Cast Out (This is a model, not the real person)
ou can’t imagine the pain I felt when I heard those words ... They were gut wrenching! Here I was ... in a new town, with no friends or family outside “the group,” and now I was being cast out! Everyone I cared about was on the inside. For awhile, I‘d strongly felt we were being led astray. But still it hurt to be excluded! It all began a number of years ago when we were introduced to “Roger Neese,” a self proclaimed Bible scholar. He’d been in a denominational church for a number of years, but had become dissatisfied with the lack of spirituality among the leadership. He focused on the fact that, in the latter days, God would call a remnant out of the church. “Roger” emphasized the end times and for whatever reason, I don’t know, that message resonated with my husband, “Don” and me. We faithfully attended “Roger’s” home Bible Study. He was very charismatic, plus his message appealed to my pride. He gave all of us the sense that we were more righteous than the carnal “church” people. At first, we believed “Roger” was teaching the truth, and that everyone else was doomed to hell. We thought he had an exclusive on the Bible, and each of us fell under his spell. After we’d been together for about six months, “Roger” convinced us that the end times were so near that we needed to sell our homes and do
by “Vic Harper”
what the Bible said about “pilfering Egypt.” Each family bought an RV and we made our way across country to settle in a mountainous region of Tennessee. The women wore head coverings and the men, prayer shawls. The wives were totally submissive to their husbands. “Roger” convinced us that this was God’s perfect order, and that to do otherwise would be rebellious. Of course, he stressed that rebellion was as the sin of witchcraft. All the ladies chafed under this teaching. Mainly because it was taken way too far. “Roger” taught that the husband was to make ALL decisions for the household with no input from his wife. Whatever he said was law! Refuting any of this wouldn’t have been tolerated, and afterall, we had to agree the principle of submission is in the Bible. Another thing is we were expected to pool our finances. Everybody had jobs except “Roger,” so we had to support him. He convinced us that since he was “the man of God” and needed time during the week to prepare for the meetings, he shouldn’t be distracted with an outside job. “Roger” could proof-text everything he taught, right down to the healing scriptures. He strongly believed that doctors were unnecessary, and that medicine was evil. Healing prayer was the only way to get well. We quickly learned that if you decided to disobey this teaching, you’d better do it in the privacy of your own home. One of the couples was accused of not “walk-
ing in faith” because the husband was caught using an inhaler for his asthma. They were excommunicated, causing a lot of fear to run through the group. I was totally grieved when our son got sick. My heart was torn to shreds as I watched him suffer. He was so sick, but I knew medicine was out of the question! “Don” and I prayed constantly for his healing, and after a few days, thankfully, his fever did break. But that was the last straw! I began to study the Bible, rather than just “buy into” what I was being led to believe. However, as I asked questions and sought clarification, I was made to feel like a traitor. So I learned to keep my mouth shut and just study on my own. But it wasn’t long til “Roger” started a campaign to get our family out of the group. I’m sure you’re wondering how a grown person could be so duped. Actually I’ve asked myself that question multiple times. It’s weird because I’d always been an independent thinker, and would balk at the notion of anyone else doing my thinking for me. All I can say is, this man had an uncanny power over us, and we were utterly deceived. After “Don” and I were cast out, the pain of rejection was so raw that my mental state became extremely fragile. I wore a cloak of depression and soon found myself trying to relieve the pain anyway I could. My doctor prescribed medications to help me live a somewhat normal life. Even though I’ve always hated the idea of taking anti-depressants, I had to exist. But still everyday was a battle just to survive! I tried so hard to unpack all the lies I’d been taught and replace them with truth. But instead I just got more confused. I made a little progress, but I still struggled with some very significant issues.
“Roger” had moved on by this time, but the others kept trying to convince me to hold on to what we’d been taught. It was very frustrating because I couldn’t agree with their doctrine, yet I didn’t have the answers either. It ate me up inside! I knew if I could just straighten out what I believed, based on what the Holy Spirit was saying, I’d be able to overcome all this turmoil. But where do I go for help? Who will understand what I’m going through? I longed to know the truth so I could be set free! “Don” was getting very concerned about me as thoughts of death permeated my thinking. He began seeking a place for me to “get away” and find help. I was all for that, even if it just meant I’d finally get some rest. I was so weary! But I have to admit, I really didn’t hold out much hope for any change. There must’ve been a little, though, because when he arranged for me to go to Faith Family, I didn’t resist him. God showed me so much! And I’m excited to tell you, I HAVE FINALLY BEEN SET FREE!! Toni was so very peaceful and loving and kind. She patiently led me each step of the way as I regained my footing in the Lord. Of course, forgiveness was part of the healing process. As I worked through this, the Lord opened my heart toward the people who had hurt me. It was truly amazing! I immediately wanted to take all I’d gained and turn it into a teaching session to share with the others. My heart was in the right place, but Dr. Bill cautioned me to just intercede for now, and the Lord would release me to share when the time was right. Patience is a virtue I sorely needed to develop, and the Holy Spirit showed me I’d have to totally lean on Him for it. Father, help me to trust you ... and use me, dear Lord as you shine your light through me!
But ... I love a Suntan! etting out in the sun is a good thing Lif done in moderation.
Plus, it’s possible to enjoy a tan and avoid all those chemical laden sun screens ... and reduce your risk of skin cancer at the same time. Did you know that the true cause of Melanoma (skin cancer) has more to do with what you put on your dinner plate than exposure to the sun? That’s right, poor diet is the primary factor in the development of skin cancer, and eating and drinking certain key nutrients will likely minimize your risks. The following are foods that are important for all of us: Eat foods containing beta-carotene, like carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkin, spinach, kale, collard greens, and nearly any other yellow or orange vegetable. Add lutein, contained in peas, brussels sprouts, zucchini, pistachios, broccoli and corn. The following should also be consumed‑—Epigallocatechin gallate or “ECGC” and polyphenois, in green and black tea, cocoa, rosemary, thyme,
HealthPoint oregano and garlic. Plus, flavonoids, especially in citrus peel, and proanthocyandins found in cocoa and grape seeds. Additionally, you need to be sure to include fish and olive oil to round out meal planning. I like to keep a food diary as it helps me track the nutrients Bill and I are consuming. Eating well will give you the edge you need if a sun tan is important to you. However, you need to know that with all the hype from mainstream media about sun screens, our society is becoming Vitamin D-3 deficient. However, the dangers of sun screen extend much further than causing a Vitamin deficiency. Of course, you don’t need to fry yourself, but I think you’ll agree, sunshine is good for you, and a little tan is much more healthy looking than being pale. As often as we can, Bill and I spend about thirty minutes at a time in the sun. We find that to be plenty to soak up the Vitamin D we need, as well as maintain a healthy “glow.” Happy sunning!
Wow...490 Times!! Surely you can’t mean God wants me to forgive others 70 times 7! Don’t you think that particular scripture is just giving a concept? After all, I’d end up forgiving all day long if that is the literal meaning. Yes you would. You see, forgiveness is a continuous expression of love. Let me ask you a question. When does God stop loving us? NEVER! His love is constant. So, essentially He is telling you and me to extend His love to others throughout the day, just as He extends His love to each of us. Love in action is forgiveness ... or another way of expressing it is, love in action is giving grace. But, hey, why wait to be offended to forgive? We’ve discussed this compound word, for give before. It’s actual meaning is “to give undeserved favor ... to give grace.” We didn’t deserve God’s favor (Jesus), but He gave Him anyway. Why? Because He loves us. It goes back to what Jesus said were the most important scriptual commands. We are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. And to love others as He loved us. So, if you’re loving others, you’ll be giving them grace. But remember, you won’t always feel
like it. No, you’ll have to look deeper than your feelings. The ability to give grace is found in your spirit. You may feel like it and you may not ... but as our friend, Bill Gilliam used to say, “rain on your feelings!” And only as you abide in Christ will you have access to His grace. Think about it this way. If you are giving grace 70 times 7, that’s 490 times. In other words, there would be no occasion when you’re NOT giving grace! The concept of receiving and giving grace is needed to sustain your spiritual life, just like breathing is needed to sustain your physical life. Let’s go back to the feelings issue. Consider this. When can you depend on your feelings to give you the motivation to do what’s right? Rarely, that’s for sure! So, the motivation to do what is right MUST come out of your spirit. Knowing God’s Word regarding the issue of forgiveness is vital. But mental knowledge alone won’t cut it. It’s a good starting place, but it is God’s revealed truth (revelation knowledge) that you need. Mental knowledge is knowing about the truth. Revelation knowledge is experiencing the truth ... a world of difference!
Excuse Me Sir ... Are you Jesus?
e have a friend who enjoys sending us meaningful stories from time to time. Some escape our attention, but this one drew us in like a magnet. Bill has a tender heart and is easily affected by others’ pain. So when he called me to the computer to hear this story, I knew it had deeply touched him. I dropped what I was doing, and listened to him, haltingly and through tears, read to me what follows. I wish I could share the author’s name so I could give him credit. But I think you’ll agree he probably wouldn’t care much about recognition anyway ... “A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. “They had assured their wives they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night’s dinner. “In their rush, with tickets and briefcases in hand, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly-missed boarding... ALL BUT ONE!!! He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned. “He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, and asked one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination to explain he was taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor. “He was glad he did. “The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time, helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her; no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.
“The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket. “When he’d finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, ‘Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?’ “She nodded through her tears. He continued on with, ‘I hope we didn’t spoil your day too badly.’ “As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, ‘Mister...’ He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She continued, ‘Are you Jesus?’ “He stopped in mid-stride ... and he wondered. He gently went back and said, ‘No, I am nothing like Jesus – He is good, kind, caring, loving and would never have bumped into your display in the first place.’ “The girl gently nodded: ‘I only asked because I prayed for Jesus to help me gather the apples.He sent you to help me, so you are like Him – only He knows who will do His will. Thank you for hearing His call, Mister.’ “Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: Are you Jesus? ... “Do people mistake you for Jesus? “That’s our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace. “If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting scripture and going to church. It’s actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day. “You are the apple of His eye even though you, too, have been bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked up you and me on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit.”