Thursday, January 2, 2014

Fear, The Powerful Motivator

What a colossal soul-deafening moment, when you realize the magnitude of the cracks in the wall of a well-constructed reality. All at once, you experience what I can only describe as thought freeze.
You’ve heard of the expression brain freeze, right? The sensation of agony felt when consuming ice cream or other frozen product too fast. Suddenly a blinding pain stops you in your tracks, usually followed by some sort of sound effect and the compulsion to apply pressure to the area. Within a minute or two it passes, and like most of us, you return to your previous enjoyment, albeit more gingerly. After all, ice cream is very good. 
The experiences of those who have left the shackles of legalism found in Armstrong’s doctrine, would relate to this description.
Thought freeze. Perhaps someone in your life has asked you a question for which you do not have a prepared response. Maybe it hasn’t been presented as divine revelation in a sermon yet.  Still, it hit a nerve, breaching the well-fortified walls of doctrine. Maybe for just a moment, it made you wonder if everything you thought was iron clad truth was questionable.
Instantly, like the brain freeze of eager ice cream consumers, a bolt of fear and indignation stops all thoughts processing; gripped with mortal fear that Satan has crept into your mind to try to deceive you. Immediately you pray, or immerse yourself in what you have always been sure of: Armstrong’s words on what the Bible says. Apply pressure to the pain; wait for it to pass. The only difference is that you avoid it altogether, unlike those who are free to enjoy their ice cream afterward.
You reason to yourself, “Brush off that moment of doubt! Remember that man is fallible! Subject to error. But the foundation is sure. The trunk is securely rooted.” 
But, how can that be reconciled with church teachings? 
The Churches of God teach that the word of God as found in the Bible are the infallible, inspired writings breathed through men by God Himself. So, whatever is inspired is without error. Yet, the means God used were still mere men. Men are subject to error. 
How do we resolve this? Either the Bible is infallible because it was inspired by God or it is fallible because it was recorded by men. It cannot be both, unless God was a liar. We know God is not a liar. [I assure you that I am not calling the trustworthiness of the Bible into account.] So it is with Herbert Armstrong. He claimed divine revelation for himself and would never be allowed to err (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). Yet we have seen many errors and false prophecies given and taught by the Churches of God as declared by Mr. Armstrong. Throughout As Bereans Did, you will see plethora examples of Armstrong’s errors.  There is no need to list them here. How can Mr. Armstrong be both infallible and fallible at the same time?
I have mentioned this to point to something fostered by this dissonance - fear.
I remember very well stumbling across what we were taught were “anti-church of God” websites. We were told these sites were run by ex-members: those bitter from ex-communication, those deceived by Satan, or those who were never truly converted in the first place. They would declare that anyone truly called by God and fully converted could never leave, God would not allow it. Therefore, they were chaff. So convincing is the often used employ of rejection, that I would effectively dismiss anything contrary to the teachings of my Church of God splinter. It’s a lot easier than doubting everything you have believed in and worked for in the only reality you now accept.
However, something doesn’t quite add up when people dare to delve fearlessly into the claims of the free. The temptation to “thought freeze” it out of existence is very strong.  Consider for a moment that the very need to use such a tactic may be evidence that you need a defense mechanism. If there is nothing to fear, then surely we would not need such a thing. The word of God can stand up to any scrutiny. God can be trusted to never let you down; never let you go, never abandon you. Not because you fulfill a method of rules aimed at increasing your worthiness to rule, not because you have shown Him how serious you are about following His ways, and not because  He wants to delegate. It’s because God is glorious, loving, merciful, forgiving, gentle, merciful, and if there is any other good thing, it is because HE is love! He lets none of His children go.  He is a wonderful loving Father. Believe it dear reader.
I too, was once in the shoes of those who immediately cast off any criticism. I looked at ex-members the way thought reform had trained me to, all the while thinking I had been given pearls.  I had thought-stopping processes that had given me immediate ways out of doubt. Once in a while though, something always made it past all the road blocks. All the diversions I could make and call logic crumbled like a house of cards. I was faced with a choice; examine the claims and trust God to preserve me, or surrender to my fears and walk away from a Bereans spirit. Thankfully, by God’s grace, I did as Bereans did.
Do not be fearful beloved child of the Most High. He will not forsake you (Deuteronomy 4:31). He is with you, and wants you to be free.  The next time you find yourself tasting that sweet taste of the New Covenant speaking in your heart, do not fear, but trust Him. Trust that no matter where you go, or what you do, He will accomplish His will (Philippians 1:6). Be comforted in this: His will is that none who trust in Him should perish (John 3:16) and God always accomplishes His will (Philippians 2:13).

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. ; ) Acts 17:11


Anonymous said...

I am in brain freeze mode and a cogwa. I have been wondering...maybe wandering...for a while but still gripped with fear...fears that I am sure you knew too...being cast out of kingdom...not blessed...or being part of plan. I cannot seem to think God will love me if I do not follow His law. I feel I should not be ...thinking..and its satans work..any thoughts appreciated.


Penny said...

It must have taken great courage to make the step of typing that out and clicking the publish button. That act itself can feel like an admission that you have doubts, something we were all taught was the workings of Satan, trying to deceive us. I want to assure you, that no one here has any ulterior motives, contrary to what we were all sure of. Satan cannot destroy the works of God, otherwise, he would be greater than, or equal with God. That is not possible.

I want you to know you're not alone. You're not losing it, and you're not falling away. That would suggest that God placed the task of saving us on ourselves. But how can we save ourselves if we are imperfect? Yet, we have been taught that we must work to grow in righteousness, contend for our faith, and that faith without works is dead.

If God is the One who says He will accomplish His will, and He promises He will not let us fall by the wayside, then perhaps that means what we thought "works" are, is not what we were made to believe?

Jesus already died. This unconditional love (while we were yet sinners) was already shown to us. This was in plan from before all creation. He died for me, for you and for the whole world (For God so loved the WHOLE world). He loved you before you were born, before you ever fell short of His glory, and before a single act could be done by you. So He loved you outside of your ability to keep any type of Law, any work, any duty you were told you were indebted to. If that were not so, then God loved an IDEA of what He wanted, but didn't or couldn't create it. That also is not possible.

I can tell you, I was mortally afraid. I felt sick, I felt anxious and nauseated at the very thought of doubting what I believed was my one and only calling. All I wanted was to make that feeling go away, and go back to the safe and comfortable haven of my Church of God. I needed to go back to what I thought was reality. I believed I was under attack.

Then I remembered the story of the Priests in the temple. Some had heard the warning to leave, and some, because of their attachment, reasoned it was thunder. Those who heard the voice warning them survived, and the rest met their demise. That spoke to my heart, and I wondered if I was going to heed the warning, or chalk it up to thunder.

This was, in my case, an important lesson. Everyone will have different moments of realization, but the purpose remains the same. God loves you dear anonymous, and His plan is gloriously more abundant than we were ever led to believe. His mercy, forgiveness and love are greater than what our entire beings can comprehend. I invite you to keep talking, sharing and asking questions. When you are able, peruse this site to learn more, from people who know the struggle. We understand profoundly the internal agony and fear, you are not alone. We care about everyone suffering everyday trying to do works to please God, trying to grow in righteousness by keeping the Law, and desperate for God's love and approval, always fearful of displeasing Him and being left out of His plan.

We are children of light, not fear and darkness. We are children of freedom, not chains. Our righteousness comes through Him, and by Him. You are so very precious to Him, and I am so pleased to read your words with the courage it takes to do that. Our Father can be trusted to never let us fall.

Anonymous said...

Dear Penn

Your words (and thoughts) are so profound and appreciated. I hope to have (some day) that assurance you spoke so forceful about. I know this...HE truly is the author of all and hope to get beyond this border(perhaps as far as east is from west) and become me again..I mourn the loss of myself and what I let flounder (talents) which should happen to no one. I ask about how Armstrong destroyed (literally) many lives and dreams but I get the same (or odd) responses as in...they should have kept at it...really? was their fault? I just don't get it. I have heard the "we all make mistakes" thing..I get that. you (from what you wrote and probably experienced)know...

Thank you so much again


Thank you and I will keep searching.


xHWA said...

Anon, your words really hit close to my heart. We are all praying with you.

If you have any specific questions that you want to go over, feel free to comment or email us. I know I would be happy to go through some things with you.
Read our material all you like, it's all there for you. Start with the FAQ, perhaps, and go on to the Categories page. That should make things a little easier for you.

I want to reassure you that you are correct about fear; it is not what God wanted for us. A big part of the problem for most of us was that we never really understood just what it was that Jesus did and does for us. We didn't truly know Him, so we never had the opportunity to truly trust Him. And if we don't trust Him then we have to rely on our own efforts (which we know aren't good enough and never will be).
I recommend praying, reading, and meditating on who Jesus truly is and just what a great thing was accomplished on the cross. This is the Gospel, and from what I read your soul is thirsting for it.

God go with you and guide you now and forever! Please do keep in touch.

Anonymous said...

Hello and thank you so much..I have so many questions and as much apprehension. If you could provide an email your insights would be greatly appreciated. I feel that I have not been abused but still...questions, questions etc. What is your insight on Lev 23 which is always a main stay as in "these are My holy days"...these are the things I deal with and more

TRULY appreciate ALL of your views AND your heartfelt wishes. Any suggestions if any of you considered other worship avenues as in "nondenominational" or others. Ohio

Thank you

Anonymous said...

From Anon-

Yes I have been and am reading the areas you mentioned...which is what has added onto the exploration. As mentioned before perhaps I was (am) more fortunate than others who have been is sad and I am sure their lives were impacted and not in a positive way. It seems (and I would appreciate your thoughts (please...all welcome into the fold)that all you do (or try) is just that...doing. If you don't do'll die. Tired of the fear. I do fear HIM and I do not want to wake up and ...hey..guess're out.

As you can see...many, many more questions and I would like an email contact (if that is possible or if that is what you hinted to}. I too..lost a part of as me tined before. But..perhaps it is time to forget and move on.

Anon...from Ohio

Penny said...

Anonymous, you are welcome to contact any of us via our email addresses, which are listed on the main page, and all of us are more than willing to assist you. We would encourage you to do so, and want to let you know you are safe here. Feel free to sign up for an anonymous email address that will not reveal your identity, and contact any, or all of us. We are here to care and listen. It's perfectly OK and normal to be afraid. God knows and understands our frailties.

Bill said...

Leviticus 23 is a listing of the annual holy days/feasts.

One of the first rules of proper biblical understanding and interpretation is: Who is speaking, and who is being spoken to?

God is speaking to Israelites. God is not speaking to Christians / non-Israelites.

We were tricked into thinking we were somehow a legal party to the old covenant (parts of it) even though God Himself declared that no one can add to, or take away from His written Word, the Scriptures. We cannot "add" ourselves to that covenant, or the conditions and requirements of that covenant. The ONLY provision in that covenant law for those not born of Israel to enter into that covenant, and be required to keep the conditions of that covenant, such as the feasts, was if they underwent circumcision. Then, they were obligated to keep the "whole" law, and not a cherry-picked version of it like HWA and is followers have done.

xHWA said...


I'm agreeing with Bill. If you pay close attention, you'll see what Bill just told you.
Look for those times when the church tries to have it both ways. One of the things we have to do often here is point out where the COGs teach the law is unchanged, and also the law is very changed. Holy Days happens to be one of them.

To illustrate this with a specific example, let's take Passover.

(EXO. 12: 43) 43 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it.

Moses is talking about the law of Passover. If the law is unchanged, not one jot or one title of the law has changed, then this law is unchanged. And what is the very first thing Moses says? No foreigner shall eat it. He repeats this again in verse 45.

There you go. That's the law. No one who is not a native born Israelite, or married into Israel, may ever eat of it. This is the law; the law which is supposedly unchanged to the jot and the title.

The only way a non-Israelite (Gentile) may ever eat of it is to stop being a Gentile and literally, legally, permanently become an Israelite.
There was one way to do this - circumcision.

(EXO. 12: 44, 48) 44 But every man’s servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it.
48 And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.

According to the COGs, the law is eternal and unchanging. God changes not, they say, therefore the law is not changed. This is the unchanged law.

Now, is there any requirement for circumcision in the New Covenant? No. Were the Apostles for or against circumcision? Acts 15 and many other places prove all of the Apostles were against requiring Gentile converts to be circumcised. Do we need to become members of the physical nation of Israel in order to be Christians? No.

So we are left with a very difficult choice: Either the law of Passover is gone contrary to what the COGs teach, or the COGs are in violation of the law they say is eternal and which they claim to uphold.

They cannot both say the law is unchanged and say the law is changed. They are trying to have it both ways.

Bill's conclusion is the only proper conclusion -- the law which was the heart of the Old Covenant never applied to Gentiles, nor can it.

Anonymous said...

Anon says

Will be contacting you much to find out.
Tired of fear factor. Why can only baptized do Passover?

xHWA said...

We're anxious to hear from you.

The rule about baptism and Passover is one that Herbert Armstrong made up from whole cloth. How that developed, I do not know. But it did not develop from any Biblical command.

You will never once in the entire Bible find Baptism and Passover together. It isn't in there. There simply is no Biblical command nor tradition that this practice of requiring baptism before Passover stands on. The Bible commands only Israel to eat it, and all Israel to eat it (EXO. 12: 47); the "entire assembly".

It isn't in Jewish tradition either. In Jewish tradition the entire family of all ages gather for Passover. They even invite non-Jewish friends and neighbors over.