George Thrift says:

    add ME to your list of states with wilderness brothers and sisters…been blessed by this site for almost 15 years…truth holds up to scrutiny…love George and Bethany 04422 with one daughter and 5 boys since we found you, George, T.A. Sparks, Watchman Nee, brother Warnock, etc
    Our best days in the Lord are yet to come

    Like

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for dropping by, George and Bethany from Maine! It is good to hear that you have frequented our website http://www.awildernessvoice.com since we first put it up on the net and been blessed by it. I see you like some of the same authors that have been such a blessing to us as well. Yes, I agree, our best days IN Christ are yet to come! The enemy might be coming in like a flood, but God is raising up HIS Standard, Christ and His many membered body who answer to the Head.

      Like

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