Hi everyone!! I hope you had a great week. I realize there is so much that I need to explain and so much that you want to hear regarding the MCIN announcement. I am just searching for the right way to convey what’s in my heart. I will be writing more on that subject this week.
But, today I have another guest post from Jim Guerra and I am really excited to share this with you. As always, his stories and experiences cut straight to the heart. If you would like to read more of his journey…you can click here.
In the New Beginning. . .
When I stepped off the plane on Aug. 26, 1986 at Baltimore-Washington International, just hours after leaving the cult that had bound me for ten years, I felt like a new life lay before me, like I was returning from a war to the grateful arms of those who had done so long without me. The fog that had been home for so long was lifted, I was triumphant and ready to begin life anew, fueled with energy to put my mistakes behind me and to move forward freely to determine my own destiny.
On the plane trip I had told my story briefly to a Christian flight attendant. Although I sat in the cabin with my tucked-in lab coat, my long untrimmed beard, and perhaps the scent of so many days gone by (still hadn’t purchased deodorant!), she affirmed my decision and entered my air space to welcome me back to the tarmac.
I noticed something when I recounted my story to her. It was cathartic. As I explained my experience, I learned as I spoke. I began to feel more assured that leaving Jim Robert’s control was the right decision. Besides, after spending ten and a half years not talking to women, it sure felt good to open up to one and receive positive, almost admiring feedback. “You have a great story to tell,” she said. “Make sure that you tell others what happened to you.”
From the moment the web of twisted scripture began to fall apart two weeks earlier, I began to heal. Camped in Portland, Oregon, near the area formerly known as the Kingdome, I was still reeling from Jim Roberts’ harsh rebuke against my integrity. I had contradicted his twisted scripture and he turned on me, telling me how ungrateful I was for all that the “church” had done for me and how they had rescued me from that abomination called “Harvard,” and that I had always been “an unstable brother.” Since the rebuke came pay-phone to pay-phone (in the old days before cellular!), he was not in town to watch what I did next. I had been camel-strawed!
I tucked in my long modest lab coat, a palpable act of sweet rebellion. (If women wanted to lust on me because my shirt was tucked in, that was their business.) Then I broke another taboo: I began to sing a “worldly” Bob Dylan song my left-wing camp counselor taught me when I was only eight and still plagued by my long-distance and unrequited love for Leslie Suddueth. (She sat all the way across the classroom and I was too self-conscious about my teeth to woo her).
How many roads must a man walk down, before they call him a man?
I had been with the group for over ten years; when was my opinion going to mean something? When would I be considered mature enough to interpret scriptures without his permission? When would I be considered a man? I had slept in refrigerator boxes, in snow banks, and under bridges, and foraged through dumpsters for ten years; when would you stop treating me like a baby? I had paid the price; when would I be called up to the majors?
How many times must a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see? The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.
How long would I shut my eyes to the abuses of the leadership? How much longer would I invent excuses lest I have to take them off the pedestal and become responsible for my own life? Did I really want to continue to be a child, letting others make decisions for me and telling me God’s will, or was I ready to grow up and move on?
The healing began that day when I cut the umbilical cord. I am responsible for my walk with God. Pastors and leaders can counsel me but they cannot choose my life for me. They can open my eyes through the Holy Spirit to my gifts and possibilities, but they cannot in their flesh mold me any more into their image. I am free to grow, free to love, free even, to fail. What God permits, let no man forbid. What God forbids, let no man permit!
I am shaped by the Spirit, not by the guilty manipulation of my leaders! If the Holy Spirit doesn’t convict, you must acquit!
No more will a group or an unaccountable spiritual leader ever force me, against my conscience, to surrender my reason and will to do things that are not directed me to do by God, just to ”keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
I love my pastors now, since they feed me and lead me to God’s grace. Instead of condemning me, they encourage me. Their corrections may sting, but not discourage; and their truth sets me free and helps me break from unhealthy patterns that are hindering my growth.
I hear a different Spirit now. The one telling me I wasn’t doing enough to please God, that someday through my prayers and fasting and self-denial and cross-bearing and dying to myself, I might achieve perfection and become accepted by Him, that voice is whack-a-moled whenever it pops up.
I am not a worm; I am a son of God. (Please note the indefinite article so that you don’t think I am the Antichrist!)
To be healed, I have to learn who God really is. I must learn to hear His voice. And I must stop listening to the voice that causes me to run from God and hide in guilt. A sound mind does not run from Love in any of its expressions.