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Comments are again being allowed.
I figure there may be someone who needs my help, and posting a comment may be easier than emailing me. I would prefer an email, but I am here to help those in need.

**Do you have history in the Worldwide Church of God? Are you still attending one of its offshoots? Do you see cracks in the doctrine and want more information, or do you not know why you're still there anymore? Is there a hole in your heart and just don't know why God isn't granting you the happiness you were promised would come through tithing and following a man? Do you find that no matter how hard you try you cannot live up to your own standards, and you feel like a failure? Do you find your pursuit of God to be based on fear?
Investigate with me the answers to these questions and more!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cherry Pickin'

Towards the end of my time in the xCG, I was dealing with seeing how wrong Herbert Armstrong was on a few issues. As much as it hurt and ran contrary to everything I believed for decades, I had to face facts. I started to think it was as simple as not condemning others who disagree with me. Now I understand it's more than that. I cannot demand others believe as I do.

In response to my xCG friends who demand I keep the Old Covenant as they do: Why do you try to convince me to keep the law when you don't keep the law?

For example, God said in Deuteronomy 16: 16 "three times a year every male will appear before Me [you go one time] ...and they will not appear before Me empty." That was in reference to a burnt sacrifice, which everyone knows are gone. So, not being content to keep the law, HWA changed the sacrificial law to mean "money", and changed the 3 times to be 7 times - and yet you follow him. In order to facilitate the newly changed law, he also changed the tithe law. He undermines the Malchizedek priesthood, reinstates the Levites (well, the parts about money anyhow), takes a tithe out of money (when tithes were never from money), and then proceeds to multiply that 3 times. The first tithe being for his Levites, the second to keep the law he changed with some saved out for the Levites, and the third was supposed to go to the poor but went to his Levites again (who weren't supposed to own property by law, but that third tithe got them the BEST property). Then he went even further and changed Tabernacles all around. Will you be making a booth of branches this year? He interpreted Tabernacles to mean "the Millennium" when there's not the slightest evidence that's what Tabernacles is about - in fact it's contrary to Tabernacles symbolism.

This isn't law keeping, it's law changing! It's cherry-picking! You cannot have it both ways. No one can say "the law is in effect", but then cherry-pick what parts of the law that meant. Not if you intend on looking down on others who don't agree with you.
(GAL. 5: 2-4) "Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised [set out to keep the Old Covenant], Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace."

People always say to me "I'm doing the best I can". If it is a law, you wouldn't try to convince me I have to keep it, then make a convenient excuse for why you don't keep it. Because "I do it the best I can" isn't exactly honest. It's not hard to make a booth of sticks, we've known for years about making booths of sticks, some Jews today make booths of sticks, it's just that for some reason you won't do it. And to smooth it over you say you're doing it as best as you can. By your own actions you prove it's not a law to you. The way I see it, you're not keeping it as best as you can, you're keeping it as best as you care to; there's a difference. You cannot cherry-pick!

(GAL. 5: 18) "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." Let go of your fear. Overcome it with the love of Christ. Let that Holy Spirit live in you and the good works will flow out of you from it. The New Covenant... it's amazing!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A WARNING!

For those who are leaving, or are contemplating leaving, the WCG splinters, please take this piece of sincere advice:

There are most certainly people out there who would love to see you leave the group you are in. I'm one such person... so long as that move is right for you. However, there are people, a whole pack of them, who are going to encourage you to leave, befriend you, provide information to you that will be of much help to you, yet their goal is to remove you not just from your congregation but from Christ.

Please be more than aware that a transition is a vulnerable time for any person. Think of other transitions: a butterfly from its cocoon, a hatchling from its egg, a teenager into the wide world. Any of these can be a roaring success! Any of these can be an abysmal failure. Be keenly aware of the pitfalls of transition. Keep very close in mind that you are transitioning from the rigid structure of the WCG splinters into a more free and open world. Once those guidelines are gone, you are responsible for your self.

A deep and abiding faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who calls you from your current affiliation into the free air of His New Covenant is key! Please work to never lose sight that what we have comes down to one thing: faith. Now, I know that your mind is like a sponge and you are ready to soak up all the information you can (that was all this time kept hidden from you) to arm yourself with knowledge and learn which way you are to go. If your curiosity gets the better of you, if you lose your sight of the Guide, if you forget why you left was to find the truth of Jesus Christ, I tell you now that you are ready prey for those who would lead you away from Jesus again.

They have clever arguments. They have ancient philosophies. They have read books you probably haven't heard of. They know a great deal about Herbert Armstrong and the inner workings of the WCG and its splinters. They were once like you and can relate very well. They will be kind and patient with you. You might feel leaderless and they may appear as a guide. But they were stolen away, right when the time to invest the deepest faith in Christ was at its most crucial. (If you don't believe me, test them in Christ, and their bitterness will prove itself.) I pray you do not follow after them. INSIST on Christ!!

COG7

Visited with the local Church of God (Seventh Day) today. It sure was different than my former affiliation. Small group, older. But the message in the sermon was much more about life. I think I'll go back.

We discussed Hebrews. The topic was Jesus from a Hebrews perspective. It was much more focussed on Jesus Christ. What I just said shouldn't be a surprise to anyone from a WCG background, you already know what I mean, but for anyone else unfamiliar, Jesus was roughly ignored. For all the times HWA railed against the Protestant churches for preaching a gospel "about" Jesus Christ and not the gospel "of" Jesus Christ - I honestly remember very little in my life that was about Jesus Christ. It was as if Jesus was just to be understood, and we only needed to learn about the future or the distant past. I mean, sure we learned that no one knows when Jesus was born. Sure we learned the intricate details of His death. Sure we learned more than our fair share of HWA's personal speculation on His return. However, the love, the care, the real gospel itself was rarely taught.

Well, the message I heard today was one of Jesus Christ being the fulfillment of the Aaronic High Priest, who came as a man, and His life and death and resurrection overcame Satan. Now here's the real catcher, the real difference - those things are already past. Jesus overcame Satan in this age! HWA would have us understand that Jesus overcame Satan, but there's some 2,000+ year gap before He sits down on His throne. Well, the Bible says He has already sat down. This is a sea change for an Armstrongist. It's a beautiful thing.

I'm glad to get away from the fear. I perceive that only two things keep people locked into Armstrongism: fear, and sometimes pride. Now, you could analyze it much deeper than I have and come up with all sorts of things. But overall, I think these two sum it up nicely enough. Jesus isn't fear; He's love.

Friday, August 29, 2008

How I Left

I left my splinter group on Saturday, August 23rd, 2008.
I had followed Herbert Armstrong for 30 years.

I insisted on going to services in order to see everyone one last time. I arrived dressed in my best. I made sure to give out as many hugs and hardy handshakes as possible. I got a cup of coffee and settled in for the sermon. When the coffee was gone, so was I. Quietly, I sneaked out the back door, and I am not going to return.

These were the people who were there when I was a child. They were at my wedding. They saw my wife and I through our pregnancies. Everyone was invited to my wife's baptism. They were grandma and grandpa to our children. We went through agonizing church splits together. They loved us like their own. They were a closer family than my physical family. And I never wanted to have to go.

I didn't set out to leave. This was no case of "exit theology" where I prepared for months and looked for a reason to go. I was studying into a false prophet whom I know very well, whom I call the "One Witnesses", when I learned some very terrible information about Herbert Armstrong. I was completely unprepared for the scope and weight of what I would find. I realized that I cannot call one man a false prophet and give the far greater offender a pass. That would be respect of persons. After many long and painful discussions, my wife and I decided we couldn't stay any longer.

What this blog is all about

I could stand here and do nothing - say nothing - just assume everything that can be said has already been said - but I just couldn't. This is a blog about my story of escaping Herbert W. Armstrong and turning to Jesus Christ. And I hope you find comfort here.