Martin Herzberg- Start all Over
I had to look up the proper words that would define the statements and events I and others have observed and yes discussed, over the past year and particularly the past 1 to 2 months and these seemed to fit best. Words that define an inability to take into account the pain caused by wholesale shameless self promotion, and unclear, undisclosed ambition.
1. nar·cis·sism (när s -s z m) also nar·cism (-s z m)
As defined by the Mayo Clinic.
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence (ultra reformed, I would add) lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and in other areas of their life, such as work or school (or church).
Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered around psychotherapy.
: a feeling that someone or something is not worthy of any respect or approval
Out of sadness over the contempt displayed in the past 2 months on Facebook, email and other blog writings of late (during a time where a leader manipulated to have posts or comments not made for 30 days or hopefully removed) that continue to gloss over serious matters regarding people in position of public trust and more importantly spiritual trust, I find it important on this journey of restoration to include an excerpt of a record of testimony and compilation of events containing several previously censored and or unanswered questions. This particular closing excerpt from that record is more to do with me and my families process of recovery toward genuine faith in Christ and the healing that comes from realizing what you have finally walked out from under after 14 years or however many years for others. And that irrelevant of the new charismatic unknown, unvetted ‘intern’ turn ‘team strategist’ thrust in the forefront by the men we did know. With the help of others we (my wife and I) are more able to identify and root out ultra reformed and unhealthy toxic mindsets and doctrinal positions and see it’s remnants lurking in us especially as parents of 4, so as to put it in it’s various forms, to death and liberate our children of it. Which could be years of undoing…and I stress, ‘with qualified help’ from men and women who know (with some degree of qualified education and/or highly referenced and recommended conduct and practice) what it is to care for the person and dignity of the created soul. And yes I use the word dignity because by virtue of being created that gives us dignity not to mention the fact that in Christ’s humble, inglorious and horrific death it gives us all, believer or unbeliever, the understanding of knowing our value to Him and the dignity He carries for us in His heart. Nowhere in the scriptures does it give the indication of what a former leader stated that only He, Christ, bares any real dignity worth speaking of. An ignorant and abusive doctrinal mindset against those who cannot defend or will not challenge such statements coming from people of ‘authority’ within the church. Did He Himself not clarify that with the following profound statement of worth?
Mark 10:45 New International Version (NIV)
45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
I am realizing it’s not simply ‘changing churches’ but for us and possibly others it’s also an indepth process, with help, of changing the mind and heart from that of a religious addict content with favor from God proportionally rooted in my degree of obedience to God through the doctrines of men rather than through freedom to BE and discover Christ for ones self (confirmed by teaching not the other way around) with our minds fully engaged. Uncluttered from the insecure agendas of some who make a living off teaching and preaching and a need to publicly and online shamelessly display their unique ‘gifting’, public Facebook account of ‘good works’ at the expense of the dignity of those being ‘served’ and their ‘governmental’ understanding of Biblical truth to remain reputable and employed. We find acceptance with Christ whether He blesses or takes away His blessings with hands open wide not clenching power at any cost, at that point something else has taken over the heart. Which for Job such ‘measures’ and vanities in the end became irrelevant. A place I long to be.
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses
The other 14 to 15 page record of testimony, events and unanswered questions during and after the 5 campaign meetings and several other private Matt 18 attempts with wise and historically respected elders (in age and experience NOT office) in the church, that surround and include this excerpt will be presented as a separate post at a later date due to it’s length. I’ve been instructed to consider releasing it in small dose comments by folks wiser than I. Therefore being not interested in that slow option of breaking things into that many comments, a new post will be made for a public record and reference if or as the appeal goes unanswered. Once again for the 3rd or 4th time, I would be more than happy to meet with you men again AND with all interested parties to have these discussions and answers given properly without foolish, self preserving, unbiblical agreements in place. A very suspect practice for a church and non-profit status organization. By the way David Smith contact me not my pastor this time, I don’t think he’ll go for that twice, but you can try. You are NOT his equal.
Irrelevant of what side we fall on regarding ALL the varied practices that took place in varying degrees by ALL these men and some of their supporters, there is encouraging help in these resources that are slowly crossing my path as I choose to talk about this grieving experience and it’s affects on me and others despite the literal hatred and damnation on record that has come along with it.
The following “Evaluating the Fruit….” is an excerpt of what will be a final record of our journey for the benefit of anyone undergoing this kind of toxic ‘religiously’ addictive environment that so easily appeals to those looking for something genuine and authentic as it did for me. BTW it’s not about what I have to offer but rather compiling resource information and comments from discussions and all we (my wife and I) are benefiting from through qualified shepherds and counselors. Grateful to be on a journey of a process of forgiveness not the preferred hurried manipulated version that appeases and exonerates perpetrators of known wrong but a calculated, thought through and steady process that brings healing to the soul by Christ Himself irrelevant of the perpetrators involved or their labeling of a lack of forgiveness as a ‘sign’ of bitterness. You ought to be ashamed of such defenses, labels and insinuations especially as leaders in this grand and dear institution built on the back of truly great men and women of faith. And for those on the road to forgiveness consider the following- “One of the earmarks of healthy forgiveness is the establishment of new and healthy boundaries.” Boundaries for the protection of ourselves and our families and the unaware that safeguard against abuses by individuals who should never have that kind of religious influence or power over ones life choices and decision making. These boundaries are especially important when the hard road of reconciliation is neither broached or an option. Although these events pale in comparison to other kinds of significant loses and challenges in life, it cannot be underestimated the depth of grief and the death, in some, of something that once was life giving and wholesome…. FAITH in the HEART.
New International Version
“If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.
Seeking or accepting leadership roles or recognition within the church at almost every turn or opportunity without proper grounding or life experience, seeking proper vetting and confirmation of others and peers, serious self evaluation, combined with rarely being able or wanting to question for what reason am I being selected for leadership consideration other than accepting a gratifying sense of inner privilege all make for, and have proven to be, more often than not, detrimental to the care of people.(“serious charges” I know, I charge myself as well). A process that needs revamping and evaluation. Despite the serious nature of the above verse trained at individuals or leaders who cause reckless harm to the faith of God’s people, He yet is merciful and faithful to bring life (again and again) to a dying, weak and humbled heart within His children, for both victim and perpetrators alike. IF we choose to face and walk into and through the storm, not around it with our minds neither in the clouds nor buried in the sand, with honesty, truth, weakness, transparent vulnerability and HOPE that Christ brings through His Spirit and through others who care for us more than themselves.
…..Regaining a footing on Jesus and authentic faith while purging and deconstructing with the help of seasoned pastors and professionals, what is now known as Toxic Faith:-
As recently as 3 to 4 weeks ago after explaining mine and the experience of others I was immediately without hesitation or pause directed to consider reading a book by Dr. Stephen Arterburn aptly titled ‘Toxic Faith’. Upon the recommendation of real and genuine experience, the pages of this book now act as a sign post of what to watch for and a way back, with help, to the child like faith in Jesus I and many once knew very differently at one point. Before, at least for me, a religious addiction of a ‘more superior way of the reformed ‘dead guys’, Puritans and others’ (a great disservice and misrepresentation to that group, I would think) and the fear and desire to please, be respected, have favor with, be noticed, thought well of, come in line with or be applauded by mere men, be recognized and be counted took over.
Be warned and assured that this book Toxic Faith, so far from what I’ve read, IS NOT, I repeat IS NOT light reading and one would have to be prepared for the painful examples given initially to begin to address the subtle yet just as dangerous cultures and practices of religious addictions that affect and manipulate the mind to overlook and defend known wrong, he speaks of quite extensively.
I’ve included below 2 older Youtube links of interviews with the author I could find (about 8 to 10 mins each) that address some core issues in the book (not all, by any means). The short videos explore topics in the book and common practices that were characteristic of some of the experiences of people that no one dared talk to or about (once put out of the inner circle or inevitably forced to leave the church) for fear of being labeled a gossip or slanderer and becoming out of favor with leaders.
Listen or discount it’s content but it would be very difficult to deny the truths presented for consideration. Some of the examples may be different or not relate directly but the controlling ‘handling’ practices and conditioning are much the same and many of you know it, as people have testified to it and I’ve seen it myself firsthand. Are all who choose to speak up about conduct, injustices and manipulation utter liars or bitter and simply ‘against’ you? Surely one doesn’t suppose we all just fell off the turnip truck?
Part 1– Religious Addiction, Outcasts
BTW I am grateful for those he calls Outcasts who spoke up quietly to no avail only to be shamefully handled and having to leave the system yet because of years of relationship never cast me or my family out of their lives. Thank you, you all continue to model Christ as intended.
Part 2– Money and ‘Gospel Distortion’, Help and Health
This individual offers a fairly detailed summary of the book Toxic Faith. I suppose to help determine whether one may relate and be interested in getting the book:
a. Churches and ministries are started and grown through the vision of a strong leader. The authoritarian leader comes to power because a driven personality accompanies talent and charisma. A toxic system arises when that leader moves into a free rein style with no REAL accountability. Often, this ministry is the FIRST experience of authority for the leader
b. Those who work in this setting find themselves either agreeing with the direction of the ministry or leaving. There is no room for compromise since the dictatorial leader believes that everyone should submit to his rule without question. (remembering questions were permitted but not permitted to be answered) Those who fear for their jobs or feel they may not be able to find similar jobs will comply with the leader rather than challenge certain decisions or actions that appear to be wrong. The leader and the people, therefore, mutually deny their accountability structures and wave the option of having safeguards in the system
4. An “Us Versus Them” Mentality
a. Religious addicts are at war with the world to protect their terrain and establish themselves as godly persons who can’t be compared to other persons. They see themselves in the cutting-edge ministry and other people need to come into the light…’
And for those interested I have included a critique I found of the book as well.
Crossway Community Church Culture Surrey , Langley
In fairness to the historic remnants of people still attending, not all members were active participants in this defined culture, but many in positions of authority were to the detriment of those they were over. Here is a sampling of what could be several examples of the outlook and the culture it creates spoken of in the book (Toxic Faith) and briefly in the videos. There are numerous real life offline examples as well as countless Facebook examples that can be pulled from comments and posts made by various people that are an indication of the works laden weighty undeserving perspectives that I participated in by not confronting such mindsets that drove my self righteousness and may even still be at work in me here. I won’t quote people directly who have made these statements publicly online because we consider some still friends while the other ought to be ashamed, but I will quote Crossway the organization:
1. “The news on the street was, God is serious about his people, his church and he’ll kill you if you treat sin lightly.” regarding Ananias and Sapphira.
“We often treat sin lightly. There’s often falsehood and hypocrisy in our lives. We should be amazed by grace on the one hand but sobered on the other to live a holy life for his glory alone.”
I include this quote in contrast to the foundation upon which Crossway Community Church 2.0 admittedly is unapologetically built upon.
For concerns of being taken out of context, please view and read for yourself and get a general feel (if they haven’t already been completely altered) of their underpinnings and the ‘How To’ liturgy or model of instruction and various calls that appear to have stopped recently.
If these links are not available then that means they have recently been pulled off their site.
2. As recorded earlier when an entrenched individual threatened litigation in 3 yet to be published blog comments over having his ridiculous Facebook post image (screenshot and sent by individuals) and associated somewhat smug comment he disseminated over Facebook regarding the church discipline being carried out on a long time member and mother of 4 by these “pastors”, my initial response was as follows:
“Unfortunately not available for a number of hours and you’re right and you know it, I can’t afford it. Do what I suppose you must do till this can be discussed.”
Of which the reply was as follows:
“There will be no discussion. The purpose in blocking you (and many others) on Facebook is to avoid playing your perverse little games. We had little relationship while we were at the same church and I certainly have no intention now to indulge you in whatever sick pleasure you might enjoy from dragging me unwillingly into your little blog war. I have made my plan of action very clear.” Stephen S
Open communication is all we have to work through very difficult issues. These direct revealing of ones mindset through keystrokes as a modern day alternative to “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” only serve to confirm Dr Stephen Arterburn reference to treating people as below you or 2nd class citizens, mentioned in his interview.
Proverbs 23:7 English Standard Version (ESV)
7 for he is like one who is inwardly calculating.“Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.
3. And most notable of late the labeling of individuals as Crossway ‘haters’ and their literal damnation (for my children’s viewing enjoyment) leveled against those who are exposing and giving warning for others while pressing for accountability from ‘their leaders’ and answers to tough questions never answered or accounted for privately. Followed by the shameless banter of commentary by SOME (not all who commented) Crossway member friends and associates on Facebook, professing followers of Christ.
-Granted many small things (if such running of the mind can be considered small) along this journey are forgiven (as I have been) even when minimized as mere mistakes, however they become part of a testimony and record of an ongoing and consistent culture of what I’m coming to learn is a practice of intoxicating religious addiction that harms others and ourselves.
And as was mentioned earlier this is online activity which pales in comparison to the personal treatment of individuals who dared to question the counsel, actions and motives of leaders against others or against themselves. This is not to say all counsel was unhelpful, but as evidence shows on some serious weighty matters, much was without grace, though much preached about, and at times made no sense, lacked judgement wisdom, and common sense. All under the intent of being a more serious, hard truth, no nonsense, gospel centered church while hard truth could rarely be brought to or stick on them in their model of leadership that is more interested in forward motion without derailing great plans at the expense of the integral care of souls.
To my shame, I participated in so much naive promotion (some not so naive) and find myself in and growing out of some of the pages in this book. Ignoring many little seemingly insignificant questions and signals with some of these leaders and our motives along the way that I now distinctly remember and still see even after the changing of the guard, having remained after the church split or takeover. As Ray stated, the Holy Spirit is faithful.
The church is a person embodied within each believing member where the love of Christ and quiet unannounced service to one another and our community is evidenced by the sacrificial preservation of it’s members and their dignity for the purpose and resourcing of healing, recovery, strengthening, safety, protection, discipleship, and mission by qualified men and women in these fields of gifting. Not a center of ambition and opportunity or a mission center for (much needed financial) visionary growth at the expense of other equally important needs and sadly at the expense of the care of people. I say this not as someone who has anything to do with church leadership but rather a lay member watching the careless carnage, having studied, listened much and pursued counseling, discovering that there are several (not all) churches that do these things well with healthy checks and balances in place outside of themselves. Contrary to the ridiculous notion shared by some of these leaders that there are only a small handful of churches (2 apparently) that they would recommend in all of BC. Or “if you seek counseling outside this church you may as well not attend here”. Nothing could be further from the truth in a healthy church.
Here are some very elaborate reviews of the book Toxic Faith which are lessons and testimonies in themselves that many may identify with:
“Recovery, hope and freedom are available. ‘Overcoming’ starts with ‘understanding’ the truths contained in this book. ”
Grateful that we are able to begin to find a way out of this mire brought about by men (ALL) who obviously lost their way and without question or denial took a church down with them continuing as though nothing happened as though God and His people can be mocked.
noun: mire; plural noun: mires
a situation or state of difficulty, distress, or embarrassment from which it is hard to extricate oneself.
By God’s goodness “the risk of living is the pain” lyrics from a song off Amy Grants album ‘How Mercy Looks from Here’ titled Better Not to Know. Pain I’m grateful to God took place to spare many ongoing anguish and losing heart, spending untold hours second guessing their ability to know truth from lies or wisdom from foolishness for themselves, not 21st century oracles. There is real support, love and help available from many countless qualified men and women, I/ we just have to be willing to recognize my/ our weakness, errors and need. A process I’m coming to terms with after allowing others to think FOR me and ingesting so much toxic manipulative distortion wrapped in so much rich theology and truth which eventually makes the HEART sick and in need of reviving because of lost hope and trust.