Aug 032011
 

In the wake of Harold Camping’s failed May 21 rapture prophecy that caught the world’s attention and drew fits of hysterical laughter, the COG has produced a new batch of apocalyptic doomsayers who have dubbed themselves prophets and apostles, each aiming to attention-whore and defraud people of their money.

The first is actually a woman, a rare thing within the COG seeing as how women are supposed to be submissive to men under Armstrongism, and are not even allowed to speak in church.  Yet, the Prophet Val is here to break those rules. She has written an e-book, The Good Tale, and her blog is strangely obsessed with spankings.

The second is L. F. Maschio, who is yet another “apostle” who has resurrected the works, name, and image of Herbert W. Armstrong.

But within this new batch of loony religious hucksters, there no one more disassociated from reality than the “Apostle” James Malm of the The Shining Light.

Like Flurry, Weinland, Cox and Meredith, Malm is preaching that WE ARE IN the end-times, and that 2011, this year, is the beginning of the end. He comes to this using some brilliant reasoning:

…it is interesting that the first permanent English colony in America was assured with the first harvest and a thanksgiving  in 1621. Add 390 in light of the prophecy.  Again this shows the closeness of the end times and may NOT be exactly accurate as to a year; since we do not know for certain that this period started at that time.

And the 390 year figure comes from this line of “thought”:

These things were all prophesied thousands of years ago. Ez 4 Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and pourtray upon it the city, even Jerusalem: 2And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about.

Ezekiel is told to portray the city of Jerusalem under siege by setting up a model of the city under siege as an instruction and sign for the people.

3Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face against it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel.

Yet, during the days of the siege, an iron plate or wall is to be placed between the city and the besiegers. At this point Ezekiel is told to bear the sins of Israel for390 days [190 LXX] and to bare the sins of Judah for 40 days; this being symbolic of a day for a year in fulfillment.

The same thing will happen to Joseph-Israel [Ephraim- Manassah] as God bears their sins and blesses them for 390 years; after which he stops bearing their sins and stops their blessings as well.

This developing war is setting the conditions for a peace deal 1 Thess 5; exactly how long it will take for this war to run its course and for a peace deal to be finalized remains to be seen. We can KNOW that the tribulation is now very close.

Even though Malm claims that he isn’t “setting dates” for the Apocalypse, he does claim that the “Abomination of Desolation” described in Revelation will take place September 2011, specifically on the 28th:

And I will tell you now that the end of the 1290 days is the resurrection from the dead on the 6th day of Unleavened Bread; and 45 days later brings us to the end of the 1335 days, which must fall before the Feast of Pentecost. And on the feast of Pentecost, after those days Joel 2:28; God’s kingdom will be established. God’s spirit will be poured out on all flesh even calming the savage beast. And the Kingdom of God will be established and the millennium or thousand years of peace will start.

The proof of this will be in the fulfilling! If we find the earliest possible sixth day of Unleavends and then count back from there 1,290 days and the abomination [final false prophet] is actually set up at that time; then we shall know that this concept is true. Each year I have published the POSSIBLE date that the abomination might be set up.

Again insisting that he does not set days, Malm has chosen 2015 as the ultimate end of the world.

He also believes that only 50% of “God’s chosen people” at the “place of safety” in Petra will be resurrected, including parents being taken up and leaving little children behind. You know, the working a loving God.

Malm is giggling like a schoolgirl at the prospect of Israel and Gaza sniping at each other, and is additionally preaching that a war between Israel (Anglo-Saxon Americans) and Islamic Extremism is about to erupt.

He is conspiratorial without boundaries and is enraged that UCG may be introducing doctrines of grace.

Malm is adamant about the COG more closely following the New Moons to the point where it borders on lunar worship.

Malm has also been setting himself as the authority on marriage, divorce and disciplining those trouble-making female types, and believes that unless one adheres to his specific guidelines for “ruling” a household, there is no salvation and no place in “God’s coming Kingdom”:

If we can’t even lead our own families properly and in a godly manner; do we really expect God to give us authority over the nations? People expect to rule nations and they cannot even rule their own families in a godly manner.  Of course this is a very broad generality and there are many exceptions, but there are far too many problems that really NEED to be overcome in this matter. Part of the reason that we were given families is so that we could learn to rule; So what is godly leadership and ruler ship?

Malm is also obsessed with spanking women, mirroring Armstrong’s own obsession outlined in an infamous September, 1962, edition of The Good News Magazine.

Malm refuses to be silent, as if anyone cares about his babbling enough to actually stop him. He is hurting for money, and because Satan is a big meanie, he can’t setup his own Feast sites for his “followers” (there is no proof these exist, even on his Twitter account @WatchmanHerald), and gets extremely angry at COG sects for holding dances/potlucks on a Holy Day.

Best of luck to the Apostle Malm at his straitjacket fitting.

Aug 022011
 

Mirrored via Truth in Context

Tim’s mother, Debra, wanted to make a better life. She’d had two children, Tim and Donna, in her teens and tried to raise them as a single mum in Washington, USA.

She decided to move state, seeking to reunite with the children’s father and try to have a proper family. Her step-mother, Retha Skyles, offered to help. She said she would look after Tim and Donna in Washington while Debra established a home interstate. She arranged for Debra to sign a document giving her temporary legal custody.

While Debra was away, Retha moved state and told Debra she had signed over all her parental rights to Retha. She wouldn’t tell Debra where her children were. Six years later, with Debra having given up any hope of getting her children back, Retha Skyles returned to Washington with Debra’s children, Tim and Donna, still in her care.

Donna was a child who, by her nature, tended to be obedient with little urging or discipline needed. Tim, however, was a boy who needed more explicit discipline to understand and accept boundaries on his behaviour. Unfortunately for Tim, his new “mother”, Retha, did not know how to discipline a child.

When Tim, now around six years old, disobeyed Retha this is what would happen: He would be made to bend over, bare-bottomed, and receive beatings administered with a wooden cutting board. If Tim cried, the beating would intensify to punish him for crying. This abuse didn’t stop until all crying and negative facial expressions had ceased and Tim was in silent submission.
Retha was confused when this approach didn’t seem to be working with Tim. It had “worked” with her own children, and it seemed to be effective with Donna. But Tim’s behaviour wasn’t improving. He was starting to behave oddly and have strange tantrums of inhuman screaming. Retha took her to a doctor, telling him that Tim was in her care because her daughter had used drugs. The doctor suggested Tim “might” have mild brain damage from the in utero exposure to drugs. Retha, knowing that she did not have legal custody of the children, didn’t dare seek any further professional advice. She determined to devise new methods of discipline on her own to manage this ostensibly brain-damaged child. She was determined to eradicate all roots of his evil, while keeping him protected from his “drug-abusing” mother.

When Tim was 8 year old, Retha moved in with her own mother. Retha’s son, Glen, was already living there. Glen recalls, “One would almost not know that Tim was there. Except for periodical screaming and butt-beating sessions, he’d be virtually invisible except [at church], where he sat quietly, and was always known as a remarkably “good little boy.’”

Retha had discovered isolation seemed to have some effect on Tim. She would seat him inside a circle of chairs draped with blankets. Tim’s behaviour came increasingly odd. He would bite his fingernails and chew holes in the blankets.

Tim had learned not to cry when punished, holding back with a grimace. However, his grimaces were seen by Retha as defiance, and he was beaten more severely for them. Retha asked her son Glen to build a box four feet by four feet by seven feet, with a bed on top. Glen built it, as asked, with one side open. Retha then closed the remaining side and kept Tim inside the box, only allowing him out to attend church and to defecate. He had a jar in the box with him to urinate in. Retha was calling him “the devil’s child.” He was occasionally cleaned with a wash-cloth, and wasn’t allowed to wear clothes. In his box there were no blankets or pillow – nothing for comfort. He would sleep curled in a tight ball.

To pass the time, Tim would imagine what it might be like to go outside. He thought all children lived in boxes, but imagined some mother’s were a little nicer than Retha. One day Glen gave him a stuffed toy dog. It was the first soft thing Tim can remember. “I used to talk to it,” says Tim. “I dreamed that it would come to life and break the lock. I thought maybe it would help me.” Later, Retha cut the toy to pieces with a knife.

Eventually Glen, who had been a victim himself of abusive “discipline”, realised the seriousness of what was happening to Tim. He went to his minister for advice. The minister, having heard his story, sat in silence for a moment. He then accused Glen of a variety of sins and warned him to stop speaking evil of his mother, threatening that there would be serious consequences if Glen told anyone else.

 

Glen finally went to Child Services, who within reasonably short time removed Tim and Donna from Retha’s care. The story of the “boy in the box” soon exploded in news reports around the world. It was 1987.

Aug 022011
 

Mirrored via Escaping Armstrongism

To all my friends who have comforted me, and all those who have found any comfort here:

“The LORD bless you and keep you;
“The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
“The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
(NUM. 6: 24-26)

Next week is Christmas 2008. I have been out of Armstrongism for about 4 months. I suppose this is as good a time of year as any to do some introspection. I don’t personally keep Christmas (but I no longer fear it). Perhaps it’s the years of indoctrination speaking. Or maybe I *gulp* agree with Armstrong on the origins of the day and it really does bother me. If my conscience is bothered by something, then I shouldn’t do it. I know that in the COG7, Christmas is frowned upon. I support them in every way. God bless them and prosper them. But I will have my own relationship with my Savior, thank you. (Nor have they ever tried to dictate to me. It’s really not like Armstrongism there!)
Even so, when in Rome…

I was reading some of the other former Armstrong blogs and some of my older material. I came across some of the stuff my new friends wrote about me and this blog back when I first left my independent COG. They were overwhelmingly supportive. They didn’t even know who I was. Nor did they care. They just wanted me to feel welcomed and supported.

For all of those whom God loves in truth who are still in the COGs (desiring to find Christ but you don’t know where or how), I know because I used to do this myself, you call only those in the COGs “brethren”. And why? Because they share a bond with you – though many of them wouldn’t give you the time of day. When you leave, they will turn their backs on you too. I can tell you that I still love my old COG associates. I’ve learned a great deal since I left. One of the first things I learned was that my “brethren” aren’t just in the COGs.

(MARK. 9: 38-41) 38 Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. 40 For he who is not against us is on our side. 41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

I wasn’t exactly one of the former Armstrong bloggers, yet these people to whom I was a stranger gave me more than a cup of cold water. They refreshed my heart with their kindness and sympathy and support. They saw that I was trying, and that was good enough. Jesus is clear that He will repay them for their kindness, and that reward is sure. But take this lesson – Jesus was kind to those who weren’t following Him; yet many in the COG’s forbid even prayer for those who aren’t in the COGs.

I once got into a most literal debate about whether or not people in the COGs are to ask others to pray for those outside “the church”. PRAY!! Not lift a finger, not donate, not even “be warmed and filled”. Just ask God for help. There was a man who clearly took the stand that most definitely one must not ask another to pray for someone outside the COGs.

He said, “Is it appropriate to broadcast special prayer requests to the entire church for any or all unconverted friends, acquaintances, neighbors, or relatives. I still say it is not.”

Well, that’s a fine imitation of Christ, THE Council for the Defense, THE Savior of all mankind, THE One who died for even His enemies, THE One to whom they should be pointing people both by word and by deed. This man would apparently love his dog who can’t even speak the name of Christ more than a stranger. Good thing this man said each are allowed to pray privately! Still, it was so disturbing that I haven’t contributed to that group’s conversation in any depth since. This is a “Christian” group, mind you. “Followers” of Christ. But, as we can see in Mark 9, Jesus was not against those that weren’t in His group.

(I JOHN 4: 20) If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
(JAS. 4: 8-9) 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

I think it odd that on one hand we have people who couldn’t tell me from Adam yet they welcomed me in and were exceedingly kind to me. On the other hand, I have people who knew me from my youth who don’t talk to me anymore; people who were as close as brothers who won’t talk to me anymore; people who won’t even so much as ask their fellows to pray for ‘outsiders’ – least of all those who have left to follow Christ. Yet one is generous and kind as Christ was, while the other calls themselves the sole chosen people of Christ while acting as if no one else has value.

I have to say, if it’s at all true that “by their fruits you shall know them” (MATT. 7: 16), I am not too keen on the fruits of the COGs. Search as I may, I could not find ‘following the Old Covenant law’ listed among the fruit of the Spirit (GAL. 5: 22-23). Paul tells us in I Corinthians 13 that if we have prophecy and understand all mysteries and possess all knowledge yet we do not have love then we have nothing. Jesus separates the sheep from the goats, not based on who followed Moses in the strictest fashion, but by who showed acts of love (MATT. 25: 31-46). While Jesus stood and watched the Pharisee, strict in keeping the law, praise himself in prayer to God for how he was God’s chosen, Christ chose to praise the tax collector who saw himself for what he was and prayed to God for mercy (LUKE 18: 9-14). It says that out of the heart of a Christian there will flow rivers of living water, speaking of the Spirit (JOHN 7: 38-39). Where is even the glass of cool water from these who call themselves “God’s elect”? In Matthew 21: 28-32, Jesus tells of a son who did not want to do his father’s will but did it anyway, then another son who said he would do his father’s will but never actually did. Jesus concludes “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you” (MATT 21: 31).

Is this what you want? Is this the religion you would choose? To make your boast in the law while neglecting the weightier matters of the law, just as the Pharisee did (MATT. 23: 23)? Take great care in how you think of yourself in relation to God, calling yourself ‘God’s chosen’. Christ concluded, “for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (LUKE 18: 14)

(I JOHN 3: 18) My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
(I JOHN 4: 11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

And where would any person get the idea that Christ is “us vs. them”, or loves only those who love Him? Did your “minister” misquote I John 2: 15 to you? I tell you the truth, he did so because he wanted to make an income of you! While Christ died to reconcile man to God and tear down the partitions that separate, they work to build up partitions again and cordon off those who will pay them tithes from those who will not. Why heed him, then? Why do you still entertain the idea that the COG is God’s and all else is the unclean world? Did they not also read to you Matthew 5?
(MATT. 5: 43-47) 43 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

And who did Jesus say were His brothers?
(MATT. 12: 46-50) 46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. 47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

And what is the will of God?
(I JOHN 3: 11) For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another
(I JOHN 4: 21) And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

Am I saying this to accuse you? No. Do you feel accused? I don’t intend that. I hope that perhaps you feel pricked in the heart, but not accused. We know who the Accuser is – and who the just Judge is. But use your own judgment; look at the fruit and decide for yourself which did the will of God and which did not. Don’t I say often that God loves you? And I believe that! He died for you! I say what I say here to make a contrast and to pray that you allow yourself to SEE the difference in the New and the Old Covenants. There is a great difference, and thank God there’s a difference! Paul said the Old was the “ministry of death” (II COR. 3: 7) and the “ministry of condemnation”, but the New is the “ministry of righteousness” (II COR. 3: 9). So I don’t condemn you. Not in what I write nor in my heart. In fact, I deeply desire for you to be where I am and feel the joy that I feel. This entire blog is for you! To help you! There’s a love and a joy waiting for you that I never felt while I was in the faith of Armstrong. I want you to have this. I want you to finally be confident that your salvation is definite and sure. I want to seee you follow Christ and not men. I want you to step into the New Covenant! To see you freed, that is my ‘glad tidings of joy’. God bless you today and always.

Don’t ever forget this:
(I JOHN 4: 16) God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

Mercy triumphs over judgment, and the greatest of things is love!

Aug 022011
 

Mirrored via The Painful Truth and Banned by HWA!

Philadelphia Church of God Parents Abandon Minor-Aged Daughter

When my 17 year-old niece told her parents she no longer wanted to participate in the Philadelphia Church of God, her cult-member parents abandoned her to the streets. “God’s Will,” her mother said.

For some time, my niece has been disillusioned by the Philadelphia Church of God. Her first awakening occurred when she asked her parents if she could stay with a non-cult member relative who lives on the East Coast, (that would be my wife and me), for two weeks, as part of her summer vacation. A boy her age, (a non cult member), who was enrolled in an accelerated program at school studying to become a doctor, was staying with us. My niece particularly wanted to meet this boy because she is also interested in studying medicine. The relative, that would be me and my wife, planned on taking the boy and my niece to see NYC and the NJ shore. My niece’s parents adamantly refused to let her visit the us. My niece’s “God ordained head of the household father,” who had been barred from practicing nursing in several States for violations, (I believe he showed up at the care facility in which he was employed, intoxicated. First, he was suspended for 2 years, then he had his license revoked permanently), especially wouldn’t even hear of the idea. My niece became distraught. Instead of letting their daughter enjoy her summer vacation with a like-minded teenager pursuing a career in medicine, her parents forced her to stay at home in the company of another girl from the Philadelphia Church of God. My niece says this cult member spent most of the time on her cell phone, bragging about having a three-way with two Mexican boys.

Another important event influencing my niece to leave the Philadelphia Church of God occurred while she was attending the Philadelphia Church of God youth camp in Edmonton, OK. Camp organizers forced my niece to play soccer in the heat, even though she had high fever. When she returned home, she had puss running out of her ears, and was deathly sick for two weeks afterwards. PCOG believes in relying on God’s faith to heal. Philadelphia Church of God “ministers,” camp organizers, and her parents refused to treat her medically.
The final event occurred when her parent’s tried to strong-arm her into a marriage with a cult-member boy, whose mother had died from lack of medical attention. The boy had mailed her an engagement ring. This arose when my niece became particularly vocal about leaving the cult. My niece reports there was much arguing, screaming and threats of physical violence in her house.

Desperate for an escape from her miserable home-life, she became involved with a non-cult member boy at her high school, and smoked pot once. Her parents pulled her out of school, exaggerating her “drug use,” claiming she was on crack, and needed to go through detoxification at home. Their real intention was to force their daughter to spend hours being isolated, “counseled,” or rather harangued by a Philadelphia Church of God minister. He said she was evil for wanting to study medicine, and attend medical school, (She wants to become a gynecologist. The minister said this type of doctor is particularly sinful because they perform Caesarian Sections. My niece was born via Cesarean Section. Also, my niece has severe endriometriosis that her parents left untreated, jeopardizing her ability to become a mother). During this time period, her parents drove her to a Philadelphia Church of God congregation in Salem, OR, a three-hour drive from their home, locked her in their car parked at the end of the cult parking lot, where she had to wait, a prisoner all day, while they attended the all-day service. At night, they let her out to be counseled by a minister. The minister demanded she fast, after she hadn’t eaten a thing all day locked in a car. He “suspended” her for six months.
When my niece continued to press her parents to be released from the abuse of the Philadelphia Church of God, her mother said she was “dead to her,” and turned her photo face down on her bureau top. Her parents told her to leave the house, as they wanted to concentrate their love and affection on their other daughters, who wanted to remain in the cult. My niece said her parents told her she was infecting the household with her “evil.” While kicking her out of the house, they refused to drive her anywhere, and threatened anyone who helped her with legal action for harboring a minor. My niece was forced to walk a busy highway for over an hour alone, until a classmate saw her and gave her a ride.

Some days later, when my niece called her parents after she was out on the streets for a few days desperate to return home, her parents refused to answer her calls, or return her voice messages. When they saw her in public, they turned their backs on her and walked the other way. At one point, her parents let her return for a few days while they made sure they wouldn’t get in any legal trouble by abandoning their minor-aged daughter to the streets. During these three days, my niece says she had to sleep on the floor, as her parents had turned her bedroom into a weight lifting room and removed her bed, giving it to the family dog. She was told to leave the house after the third day, apparently after the parent’s consultation with their “lawyer,” who must have told them they wouldn’t get into too much legal trouble. If their lawyer is the one I know of, this individual is a cult member, who the Bar Associated suspended at one point for practicing law in their state without a license.

My niece wound up staying with her then boyfriend’s family. When she tried to return to school to finish her junior year, she said her mother would call the school, and falsely accused her of possessing drugs. The security guards would detain her every time she stepped foot on school property. She said her parents also falsely accused her of being pregnant, spreading around rumors to intimidate her, so she would repent and return to the Philadelphia Church of God. Frustrated, she dropped out of high school, missing completing her junior year.

My niece called us, begging to stay with us. For three and a half weeks, she told us of the abuse she received at the hands of the Philadelphia Church of God and her cult-member parents. When we called her mother after our niece returned to her state, her mother wanted us to call the police out there and have her arrested, to “teach her a lesson.” “God’s will.” Her mother didn’t want to know where her daughter was staying. She said if we mentioned a word about the Philadelphia Church of God, she would hang up the phone immediately. Her daughter is now struggling to finish high school, bouncing from house to house, her future and her safety in serious trouble, thanks to the destructive influence of the Philadelphia Church of God. If you can help in anyway, please contact me at the email address PCOGAbuse@gmail.com.