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Old 10-16-2017, 11:26 AM   #1
Gideon7
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Default Howdy from a Newbie

Greetings brothers and sisters. I have enjoyed reading this forum for a few days and decided to join- something I have never done concerning other forums of interest to me- so I humbly ask patience with my ignorance concerning forum protocol- though I did read the rules and will do my best to abide by them.

Please let me share a little about myself. I’m a middle aged married guy who retired 6 years ago after a 22 year military career. My wife and I have not been able to have children and are generally ok with simply trying to serve the Lord in the situation He has allowed. My wife grew up in a Christian home- was saved at a young age- and loves our Lord. I was born again about 25 years ago- Christ changed my life radically and for the long haul- all praise to Him- and FOREVER I will rejoice! I had a nominally Roman Catholic upbringing- but thankfully not much of it stuck I have been heavily involved with various sects/groups/denominations/bible studies/para-church orgs/(whatever other term you like)- of Christianity over the last 2 and half decades- Baptist (Southern and Independent), Presbyterian (don’t recall which flavor), Non-Denominational (mildly charismatic), Mennonite Brethren, Assembly/Plymouth Brethren- and prob others I don’t currently recall. My numerous military relocations required us to look for a new fellowship each time we moved- an interesting exercise to say the least. Post retirement and most recently, I was on staff as the leader of men’s ministry for about 3 years with a new church plant in a major US city- sort of a blend of Baptist and Non-Denominational.

We have recently moved to an area with a few cities adding up to about 600,000-700,000 people. We are looking for a good bible focused church and have been checking out the LC in our area. This sect is completely new to us. My wife has some health issues and hasn’t been able to attend a Sunday morning meeting- but I have gone to about 6 Sunday LC meetings- along with both of us attending a couple dinners at LC’ers homes. This LC seems to have maybe 80-100 people or so. Overall- the people seem joyful, biblically knowledgeable, moderately welcoming, healthily conservative, treat others like family, and in love with Jesus and His word. Additionally, they seem to be quite involved in doing life together outside the meeting hall- this fellowship has been greatly missed by my wife and I for years- even as a part of a church plant. Obviously- almost any group can look good initially, but those are my honest first impressions.

That’s what brought me to this forum. I’m mildly suspicious about some of the teachings of the LC/WL/WN/LSM- but want to be open to pros and cons of this sect. I’ve read quite a bit here and on other sites about various questionable things concerning the LC/etc... It appears I have reason for concern and further investigation- where there’s smoke there’s usually fire… I will not willingly be a part of any group with blatantly unscriptural beliefs/practices- regardless of how “nice” they might be. But I’ve sorta come to the conclusion that no group- and certainly not me- has every detail concerning God and His word all figured out. I feel we must realistically leave room for some things we don’t agree with and pick the best fellowship we can get- or something like that. After 25 years of serving Christ amidst MYRIAD settings and styles in numerous states and countries- I’m WELL AWARE that EVERY ONE OF THEM have some flawed leaders/people/teachings/histories/views/etc… and of course my own understanding can be misguided as well. I guess I’m trying to sift through the claims and counter-claims of the LC proponents and detractors to see what is really going on and if my wife and I should consider joining the LC. I look forward to interacting and learning and hopefully- ultimately growing in my walk with our Awesome Savior Jesus Christ! Thanks in advance for your time, energy, and input and for sharing some of your story and life. Sorry for my lengthy intro- I tend to be a bit verbose at times- God’s best to each of us as we endeavor to let His light shine brightly through us!
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Old 10-16-2017, 05:12 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum Gideon7!

Most of us former members speak highly of our joyful times with all the brothers and sisters in the LC's. I also was part of two LC plants. I never had serious issues with the saints, and love many of them dearly, but did reach a point where I could no longer stomach the manipulations and the past coverups of the leadership.

The LC's have been taught that they cannot exist without LSM. Unfortunately for every ounce of good, they get a pound of bad. Yes, there are errant teachings like "we become God in life and nature," but worse is the arrogant pride that begins to permeate the members. They truly believe that all churches but themselves are pitiful, fallen, degraded, and divided. Today they manifest Revelation (chapter 3) Laodicea in every way.

I left the LC's in 2005 after 30 years active service as church deacon due in part to a power struggle between our regional leader in Cleveland and the national leaders in Anaheim. My church split in half. Both headquarters demanded that we "stand for the truth," when the truth is that rivalries between leaders should not a affect the church, especially if we truly were "local" churches as we were advertised to be. We became spoils of war. Some LC's had lawsuits, fights, public strife, and many hurting saints. Nearly every church in the region was divided. So much for the ministry that condemns all other Christians for being hopelessly divided.

My personal feeling is that LC healthiness is based on their "disconnect" from LSM or another HQ -- the more LSM and their many programs are held at arm's length from your LC -- the safer the LC will be for your family. Interference and manipulation from HQ has damaged many a LC, and has transformed many an elder / shepherd into merely a franchise manager. Many more gifted ministers and shepherds have been beat up or expelled.
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Old 10-16-2017, 05:48 PM   #3
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Default Re: Howdy from a Newbie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gideon7 View Post
This LC seems to have maybe 80-100 people or so. Overall- the people seem joyful, biblically knowledgeable, moderately welcoming, healthily conservative, treat others like family, and in love with Jesus and His word. Additionally, they seem to be quite involved in doing life together outside the meeting hall
Gideon,

Thanks for sharing your testimony, God is good!

Your quote above reminds me of what the local Jehovah's Witness or Mormon churches in your area would say about themselves too. My first impression of the "LC" was much like yours... but like you...something felt off. My mind, spirit, and even my body (Yes I literally had to stand up and walk out of a meeting one time) alerted me to that the Church of Witness Lee was not where my family should be. After I left, I began to search for more about this group. You'll find is that the members discourage seeking truth about this group and its leader. They call it being "poisoned". It wasn't until I travelled to Anaheim and sat through the "training" that my fears were confirmed. Not long after we left and never looked back.

As a believer, you will ultimately see the truth of Witness Lee's local church movement. My advice would be to pause and learn more about this movement before returning or subjecting your wife to their teaching. Although, the longer you stay, the more confirmation you will receive that something ain't right.

Don't waste your time. Get out now. I wasted so much time over that year... meetings, "fellowship" more meetings, "trainings", etc. We left just over a year ago and it was the best decision that could have been made. The Lord has redeemed my time and I love my new church

If you do stay (and don't take the advice from a stranger on the internet ) please continue to stay involved with the forum - maybe even start a blog telling your story. If this random guy on the internet (me) is wrong about Witness Lee and his church, maybe you can lead someone to the truth.

I wish I would have done a better job documenting my experiences during my time in the church. I put my mind and spirit aside and tried my best to make the "LC" work, but my loving father had me in his hands and drew me back to him.

All glory to God - may he be your guide and your shepard - may he lead you according to his perfect will.

- Least of These
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Old 10-17-2017, 04:39 AM   #4
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Default Re: Howdy from a Newbie

Welcome Gideon7,

First of all, thank you for your service. Blessings to you and your wife for all the sacrifices you both have made for this country.

You are correct that "no group has it figured out" but the LC believes they do...have it all figured out...and will not state otherwise.

It might be helpful for you to take your most serious misgiving about the LC to someone in leadership. Tell him you've been researching the LC on the Internet and you are concerned about what you've read. You believe it would only be fair to hear the other side of the story. What follows may be all you need to make a decision about whether the LC is a safe, healthy church.

You're looking for straight answers about something that bothers you. Continue pressing until you are satisfied with the answers. Twenty-two years in the military have equipped you on reading people and situations. This should serve you well.

Ohio mentioned the "franchise". You're not actually dealing with local leadership, but men who must represent the Living Stream Ministry publishing house. This is a very different dynamic for a church. Mention another Christian author you have read and been helped by; mention another church you have attended; mention Christian music you may have enjoyed on the radio, etc. Get their comments on matters important to you. This may give you all the information you need to make a decision.

A recent post on another thread quoted the Wizard of Oz when he told Dorothy to "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain". If you get similar answers to your questions, "pay no attention to what you read on the Internet", you have your answers.

Welcome to the forum!

Nell
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Old 10-17-2017, 10:22 AM   #5
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Default Re: Howdy from a Newbie

A very big thanks to all of you for the replies so far- much appreciated to all!

Nell- thanks for the comment about my military time. I actually enjoyed MOST of it- and ALL of it was an honor. (I've met maaaaaany folks over the years who wanted to serve but couldn't for some reason.) I got saved early in my career and Christ used me in various ways to bring Him glory in some unique situations. (One night in Central America I was literally laying in a jungle ditch quietly whispering/witnessing to my team leader- then a few minutes later there are bullets flying- gotta love it. And of course there were maaaaany boring times of sitting for long hours in a Humvee- made exciting by sharing Christ with my team- "Whatsoever you do- do it heartily as unto the Lord...") John 10:10 says He came to "give us life"- and He's more than done that for me I've found life in Him to be quite the adventure!

"It might be helpful for you to take your most serious misgiving about the LC to someone in leadership." Ironic- this is exactly what I'm in the process of doing- already started my list of questions. Would love input concerning a couple details on this- First- I plan to talk with maybe 3 key people- elders or whoever. I want to see if I get similar answers from all of them. Second- I want to talk with them separately/privately- so they can't just give one "group answer" and pretend they all see it the same. Any thoughts there? And how truly sad- if you are factually correct- that LC "thinks they have it all figured out"... To be fair- I've already heard during a few discussions where some key folks will state "this is a mystery" and admit they don't quite have it nailed down- things like the trinity- Jesus being fully God and yet fully man, etc... I appreciate their honesty there- indeed who REALLY has those type of things FULLY grasped. (I actually get worried when somebody claims they do!) I sorta hope the folks I talk with from the LC make some strong statements about some of these deeeeep things- will help me walk away. And please let me clarify- I strongly believe we should know what we believe- and why- from scripture- (study to show thyself approved...) but claiming to understand all the deeeeeep things with complete certainty- I just don't think we are going to get all the answers we are searching for this side of heaven. (But one day!... we will see Him face to face- how I yearn for THAT day!)

LoT- "the Church of Witness Lee"- interesting way to put that- hadn't thought of it in quite those terms- certainly isn't how they sell themselves- but seems sadly accurate the more I learn. I must admit- as I delved (is that a word?) into this whole LC topic- I thought I needed to focus mostly on WN- but it seems WL really becomes the focus once things hit the US shores in the 60's and beyond- sorta surprising to me how I've shifted to attempting to grasp WL and his dynasty. And thanks for the reminder that they don't want me getting "poisoned". Seems any group that won't willingly stand up to some healthy scrutiny likely has some serious things to hide.

Ohio- "My personal feeling is that LC healthiness is based on their "disconnect" from LSM or another HQ" Thx for this input. Of course my LC orders the HWMR and seems to attend some sort of sponsored training- but I have no idea just how dependent they are on LSM? It is more than a bit troubling to me that they seem to get EVERYTHING from LSM- and I guess they see all other ministries/teachers/church's as lower- and possibly even evil? Wow... Something I hope to clear up when I meet with some of the leaders- thx.

As I search this topic out- it strikes me- there are many things that excite me and seem biblical in what I've experienced thus far in my few visits to the LC- joy, family, energy, Jesus first, biblical use of terms, passion- I could keep going. I was so excited that it seemed I had found a group that was actually mature, focused, and praiseful- yet the deeper I dig, it sadly seems it is based on falsehoods of various types and depths. Another case of "bitter water mixing with sweet..." Maybe my wife and I are asking too much this side of heaven- but WHY does it seem so hard to find a group of believers generally doing things the way the bible prescribes?! I don't mean that judgmentally or angrily- or that I have it all figured out... it's just so sad to me. I know, I know... the whole fall and human depravity and sin and human quest for power, etc... ugh! (Sorry- can't resist here- I'm picturing Charlie Brown flying through the air after Lucy yanks the football out from in front if him for the umpteenth time- for those who recall that genre... but I digress... If only this were something as trivial as kicking a football...

On a related note- if someone could help out this forum newbie- how do y'all do those nice little boxed quotes from previous posts? It communicates so well and I don't know how to do it- thx for any help.

Thx again for any input and for your time and effort- it truly isn't taken for granted. And note- my wife just lovingly suggested I keep my posts shorter- hard for us long-winded types- I'll keep working on it- thx for your patience- lol
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Old 10-17-2017, 11:19 AM   #6
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Default Re: Howdy from a Newbie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gideon7 View Post
On a related note- if someone could help out this forum newbie- how do y'all do those nice little boxed quotes from previous posts? It communicates so well and I don't know how to do it- thx for any help.

Thx again for any input and for your time and effort- it truly isn't taken for granted. And note- my wife just lovingly suggested I keep my posts shorter- hard for us long-winded types- I'll keep working on it- thx for your patience- lol
Gideon, as you read a post you wish to quote from, in the bottom right corner is a "QUOTE" button. Press on it and the text from that post will appear inside quotes. You can then edit what you wish to quote. I find it helpful to leave some context and then bold the specific comment what I wish to address, like I did with your post just now. Everything inside the [quote] will appear boxed.

Then type your own comments below the quotes. They will not appear in a box. When finished, select the "Preview Post" button to check your work, and then the "Submit Reply" button to finish.

The software provides a few hours to edit your own posts, which is often helpful.
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Old 10-17-2017, 11:53 AM   #7
Gideon7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio View Post
When finished, select the "Preview Post" button to check your work, and then the "Submit Reply" button to finish.
Ohio- thx for that info- much appreciated
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Old 10-17-2017, 12:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: Howdy from a Newbie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gideon7 View Post
A very big thanks to all of you for the replies so far- much appreciated to all!

Hi Gideon,
I highlighted parts of your reply so as not to take up a long page. After highlighting it, I hit the delete button and thus it erased everything I wanted out. If you notice on your salutation, it begins with [QUOTE xxx]. To enclose the above quote, I went to the bottom of the page and copied the [/QUOTE]

Now if you want to quote a particular comment like the one I am about to do:
Quote:
John 10:10 says He came to "give us life"- and He's more than done that for me I've found life in Him to be quite the adventure!
I copied the quote and at the menu where it has the B I AND U, there are a group of other symbols. To the left of the pound sign is a symbol that wraps the quote around the comment. I also bolded the comment inside the quote.

You might have to play around to get it just right. But a good way to check is before you send the post off, preview it before sending it off.

I was in the local church for only a few short years in the mid 70's. My experience was mostly a positive one. I had no biblical knowledge previously but I believed in God having been raised Catholic.

I truly believe the Holy Spirit led me in and He led me out. The biggest problem I feel the LC/LSM has is they have kicked out the Holy Spirit from 'the church' and rely on Lee's interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. From what I gather, the dear saints rely on the HWRM for their 'nourishment'. They don't eat and drink the Word of God like they used to.

But I do miss the fellowship/comradership we had in the early days.

And they go on and on and on about 'poor, poor Christianity'. They have the zeal that Revelation 2 speaks of but have lost their first love imho.

P.S. I don't go to 'church' anymore but I fellowship with believers every day via phone, email, text etc. Most I have met through you tube believe it or not back in 2013 and do not live in my area. But I do go to a local bible study every 2 weeks which I love and am getting to make friends in my group.

Many blessings and Guidance from our Shephard Jesus! Be encouraged nontheless. Our Great Redeemer is soon coming and we will get our transformed Glorified bodies and there will be Unity in the SPIRIT forever more.
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Old 10-17-2017, 07:00 PM   #9
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countmeworthy- thx so much for the info and your story. I'm thrilled that you are indeed getting fellowship and spending time with others who love Christ and His word. My wife and I would love to find a home fellowship or a weekly home bible study where we can actually get to know other saints and do life together- whatever that looks like. And for your last comment about Him returning soon and us getting our new perfected bodies- I can only give a resounding "come quickly Lord Jesus"!
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Old 10-21-2017, 03:30 PM   #10
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Hello to dear brother, Gideon!

I have thought long and hard about what I would share with you regarding the LC. There is so much to say that it is hard to know where to begin.

I think we all thought that the saints in the LC were somehow living this bright and shining life--and that we wanted this for ourselves. I thought that they were the most spiritual people I had ever seen except for that special, devout few that you find in almost all churches. So, I began meeting with them from time to time. It was not long before I discovered that it is really a facade.

How can this be? Well, it is because there are multiple ways to sin--and so they (and we!) do. I came to see that while sitting in the meetings, saying very spiritual sounding things, they were sinning at the same time by engaging in judging their other brothers and sisters in "poor, degraded Christianity". You soon figure out that many of those who stand up in virtually every meeting are sinning because they are seeking and enjoying the limelight--while looking spiritual. They continually sin by not caring for those members that they determine are "less worthwhile" to the ministry. They really do not want to minister to the hurting ones around them. This is one Christian group that will never "waste" its time going to senior citizen homes to offer church services to the elderly residents there. They are old, a drain of time and energy, and are never going to "help build the church" or "become the Bride"--or tithe much money. Yet, how many times Our Lord reminded us--both through His words and His living to care for such sheep! Just bide your time and observe. You will see that only the young, active college students are sought out and invited into the church. I find this particularly disgusting. But yes--they look and sound spiritual.

Then there is the way that their eyes immediately glaze over if you bring up a contribution made by another saint's ministry who is not a part of the LC. In spite of their emphasis that "each one has" (very Biblical, of course), they do not care to hear what other Christian leaders/ministers have to say. Why? Because they have such riches! They have it all! WL is the fount of all wisdom and there is absolutely no need or reason to go outside of his ministry to find spiritual nourishment and inspiration. This particular mindset will become more and more obvious to you as time passes--and, based on what you have said about yourself, more difficult to tolerate.

I believe that they sin by making WL into an idol. They deny that they worship WL--but there is total adulation for him. He is NEVER wrong--like the Lord Himself, you know. In all the churches I have been to, I have never heard anyone outside of the LC state that they simply could not go on in the Lord without the ministry of such and such person. But these saints do! They believe that their spiritual growth is inextricably connected to "staying in the church life" and "following this ministry". The Lord and His Word, somehow, just aren't enough. And it is exactly this feeling that silences them all if and when errors are discovered in WL's writings or footnotes, or in the church's dealings. To them, the greatest horror would be to be asked to leave and go into "outer darkness", so to speak. They would be utterly lost and broken. Tragic.

One thing that bothered me so very much toward the end was the emphasis on using their devotional book, the HWFMR, instead of the Bible in their meetings. They will point out that there are Bible verses on each page. There are--but they are typically snippets rather than complete verses and the focus is NOT on the scripture but on WL's commentary and interpretation of it. Most of the two pages for each day is commentary by WL. When saints stand to share--it is often a quote from the part written by WL rather than something about the verses themselves. Added to this is the absence of the old, beloved hymns. Most of the songs that are sung are either written by Lee or are tunes taken from the old hymns but with new words added. I often longed to hear the old hymns and their real description of Christian life, struggles, and issues as well as their sweet focus on the Lord.

In the end, I was not able to deal with living in the straitjacket of Lee-and--Nee only. I longed to be with believers that received ministry and inspiration from all the other ministries whose fruit showed love of the Lord. I longed to be in a place where freedom of expression was welcomed. I wanted to get away from the unusual terminology. I wanted to once again hear the old, old story in its sweetness and simplicity. I wanted to be with believers that sought out the old, the damaged, the unattractive, the outcasts, and the hurting. I wanted to be an old-fashioned Christian once again--and I think you may feel this way, too, if you tarry for a very long time with them.

May the Lord bless you and your wife--whichever path you take.
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Old 10-22-2017, 07:27 PM   #11
Gideon7
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Default Re: Howdy from a Newbie

Maribah- thx so much for taking the time to share all that. I specifically relate to some of what you shared. I'm getting more and more suspicious and thinking we need to simply cut our losses before we get too involved. Granted there are NO perfect fellowships- but it sure seems we should be able to find one with quite a bit less baggage. Thx again for your time and energy and for sharing some of your story- not taken for granted!
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Old 10-27-2017, 10:28 PM   #12
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Default Re: Howdy from a Newbie

I read what Meribah posted a few days ago on this thread and thought it expreassed my own experiences with and thoughts about TLR. I couldnít say anything to improve or take away from it. It echoes what so many of us who spent a lot of time in TLR have said in many words elsewhere on these boards.

Follow the leading of Godís word in the Bible and the Holy Spirit Gideon7. If those arenít squaring up with things in TLR, look elsewhere and save yourself and your wife time and heartache.

Blessings in Jesus Christ, and Christ alone.
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