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Old 11-06-2014, 08:05 AM   #1
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Default LiveStrong and A-Rod

I happened to hear Mike & Mike this morning talk about some recent Alex Rodriguez sports news and Lance Armstrong was mentioned in the mix. My background with the history of Witness Lee immediately filled my thoughts. In fact, it was this very similar connection in their behaviors which so upset me, causing me to lose so much respect for a brother and minister whom I once loved so dearly.

Let me explain the connection using Lance Armstrong, whom I used to be a fan of. Lance, of course, had his detractors, claiming that he cheated by doping, but often other athletes have their egos and jealousies to contend with. But Lance was also a great guy who did many wonderful things for his foundations. He was also a cancer survivor, which also painted a heart-warming backdrop for his successes. He visited hospitals to encourage other victims of cancer. He was an all around great guy, he was arguably the best in his sport, he was the BOTA, the Biker of the Age. And he was an American in a mostly French sport, at a time when "french fries" became "freedom fries."

Here's the problem. Lance was also a great liar. He was the best at self-promotion. He was willing to throw any and all detractors under the bus to preserve his own legacy. He was litigious, and those who spoke up as whistle blowers were taken to court to silence them. Lance was so believable he won every court case. He maintained a stellar reputation, with a lengthy trail of damaged reputations in his wake. To uphold his many laurels, we were basically forced to believe "only Lance is true, and every man a liar."

To his credit, one day Lance came clean, and admitted what he had done. Lee, however, never did nor ever would. Lee also was litigious towards every detractor. He destroyed the reputations of notable men of God in the Recovery whose only "crime" was to speak their conscience against Lee and his abuses. In order to maintain his "god-man" status as the acting God, the Deputy Authority, the Minister of the Age, etc. we basically were forced to believe that "only Lee is true, and every man a liar."

One day I learned that Lee was lying to us about the so-called conspiracies against him. He wrongfully destroyed John Ingalls et.al. calling them rebellious lepers. Learning this news about what really has happened in LC history is so toxic in nature that in the Recovery they called it being "poisoned." Once one learns this news, he can immediately change from an admirer to a depreciator. Overnight. I know, it happened to me.

Lee cared only for his own self-preservation, and that of his family and ministry business. On the morning sports show, A-rod was likened to a sociopath. I'm thinking it applies also to the way Lee acted when caught. What has upset me was not that Lee and Lance were merely deceivers and liars, but that they both were willing to destroy others who spoke the truth.
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Old 11-06-2014, 09:37 AM   #2
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I happened to hear Mike & Mike this morning talk about recent Alex Rodriguez sports news and Lance Armstrong was mentioned in the mix. My background with the history of Witness Lee immediately filled my thoughts. In fact, it was this very similar connection in their behaviors which so upset me, causing me to lose so much respect for a brother and minister whom I once loved so dearly.

Let me explain the connection using Lance Armstrong, whom I used to be a fan of. Lance, of course, had his detractors, claiming that he cheated by doping, but often other athletes have their egos and jealousies to contend with. But Lance was also a great guy who did many wonderful things for his foundations. He was also a cancer survivor, which also painted a heart-warming backdrop for his successes. He visited hospitals to encourage other victims of cancer. He was an all around great guy, he was arguably the best in his sport, he was the BOTA, the Biker of the Age. And he was an American in a mostly French sport, at a time when "french fries" became "freedom fries."

Here's the problem. Lance was also a great liar. He was the best at self-promotion. He was willing to throw any and all detractors under the bus to preserve his own legacy. He was litigious, and those who spoke up as whistle blowers were taken to court to silence them. Lance was so believable he won every court case. He maintained a stellar reputation, with a lengthy trail of damaged reputations in his wake. To uphold his many laurels, we were basically forced to believe "only Lance is true, and every man a liar."

To his credit, one day Lance came clean, and admitted what he had done. Lee, however, never did nor ever would. Lee also was litigious towards every detractor. He destroyed the reputations of notable men of God in the Recovery whose only "crime" was to speak their conscience against Lee and his abuses. In order to maintain his "god-man" status as the acting God, the Deputy Authority, the Minister of the Age, etc. we basically were forced to believe that "only Lee is true, and every man a liar."

One day I learned that Lee was lying to us about the so-called conspiracies against him. He wrongfully destroyed John Ingalls et.al. calling them rebellious lepers. Learning this news about what really has happened in LC history is so toxic in nature that in the Recovery they called it being "poisoned." Once one learns this news, he can immediately change from an admirer to a depreciator. Overnight. I know, it happened to me.

Lee cared only for his own self-preservation, and that of his family and ministry business. On the morning sports show, A-rod was likened to a sociopath. I'm thinking it applies to also to the way Lee acted when caught. What has upset me was not that Lee and Lance were merely deceivers and liars, but that they were both willing to destroy others who spoke the truth.
An interesting perspective and well stated!
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Old 11-06-2014, 10:02 AM   #3
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Default Re: LiveStrong and A-Rod

To me the issue you raise is not about Lee's character flaws. Of course, Lee may have scored somewhere in the sociopathic spectrum. But the issue is why we, the so-called saints, gave him so much power. There would certainly be something of value to be learned by elucidating that process in print, so that they who read it don't repeat it.
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Old 11-06-2014, 11:16 AM   #4
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To me the issue you raise is not about Lee's character flaws. Of course, Lee may have scored somewhere in the sociopathic spectrum. But the issue is why we, the so-called saints, gave him so much power. There would certainly be something of value to be learned by elucidating that process in print, so that they who read it don't repeat it.
1) Part of the answer could be something as simple as this:
Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

We gave Lee power because of what we failed to do: "trust but verify". I guess I can say "we"...I certainly wasn't fact checking. No one was fact checking. Even if you found that something was "off", the prevailing "ministry" was to put a sock in it...don't say anything negative.

Early on, in the 1970's I remember the Lord's blessing on the sharing of the word. It was so powerful that I came to believe that "this is IT". That's when I became the "frog in a pot". The water started to heat so slowly that I didn't notice. That is, more and more questionable teachings and questionable behavior came into play. I turned a blind eye because of the early (what I believed to be) outpouring of the Spirit. Pretty soon, the water was boiling.

Did this relieve me of my responsibility to search the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. No. It didn't. This was my sin. I allowed a man or group of men to replace God in my life, in many ways, most of which was disobedience to the Word.

2) Just leaving the LC isn't enough. When I finally left "it", I repented to God for being disobedient to His Word. I also repudiated the many, many times I consecrated myself to "it". I gave myself to Lee's church, so I needed to "take myself back" and once again give myself to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and Him alone.

I think it's an important beginning to break all the ties we created either consciously or unconsciously. Repentance of my sins and repudiation of my misplaced consecration to Lee (or any other "thing" other than God) and his organization is important. Our words mean something. In the spiritual realm, we don't know how much or how little. It certainly can't hurt, can it?

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Old 11-06-2014, 11:16 AM   #5
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To me the issue you raise is not about Lee's character flaws. Of course, Lee may have scored somewhere in the sociopathic spectrum. But the issue is why we, the so-called saints, gave him so much power. There would certainly be something of value to be learned by elucidating that process in print, so that they who read it don't repeat it.
The answer is that we trusted our leaders, we submitted to them as the scripture has instructed us. It was they who betrayed our trust. It was often self-serving motives in local leaders which caused them not to stand up for righteousness, and instead bow down and stick their head in the sand.

How can we be accountable for what we did not know? We as young believers are not responsible for being deceived by Christian ministers any more than a child is responsible for being abused. As long as LSM was in complete control of all information, they had a semblance of prosperity. Today, with information so readily available, LSM has had to court folks like Hank HandyGraft of CRI to maintain their credibility as Christians.
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Old 11-06-2014, 12:32 PM   #6
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The answer is that we trusted our leaders, we submitted to them as the scripture has instructed us. It was they who betrayed our trust. It was often self-serving motives in local leaders which caused them not to stand up for righteousness, and instead bow down and stick their head in the sand.

How can we be accountable for what we did not know? We as young believers are not responsible for being deceived by Christian ministers any more than a child is responsible for being abused. As long as LSM was in complete control of all information, they had a semblance of prosperity. Today, with information so readily available, LSM has had to court folks like Hank HandyGraft of CRI to maintain their credibility as Christians.
Ohio,

We are accountable for ALL Scripture. Not just the verse that tells us to submit to the authorities over us. Acts 17:11 is in the Bible too. This is the first lesson in accountability.

We were young. We were impressionable. We cannot go back and undo the past, but we can own it now. We now know we were wrong to submit to men rather than God. We now know we were wrong not to search the scriptures to verify what we were being told. We were wrong to keep quiet rather than speak to truth and hold these men accountable.

If indeed "There would certainly be something of value to be learned by elucidating that process in print, so that they who read it don't repeat it... this would be it. Specifically: "Don't do what I did." and call it what it is: sin.

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Old 11-06-2014, 12:36 PM   #7
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Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Try to fool people I love, better watch your head.
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Old 11-06-2014, 12:38 PM   #8
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One day I learned that Lee was lying to us about the so-called conspiracies against him. He wrongfully destroyed John Ingalls et.al. calling them rebellious lepers. Learning this news about what really has happened in LC history is so toxic in nature that in the Recovery they called it being "poisoned." Once one learns this news, he can immediately change from an admirer to a depreciator. Overnight. I know, it happened to me.
Not just Lee, but some of the so-called blended brothers (Phillips, Towle, Lim, etc) who knew better regarding John Ingalls. Once Lee passed on, there had been ample opportunity for the blendeds to turn away from the lies and misrepresentations.
For many brothers and sisters meeting in the local churches, they go by what the brothers say. If they're told brother so and so is a rebel, oppose, etc, it must be true.
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Old 11-06-2014, 01:04 PM   #9
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The analogy is not lost on me, Ohio. Armstrong was a icon here in Austin. Even our pastor voiced his admiration for him.

George F. Will once wrote, "Heroes make vivid the values by which we try to live." Lee and Armstrong were heroes because they (seemed to) personify values we held dear and aspired to.

God once showed me that celebrity is not wrong; it has a purpose. Famous people exist to embody values and inspire imitation. Lee and Armstrong were supposed to be this kind of person, but they let people down. They abused their celebrity.

Their motivations were different, but they made the same basic mistake. They cut moral corners to achieve their goals. Armstrong thought he could cheat his way to fame, fortune and even impactful good works. Lee thought he could bully a following into fulfilling "God's purpose." When questioned they went into denial and blame-shifting, not simply because they were self-centered, but because they believed their intentions justified their means. The ultimate results were disillusionment and scattered sheep.

Some admirers retreated into denial about their hero's failure. Others succumbed to cynicism and iconoclasm. But the best lesson is to learn to differentiate the values from the hero, and never take celebrity too far.
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Old 11-06-2014, 02:00 PM   #10
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...But the best lesson is to learn to differentiate the values from the hero, and never take celebrity too far.
I'm not saying your statement is wrong, but I just don't think it's the best. I think the best lesson is to learn the scriptures. Learn obedience. Learn that God is clean, righteous and holy. To look at others for a standard for living, we will always fall short...because THEY will always fall short.

We should be looking away to Jesus. Of course, this is a pretty lofty standard, but it's HUGE! We get to know Him in the areas of our lives where obedience is doable. If the Lord tells you to do something...do it! If He tells you not to do something...don't do it!

If He tells you to SLOW DOWN, take your foot off the gas. If He tells you to STOP TALKING, stop talking. Maybe you all do this anyway. I just think we miss the point sometimes.

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Old 11-06-2014, 02:04 PM   #11
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Early on, in the 1970's I remember the Lord's blessing on the sharing of the word. It was so powerful that I came to believe that "this is IT". That's when I became the "frog in a pot". The water started to heat so slowly that I didn't notice. That is, more and more questionable teachings and questionable behavior came into play. I turned a blind eye because of the early (what I believed to be) outpouring of the Spirit. Pretty soon, the water was boiling.
Nell,

I think this is a really good way to put it.

But I think that even when we thought we were fact checking, I am now convinced that there was often a fog over our minds. Even when we were not yet fully "insiders." It goes like this . . . .

I recall that before every meeting in Dallas back when we first started in late 72, eraly 73, there was a chalk board that seemed to be covered with verses. And they were going to at least make quick reference to virtually all of them. And allow some time for a few to read some of them almost in pre-reading-like cadence. And we were still going to leave some time for "prophesying" at the end. So if there are going to be two meetings on Sunday morning (there always were in those days I have no idea about now), then you are going to be presented with a whole lot of verses. And a some of them were not necessarily really on the topic. They were there to underpin that there are verses for everything that is said.

By the time that they get to the thing that we should have fact-checked, even if we recognized it as the important one, we were somewhat stoked with correct verse-teaching synchronization of all the previous ones such that it was often easy to miss how it was not really in sync on that one. And once you get through that message and out the door, you are at least partly on board.

In effect, every meeting was a small shrimp boil. And every one of those small shrimp boils melted into one big shrimp boil that just cooked us for good. In other words, we may not have been totally cooked for some time, but the nonsense was always coming. And we still missed it.

It has to be that way or there would have to be separate meetings for new ones to keep them form just getting hit with the malarkey on day one. Even in 89 there had to be enough setup for everything said so that it could pass muster for at least some newcomers. Otherwise there would only be members who started before (pick a date between 63 and the mid to late 70s). Everyone else would face a boiling pot and avoid it.
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Old 11-06-2014, 02:27 PM   #12
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I'm not saying your statement is wrong, but I just don't think it's the best. I think the best lesson is to learn the scriptures. Learn obedience. Learn that God is clean, righteous and holy. To look at others for a standard for living, we will always fall short...because THEY will always fall short.

We should be looking away to Jesus. Of course, this is a pretty lofty standard, but it's HUGE! We get to know Him in the areas of our lives where obedience is doable. If the Lord tells you to do something...do it! If He tells you not to do something...don't do it!
I'm not saying that your statement is wrong, but where did I or those around me NOT learn obedience? It was the Lord who led me to the church in Cleveland as an answer to prayer. I never idolized anyone, but did look to others, older brothers especially, as examples of the faith, as patterns to learn from. Was this not scriptural?

Sorry Nell, but you like to provide a corrective tone, which is not always applicable to others. We should never forget that real failures are part of our walk by faith, as is readily observed in the scriptures. One type of failure is allowing yourself to be deceived for a time by others. I seem to remember that even our Lord Jesus was deceived by Judas. Perhaps our Heavenly Father has provided a special grace to those who taste the same betrayal on earth as His Son did, which otherwise we would have never known.
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Old 11-06-2014, 03:14 PM   #13
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Nell,

I think this is a really good way to put it.

But I think that even when we thought we were fact checking, I am now convinced that there was often a fog over our minds. Even when we were not yet fully "insiders." It goes like this . . . .
I totally agree that we were in a fog. It was "so good", how could we ever think anything was "bad" or that anything could go wrong? There's the first opportunity for fact-checking:

Luke 21:8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.

Can Christians be deceived? Yipper. Can Christians be coming as the "deceiver"? Apparently so.

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... you are going to be presented with a whole lot of verses. And a some of them were not necessarily really on the topic. They were there to underpin that there are verses for everything that is said.
I remember that too. I would think "Huh? What does that verse have to do with the message? Oh well. I just don't get it."

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By the time that they get to the thing that we should have fact-checked, even if we recognized it as the important one, we were somewhat stoked with correct verse-teaching synchronization of all the previous ones such that it was often easy to miss how it was not really in sync on that one. And once you get through that message and out the door, you are at least partly on board.
There was a lot of stuff. I'm thinking more about the blatant stuff like this:
"Don't say anything negative." What are they really saying? "Shut up and don't ask questions." The opposite of Acts 17:11.

Then there's this: "If you take care of the church, God will take care of your family." What are they really saying? Don't miss meetings. Abandon your family. If they don't go along, forget them...they're negative. They "don't see the vision..."
Fact-check: Ephesians 6:6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2 Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.


It doesn't say "let the church bring up your kids in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." It DOES say "that it may be well with thee, and that you may live long on the earth". What does this mean? If you don't honor your father and your mother, things may not go well for you...your days on the earth may be shortened...

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... we may not have been totally cooked for some time, but the nonsense was always coming. And we still missed it.
I remember once hearing Don Looper say something in Austin, and I thought "...ohhhhhh.....he really didn't mean that...." I can't remember for sure what he said, but I DO remember having a check inside that something is wrong with that. This happened more than once. The boiling pot had just gone up a few degrees. I didn't understand that this was the Lord turning the light on for me...I excused Don and ignored the warning.

What were we THINKING????

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Old 11-06-2014, 03:28 PM   #14
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I'm not saying that your statement is wrong, but where did I or those around me NOT learn obedience? It was the Lord who led me to the church in Cleveland as an answer to prayer. I never idolized anyone, but did look to others, older brothers especially, as examples of the faith, as patterns to learn from. Was this not scriptural?

Sorry Nell, but you like to provide a corrective tone, which is not always applicable to others. We should never forget that real failures are part of our walk by faith, as is readily observed in the scriptures. One type of failure is allowing yourself to be deceived for a time by others. I seem to remember that even our Lord Jesus was deceived by Judas. Perhaps our Heavenly Father has provided a special grace to those who taste the same betrayal on earth as His Son did, which otherwise we would have never known.
OK. Point taken.

How can you allow yourself to be deceived? If you "allow" it, you're not deceived.

Jesus is God. He was not deceived by Judas. He was betrayed. I'm not sure what you're saying.

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Old 11-06-2014, 04:59 PM   #15
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OK. Point taken.

How can you allow yourself to be deceived? If you "allow" it, you're not deceived.

Jesus is God. He was not deceived by Judas. He was betrayed. I'm not sure what you're saying.

Nell
Jesus was a man. He was betrayed by His closest friend. (Psalms)

Our Father allows many things to likewise happen to His children.

Find me one believer who never once got "had."
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Old 11-06-2014, 05:14 PM   #16
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There was a lot of stuff. I'm thinking more about the blatant stuff like this:
"Don't say anything negative." What are they really saying? "Shut up and don't ask questions." The opposite of Acts 17:11.
The problem is that they never just said "don't say anything negative." It was always surrounded by verses that were claimed to be guiding principles on the subject (or manipulated into sounding like it), along with one or more of Lee's stories that were supposed to prove that the principle he claims was true.

How often did we fail to realize that it was the story told that really made the point and not the scripture? In fact, the scripture too often did not get us there. If it weren't for the story, we might never have bought it. So we dismissed the lack of support in the scripture and instead let some tailor-made story convince us of what the scripture could not.

Yeah, we were cooked. "That one's well done. Put him on the plate. That's the way the MOTA likes em."
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Old 11-07-2014, 12:35 AM   #17
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The problem is that they never just said "don't say anything negative." It was always surrounded by verses that were claimed to be guiding principles on the subject (or manipulated into sounding like it), along with one or more of Lee's stories that were supposed to prove that the principle he claims was true.
True, however, sometimes it's a pretty cut and dry message.

You may be right, but you're dead right.

God doesn't care about right and wrong. God cares about life!


Et cetera.

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How often did we fail to realize that it was the story told that really made the point and not the scripture? In fact, the scripture too often did not get us there. If it weren't for the story, we might never have bought it. So we dismissed the lack of support in the scripture and instead let some tailor-made story convince us of what the scripture could not.
This echoes the point I was making re the gopher of ambition. As others have pointed out, Witness Lee was referring to gophers tunneling in his yard. But in the environment which is the Lord's Recovery, what could have been simply "pastoral anecdotes" got blown way out of proportion and become nearly scriptural. Case in point -- the very fact that so many of us even remember that particular example so many years later. Witness Lee's parables often became almost on a par w/scriptural parables.

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Yeah, we were cooked. "That one's well done. Put him on the plate. That's the way the MOTA likes em."
Yum...
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Old 11-07-2014, 12:39 AM   #18
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The answer is that we trusted our leaders, we submitted to them as the scripture has instructed us. It was they who betrayed our trust. It was often self-serving motives in local leaders which caused them not to stand up for righteousness, and instead bow down and stick their head in the sand.

How can we be accountable for what we did not know? We as young believers are not responsible for being deceived by Christian ministers any more than a child is responsible for being abused. As long as LSM was in complete control of all information, they had a semblance of prosperity. Today, with information so readily available, LSM has had to court folks like Hank HandyGraft of CRI to maintain their credibility as Christians.
Didn't a lot of people leave the Lord's Recovery in the 1980's? (I'm talking about a loss in membership, not the few famous leaders we're all familiar with.) Why did so many leave, if no one knew anything?
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Old 11-07-2014, 05:05 AM   #19
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Default Re: LiveStrong and A-Rod

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Originally Posted by Ohio View Post
The answer is that we trusted our leaders, we submitted to them as the scripture has instructed us. It was they who betrayed our trust. It was often self-serving motives in local leaders which caused them not to stand up for righteousness, and instead bow down and stick their head in the sand.

How can we be accountable for what we did not know? We as young believers are not responsible for being deceived by Christian ministers any more than a child is responsible for being abused. As long as LSM was in complete control of all information, they had a semblance of prosperity. Today, with information so readily available, LSM has had to court folks like Hank HandyGraft of CRI to maintain their credibility as Christians.
Oddly, that is what the whole wood, hay, and stubble passage is talking about. But Lee turned it away from speaking about the leadership and made it about us. That way we would think everything that went wrong was our fault.
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Old 11-07-2014, 08:16 AM   #20
Igzy
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Default Re: LiveStrong and A-Rod

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Originally Posted by Nell View Post
I'm not saying your statement is wrong, but I just don't think it's the best. I think the best lesson is to learn the scriptures. Learn obedience. Learn that God is clean, righteous and holy. To look at others for a standard for living, we will always fall short...because THEY will always fall short.

We should be looking away to Jesus. Of course, this is a pretty lofty standard, but it's HUGE! We get to know Him in the areas of our lives where obedience is doable. If the Lord tells you to do something...do it! If He tells you not to do something...don't do it!

If He tells you to SLOW DOWN, take your foot off the gas. If He tells you to STOP TALKING, stop talking. Maybe you all do this anyway. I just think we miss the point sometimes.

Nell
Thanks for the reminder, Nell. I think everyone understands this. The discussion was of a more specific nature regarding role models and heroes. My usage of "best" was in relation to either being in denial about the failure of your hero, or being cynical. It wasn't meant in an absolute sense.
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The two truths "obey your leaders" and "let each be fully persuaded in his own mind" cannot co-exist without the concession that (1) we need to respect those who part ways with us for reasons of conscience, and (2) the logical corollary that we must respect other gatherings in our locality.
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