Exit Churchianity

Posted on November 24, 2011

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How God called me out by: Loretta Heiden.

How God called me to be His and made me His: (1985)

I was in the Roman Catholic Church from birth to age 17. I was completely lost! That is a story right there. I was very religious and did every Roman Catholic ritual, I had my Confirmation, I made pilgrimages to the California Missions, I was a disciple of St. Francis of Assisi and I considered becoming a nun. I went to the Catholic Youth Conference in 1985 called “Make a Difference” where we sang “We are the World” and where they told us we would change the world.

One day at school a classmate came to sit with me and talk. He poured out all his sad problems. Problems at home and at school. He was very depressed. I just listened, trying to be a good friend (though I hardly knew him). That was on a Friday. On Monday in homeroom, during the announcements, they said that this boy was dead. He fell off the rocks at the Cliff House in San Francisco. I was shocked- I had never known someone, much less a teen, to die. I did not know if he fell off in an accident or if he jumped. I remember going to his memorial service and seeing his parents, siblings and friends crying.

I made an appointment with my parish priest and asked him to tell me what I needed to know. I wanted to hear the gospel but I did not know how to ask the question. He did not have anything to tell me. I asked him “what happens when we die”. He said that we don’t really know.  I asked him what we are supposed to “do” to have God and be right with God? He told me to “do everything we tell you to do in the Church, and you’ll be fine.” I knew that was untrue because I had been doing all those works of religion for 17 years and I did not have God, I had tradition and works of religion. I went home and prayed to God, asking Him to reveal Himself to me, (His Spirit made this happen I believe by His grace) and a NT bible arrived in the mail addressed to me. I do not know who sent it! Reading the gospels, Jesus revealed Himself to me as i was reading His words (His declaration that He is the Way, the Truth, the Life, and His call to repent and believe, His call to follow Him). It was a moment I shall never forget. He used His written word (the bible) to call me by His Spirit. As I read His words, He was talking to me, claiming me as His, and calling me to be His and to follow Him. By His grace I heard His call, believed Him, dropped everything and followed Him.

How God began to sanctify me and purge sin from me through the fires of tribulation(1998).

After Jesus first called me to be His(1985), He transferred me to His Kingdom and immediately began His work of purging sin and setting me apart for Him. The first thing He did was separate me completely from the RCC. He gave me insight and understanding and I repented so that I tossed my rosary beads & little ‘Mary’ idol statuettes and stopped worshiping the Pope & St. Francis and stopped going to the “sacrifice of the mass.”

The next thing He did was begin the work of healing my mind and heart from the devastating effects very bad sins that were committed in my presence and against me during my life, that did great damage to my soul. God did this through prayer and believing the Truth of the written Word, the scriptures applied to my heart through the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words, Jesus healed me!

The next thing He did was begin to sanctify me in the area of besetting sins and issues of my immorality… this happened over a course of time, through repentance and God was faithful to completely remove these sins from me in His faithfulness.

Fast forward to 1998. I had become complacent in my relationship with the Lord. I was comfortably settled in the routine of Modern Evangelical Church. My heart was growing lukewarm to the Lord as I started committing major idolatry in my heart, (coveting) desiring the things of this world. “Someday we will move to the good neighborhood and get out of this ghetto, like my Church girlfriends have. Someday we’ll take great vacations like them, Someday we will live the good life, be rich, buy nice clothes and live the American Dream!” My heart was wandering. I was desiring another love (the world and the things of the world) and I had put the Lord Jesus on the shelf. Oh but everyone could see I was a I was a good Christian; I went to Church faithfully. But where was my love for Jesus that I had at first? Where were the ‘things I had done at first’ (my love, devotion and faithfulness to Him)?After all He still loved me…..

In His love for me and faithfulness to His commitment to our covenant relationship, God used a hard trial as the means through which to purge and cleanse the sin (leaven) in my heart with burning fire, to bring my heart back to Him. What was the trial? Out of the blue, to my shock, my young husband of 7 years got cancer. He was staged 3.5 out of 4. Our children at the time were 5y,3y and 8mos. old. Here is how God used that for good. This was 1998. It was a year that changed everything.  http://witnessingencouragement.wordpress.com/2007/04/30/good-suffering/

How God preserved my faith and made me an overcomer through the earthquakes and tribulation of spiritual distress, agony and confusion (“Babylon”) experienced at my Church (2005).

After the intense cancer trial and it’s aftermath, God made me hot spiritually with love for Him and greatly increased my love for the lost, for the gospel, and for Truth.

The year was 2004-2005 and i had just completed 20 years in our Neo-Evangelical Church, working in the baby/toddler nursery, preschool, VBS, and K-1 Sunday School. (This was the Church where i met my husband, married and dedicated our 3 children to the Lord.) I entered into a series of experiences that left me utterly devastated, confused, bewildered, rejected, and afraid. I shall attempt to summarize. They hired a woman pastor of children’s ministry. She introduced the “globalist” teachings to us teachers to teach the children. She trained us teachers in New Age mystical contemplative exercises. She got up in the Church service (to talk about being a volunteer in children’s min) and literally led the entire assembly (except me) in a “guided visualization” ritual. She did this for 2 services and the pastors/elders did nothing. I confronted her in private about this, with scripture. She was after all, subtly and methodically introducing elements of witchcraft and New Age into the Church. She laughed in my face, mocking me harshly and said, “Who do you think you are? I have advanced degrees! We do things (in ministry) differently now!” She called me critical and divisive and said I had no authority to question her. She laughed and blew me off. I was beyond shocked at her response. I did not even bother telling the elders. They would only have circled the wagons to defend and protect themselves and their Church.

They signed the Church up with Habitat to build a house with their “All-Faiths” interfaith project. I called HH to ask about how the interfaith program works. They said they were so excited to see Churches participating and all the religions coming together. I began to realize the Church leadership had no discernment.

They adopted “Vision 2010” and told us we all had to volunteer. They said everyone was required to go through the church growth study material. They said EVERYONE had to be on the same page. They adopted Willowcreek and told us they wanted to grow to 5000. A staff man (making announcements) got up and ridiculed traditional evangelism where you go out to reach the lost– he mocked it “We wouldn’t want to go out on the street or anything Noooooo, Hahahaha!!!!” and led the assembly in “group psychology-must conform-behavior” laughter- laughing at evangelism. The whole crowd laughed because he laughed. He said we all have to bring them in (to the Church) through any means necessary, even through “the back door”. I felt shamed for wanting to do biblical evangelism.

I made an appointment with the pastor to tell him how God had worked in my life radically and i was ready to serve! I volunteered to teach a “new believers” bible study(women). Meanwhile a very prominent man in the Church laughed at me and challenged me condescendingly (“little lady, haha”) when I questioned him upon finding out he is a 32 degree Master Mason in his city for 30+ years. I said to him, one cannot be a Mason and a Christian, you have to choose. He laughed at me and dared me to prove it. (This is Christian behavior?) I wrote a 10page apologetic on “why”. I had reason to know. My paper was 75% scripture and 25% personal eyewitness account. I was upset (having memories) and my dh said, don’t give it to the man. My dh was protecting me. I needed closure so I sent it to the pastor.

Then I went to the appointment with the pastor; the only one I had in 20 years. I told him how awesomely God worked in my life and now i was ready to do anything for Him. Pastor told me I was not allowed to teach the new believer bible study; I had not been through “their training”. I told him I had equivalent previous training via my extensive ministry experience as a believer (goes beyond teaching sunday school). He denied me. He told me I can be “in” a bible study (for new believers!). I was pretty humbled by this. I submitted, trying to humble myself and submit to the Lord’s will in my life. I again offered to teach a group, he said no I would not be allowed. They put me in a group as a learner.  Before the group even began meeting, it was cancelled because the teacher suddenly got married and did not have time to lead the group. So the entire group was cancelled. I said “I can lead the group.” He said I was not allowed to.  I suggested they put me in someone else’s group. They denied me. They said the groups were all full. They said they can have “no more than 5-7 people in it or it won’t work.” (It= the Dialectic group psychology process.) It was about a week later when I was told by the woman’s ministry pastor (a woman) that maybe they can get me IN a group in a couple of years! I got the message: I was not wanted at all.

Then he brought up the 10 page apologetic.  Ha, I actually thought he was going to say “good job” to me. “IT WAS UNLOVING” he said. He said there is no point writing such a paper, the man sees nothing wrong with it” (It =being a 32degreeFreemason). I told the pastor that is why I wrote it, to show him “why”. He asked me if i was involved in “Discernment ministries” and I said, “What ‘s that?” (I had no idea; I’d never heard of that term before that day.) He did not answer me, just stared at me for a long time with a concerned and disapproving look on his face. Then he stood up and changed the subject! He did not answer my question! He said, “You seem very interested in Truth?” as if that were a concern. I was so in shock at that question I just said, “yes.” I was terrified and very intimidated, and felt ashamed. I asked him what I can then do to help serve the Church (the Vision 2010 Church Growth Program) and he said, “Why don’t you go work in the Sunday School”(preschool children, which I had done for 20 years but was no longer called to do that). That was the moment I was in effect disenfranchised from the Church, from any ministry outside nursery to 1st graders. I was proverbially “shown the door”. I was denied permission to serve in Church according to my spiritual gifts, qualifications and the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. After that I reviewed the bible study curriculum for those groups they shut me out of (they had given me a copy of the book before deciding I was not allowed to be a leader or be in one). The entire teacher training portion was all about using Diaprax and group psychology to make the people feel part of the group. It was all New Age nonsense! No wonder they would not let me lead this: there is no way I would play group therapy facilitator and twist scripture,  but rather I’d lead inductive bible study and teach didactic truth about being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. I did not fit in the Church “Vision”.

Then they had Chap Clark from Fuller come give a lecture. It was marketed to Christian parents. The theme: “Hurt, understanding the minds and hearts of youth today.” The packed Church building was full of ppl from different Churches and the community. This professing Christian leader did not preach the gospel to the lost, he did not teach anything biblical to the Christians. He gave a 3 hour talk on modern youth culture Psychology and Sociology and diapraxed everyone together for a social Communitarianism false gospel that sounded more like the Humanistic New Age religion of Oprah. He advised Christian parents NOT to encourage their teens to share their faith at school, if the friends did not like it, that would jeopardize their kids standing in the social cluster(gang/clique) and that would be the “worst possible thing that could happen to them.” He went on to say that our kids would be the change agents. Clark was the change agent acting as antichrist as they come, right up in the pulpit, a lying deceiver, misrepresenting our Lord Jesus Christ.   My system was in shock.  http://witnessingencouragement.wordpress.com/2007/03/30/educate-me/

Then my dear husband who was on staff, was fired. But! The rest of the staff was told that he quit! I found this out the hard way when a lady at Church asked how we were doing and i admitted to her that it has been hard since my husband was “let go” from Staff and she panicked, eyes got huge, she stopped me and said, “He didn’t get fired we were told he quit!” I said, “Uh, noooo, he was let go.” She freaked out and said “I don’t think we are supposed to talk about this!!!” and she turned and ran away leaving me standing there, wondering what happened. Then i realized: she is on Staff!  

That December we watched “The Christmas Show” Christmas Church outreach service, at home, on the internet. The show had all the staf…f going up to the mic one at a time, to read a “letter from God”, such as, “dear lonely one, dear addicted one” etc. Each letter had God telling unbelievers that He loves them just the way they are. For example, “I am with you always”
“I love you and accept you no matter what”
“accept you’re powerless”
“will you include Me (God) in your plans for the future?”
“I’m (God)waiting to share My plan with you.”
“heaven rejoices over your happiness”
“I (God) created you longing for deep community”
“make room for Me (God)” There was nothing that we would call part of the gospel message. Then the pastor got up on stage! (The same pastor i had the meeting with.)I thought, “Yay, now he will preach the gospel to the hundreds of out of town holiday visiting relatives in the audience.” He said, “Wouldn’t it be an amazing thing if billions of people all over the world said ‘yes’ to God tonite? Think about how the world would change. Think of what would happen in the international conflicts. THERE WOULD BE PEACE. We would be able to wipe out poverty, reach out across racial, economic boundaries- if people said yes to God all over the world- they would touch the hurting people of the world. There are 40 million people suffering from AIDS in Africa. If we said ‘yes’ to God COLLECTIVELY what would happen? Not only in this country but in this world. I say that because I want to encourage you this Christmas to pray for our world. It is so easy to think about everything that’s wrong and to walk thru life defeated, but you know what? Pray. Pray for our world, for what’s happening around the world that more and more people would ‘say yes to God’……..and His gift of love and peace and grace through Jesus Christ.”
(The last part said very quietly.) Our jaws were on the floor. We found out that Christmas show material was bought from Willowcreek for $$$$ and read (recited) word for word.
Fear, confusion, bewilderment, rejection, mocking, Fuller, Willowcreek, ChurchGrowthMomement, TQM, rejection of truth, Diaprax, SOCIAL/GROUP gospel, anti-gospel, RickWarren PEACE plan global gospel, false gospel, Truth vs Compromise. Thus w…e started a season of “Church-hopping”. I am thankful that the Lord protected me from despair and preserved my faith in Him, and made me stronger in Him, as He led me to seek Him and His approval, and not approval of man. He led me to more of an abiding relationship with Him.

How God called me out and delivered me from the apostacy, lovelessness, confusion, hypocrisy, shame, condemnation, bondage and lies of Institutional Religion. (early2010).

(Reviewing)…After I left the RCC at age 17 upon becoming a Christian, I entered the world of Neo-Evangelicalism where I attended a Willowcreek style Modern megachurch for 20 years. After experiencing great distress and confusion at the apostacy of Humanism, Pragmatism, Man-controlled Corporate Business model (top-down, TQM) organization, false gospels and false teachers that had come in, I fled the megachurch thinking, “there must be a spiritually safe place somewhere in Christendom.” There must be a place in Christianity that is unaffected by the apostacy, I assumed at the time….

So, we left the Megachurch. Looking for this last bastion of true Christianity that was not affected by the apostacy, we Church-hopped several months. We ended up in the total opposite kind of Church:  a small, traditional, old-fashioned, Bible teaching “independent Baptist type” Church where we were for 4 years. The issues here were many and complex. They were like a small private “club” that you had to conform to, in order to be accepted. I desperately wanted to be accepted, one reason being, I thought I must make this work since I was equating being a good Christian with going to Church. I began to live to try to conform myself to their expectations of what a proper Christian lady was supposed to be. I began to be shamed for not performing and conforming to their expectations. I experienced shame and social rejection for not adequately conforming to all their Church traditions. I was even literally shunned as punishment for misbehavior for about a year by an “important person” in the Church. My crimes were: preferring street evangelism to lady’s teas, wearing jeans rather than dresses sometimes, bringing a filthy hungry homeless person to Church, correcting an “important lady’s” legalistic shame and bondage based false teaching out loud in class (whoops, but that was for the spiritual benefit of the baby Christian women present), as she taught the women, not faithfully attending all the social functions, not “acting” happy (pretending) every single time; confiding in the ladies some of my painful personal struggles. Instead of comforting and helping,  I was severely reprimanded and rebuked for this “sin of complaining”. Just generally not conforming to Church cultural traditions well enough.

While experiencing this social-emotional punishment, guilt and manipulation, I began trying even harder to conform myself to the Church culture and expected behavior, so that i would be accepted and my shunning would stop. I tried to do everything that would please them and make them accept me, including: working in the nursery and preschool again! Pretty soon I was obsessed with what stylish/pretty outfit I was going to buy to wear to Church the next week (no i’m not joking). I put a lot of time, money, thought and energy into coordinating blouses, skirts, shoes, nylons, and doing my hair and makeup pretty. I knew this would garner “approval”. I was putting ALL my energy into conforming and trying to be accepted at Church. This was religion and bondage to me, and went against my conscience. I knew it was not the real life in Christ! But I was doing it anyway. I was sinning against my own conscience. I was putting on an “act” at Church. I was, with knowledge and against my conscience, choosing to do this, I was so desperate for acceptance. I was becoming a total religious self-righteous “outward form” hypocrite. I realized that I was striving to please these people at the Church, not living to please Christ. I was seeking approval of “man” rather than approval of God. I was trying to submit myself to, and be obedient to “Church” instead of submitting to and being obedient to Christ. I was becoming (once again, as in my Roman Catholic days) very religious. I was substituting “Church” and “outward form” of religion, for Christ Himself. That is scary. I was serving “Church” and not our Lord Jesus. I was listening to Church (people) and not to Christ. I was living for Church first and not for Christ first. I was being conformed to the image of “Church” and not to Christ. I was committing religious idolatry in my heart. These things went against my conscience as a believer. And I was substituting Church for Jesus Christ in my heart and life. I knew it and I was very conflicted in my mind and heart; “religion” was making me lose my mind.

Besides this, they taught many Church doctrines that I did not even believe in, and they had traditions that I was very opposed to, anyway. Let’s just say I would not pass muster on paper, if I tried to become an official “member”. One thing was, the pastor always taught whatever John MacArthur taught doctrinally. I don’t believe everything that John MacArthur teaches. I think the pastor taught whatever was in the JMac Study Bible Notes. I was not happy when I heard the pastor teaching that the actual blood of Christ is “no big deal, it’s just a “symbol” of the whole atonement”, and “it’s just a symbol of the death of Christ.” I believe the blood of Christ is a very big deal and this teaching upset me. That comes from JMac teaching. Also, I am not a Dispensationalist. I just do not believe in Tim LaHaye/David Hocking theology. I don’t believe in the “Ryrie Study Bible notes” I don’t believe in the “John MacArthur Study Bible notes”. I believe Dispensationalism is a huge lie.  Also, they were pretty heavy on the “patriotism” themes; I recall them having patriotic songs during “the worship service” on patriotic holidays. There was a lot of support for the government and military from the pulpit (it was the Republican administrations at the time.) I am very much opposed to combining our faith in the Lord Jesus with any kind of naitonalism/politics/patriotism etc; I believe this is “mixing”, it is idolatry. I kept quiet about these beliefs; I kept this to myself. But these things went against my conscience as a believer and vexed me greatly!

I finally came to the great spiritual distress of realizing that I was faced with the choice of either living for Institutional Church or living for Christ. It became unbearable. I was under pressure to conform to “IT” (a Thing) and to accept ITs customs, traditions and doctrines, in order to be accepted. I was trapped in spiritual slavery, shame, guilt, bondage and lies. I was in Babylon!
The year 2009 was a very emotionally difficult year. But the Lord had prepared me spiritually with all the suffering I had been through before. He now had a new assignment for me for the year 2009: comfort many hurting people, especially brothers and sisters in Christ! (John13:34, 1John4:7, 1Thes4:18, 1Thes5:11) Here is a snapshot of people in my life in 2009: A family friend experienced an unbelievable tragedy and he spent a lot of time with us. One of my best friends had cancer and was very sick during her recovery; we spent a lot of time together. A family member went through a crisis, I tried to be there for her. On Thanksgiving day, my daughter’s athletic teenage best friend became paralyzed from the waist down, we went to the hospital several times to visit her. And my 95 year old grandmother was dying; I was helping my 75 year old mother care for her in her home for two months, until she died on Jan.1, and it was sad, very sad. There were other people, too. By the end of January 2010 after we buried my grandmother, I was exhausted.

I wrote a letter to my pastor. What was I thinking? I was seeking comfort. I was weak and drained, but trusting the Lord with faith. Why did I not just go to the Lord only, for comfort? I had many more lessons to learn.

I told the pastor about the hurting people that the Lord brought into my life, (which I accepted gladly) and how I did not know “why” all these people with tragedies were my “assignment” from the Lord for those months, but I was trusting Him, not knowing the “why” of all these painful tragedies. In his response to me, the pastor said that “often Christians think that the Lord is the one who brings these people into our lives, when in reality it is our own fault that we are put upon by others, because we have not put up the “Boundaries” to keep these people out of our lives, so they do not take all our time and energy”. He told me some of those people I probably should stay away from; they probably needed professional help. He suggested it was my own fault I was so exhausted because I did not put my hand up to keep them at bay, I did not say “no” to these people from imposing on my life. This time, “I WAS TOO LOVING” to those who needed it: to my dear Christian brethren, family and friends. The Lord brought me through suffering so I could minister to the suffering in 2009. I was shamed and confused by his response. It was my fault for choosing to love and minister to the hurting that the Lord DID bring into my life in His sovereign plan for my life. The pastor’s “counsel” was devastating to me. Where was the love of Jesus? I was confused, disheartened and discouraged to say the least.

My soul was being destroyed by religion. My relationship with Christ was being damaged by all this. I got the call from God to come out in January 2010 the moment my husband said to me, “I think we are done with —–(this Church)”. At that very moment, God released me from that Church. At that very moment, God released me from the Babylon of the organized Churchianity System. “You are released, free to follow Me.” He called me out –and I ran for the door– exiting Churchianity. God has freed me to follow Jesus Christ unhindered, without shame, bondage and lies. Now I listen to my Shepherd. Now I follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

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The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23

For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick….Ezekiel 34

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