"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Amazing Grace

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Amazing Grace

Thank you, exLLC, for your post under the previous topic. I'm reposting it below with a name removed and some typo corrections (because I think it is better that we keep personal identities private, and for ease in translation for our non-English readers). I was surprised at the methods and words of your LLC brethren. It still stuns me that this kind of behavior is seen as compassionate! You handled it very well, and I'm thrilled that you've found a new faith community and are thriving. Bless your Granny! Her love is certainly flowing through you. And now, who knows how many you will help with your story? Thank you for sharing. (Please let me know if I erred in my edits.)

It was July 30, 2005 when I was first considered an unbeliever by the LLC. That was one month and 18 days ago. I would like to share my experiences. I wrote the following on August 4, four days later.

My church teaches that we should be like a open book and talk freely about our trials in faith. I think this is a healthy thing to do. I see other people talking about their troubles freely, and I wished I could do the same. The problem was that I have rejected the church's teachings that have no basis on the Bible, and I wanted to keep it a secret (for now). I've never talked to anyone inside the church about my views and what I thought was wrong in the church. The result was that I became like a closed book, and I hid many things from my loved ones that I so badly wanted to share. Living like this can be very frustrating. I have been praying A LOT for this to change. I asked God that He would make me like an open book again, and to be around people who I could be open with. God has answered my prayers.

I posted a part of my diary on the Learning to Live Free blog, anonymously. Apparently the church elders read the blog too. Even though I was anonymous, there were enough hints in my posting for someone who was determined to find out who I was. Apparently there were some people who where determined. It was the last day of July when a group of Laestadians confronted me.

I was asked “How are your matters of faith?”

“Good,” I replied.

“Have you been thinking about leaving the church?”

I lied: “No”

“I don't think you completely understand my question, have you been thinking about leaving the LLC?”

“Umm, no . . . I really don't want to leave.”

“Are you the one who has been writing online about how you don't like the church?”

“Ya, well, i did post one thing, if it's the same thing you're talking about.”

Wow, this was the moment I had been dreading for years. And to make things worse, they where talking about what I wrote in my journal. I looked around the room and wondered if everyone in it had read that part of my diary. I was so embarrassed. But this moment that I had been dreading wasn't as bad as I had feared. This was the first time that I told a Laestadian my discontent with the church. We had quite a discussion, and it felt so good to share with these people what I have learned from the Bible and kept secret. It was like a heavy burden was lifted off me. I realized that I was now being like an open book, and that is exactly what I had been praying for, I then rejoiced knowing God had answered my prayers, even though it was not in the way I had expected.

It was a discussion that I will never forget. We talked a lot about how big the kingdom of God is. I shared with them that the one thing that I don't like about the church is that it teaches that we are the only Christians. I said that if that wasn't taught, then I really wouldn't have a problem with the church.

Harsh words where said, like M-- telling me “Well, we can't pretend that that you are a believer any more.” Hearing that was hurtful, but I expected it, and I felt no anger towards the man. We talked about why I am not considered a believer, and as far as gathered, it is because I disagree with some things in the doctrine. I am "not a Christian" because I think that attending church at the LLC is not a requirement to get into heaven (even though I've been receiving the forgiveness of sins their way).

I think I rattled those folks. I think they where expecting me to do one of two things when they confronted me: 1. to conform and repent or 2. to become angry and reject my faith. I did neither one. I definitely didn't conform, I didn't deny my faith but said I disagree with you, and instead of being filled with anger I showed love. I don't think
anyone knew how to handle this, for M--, the one who had been leading this whole talk, suddenly left without any explanation. We continued the discussion without him, but then I noticed a chair of another preacher suddenly became empty. They kept leaving until there was just one other person in the room, then she had to leave also.

I was questioned a lot if I was going to leave the church. I kept on saying “I don't know what I'll do. It's true, I really don't know what I'll do now, but it isn't worrying me. As for the very near future, I think I'll do about the same thing as before. I will go to church, sometimes at the LLC, sometimes at different churches. I will tell other people my situation and hear their advice, from Laestadians and non-Laestadians. My grandmother told me that nobody can kick me out of the church. I am not going to start a reformation or go around telling people that the church is wrong and they need to leave. So I think my granny is probably right.. My grandmother also told me that she still considers me a Christian. It is really wonderful that the person who I love the most in my church still accepts me.

If there's anyone out there who is going through a situation similar to mine, I have some advice.

--Remember that most of the people in your church are Christians. I know that it is easy to think otherwise, but they serve the same God you do. Judge not lest you be Judged.

--God does not want a division in the church.

--If you are angry or bitter with the people in the church in general, do not confront them. Acting out on your anger can really screw things up.

--Visit other churches, talk to the pastors about what you are going through. At the very least, just find someone to talk to.

--Pray . . . every day. God will answer.

--Oh, and be careful of what you say on this website. It's being watched.

Fast forward one month and 18 days, and I have only been to the LLC once since then. I have been going to another church which has turned out pretty good for me.

I had another spiritual experience Labor Day weekend. I went to a camp-out with my new church. This was my very first church-camp I have ever been to outside of the LLC. I had so much fun there. We were out in the pines trees overlooking a meadow. At first I only knew a couple people there, but everyone was so nice to me that by the end of the weekend everyone seemed like family. I was able to make some great new friends and get to know some of the people in the new church. I taught the youth some campfire games, and provided them with marshmallows and i personally made as many s'mores as I could for the youth. I organized kick-the-can games and flashlight tag, then I stayed awake until the morning just chatting with a couple newly-made friends. We had a Hawaiian luau, and held Sunday services. The entire weekend was a blast for me. It gave me a sense of "I belong with these people," something I've been longing for. The entire weekend I was at peace. My intention was to take lots of pictures and post them on-line, but the brand-new batteries i bought only had enough juice for one picture. I'll try to post it here.

A month from now, I will be going to a youth convention. This convention will be huge. There will be a battle-of-the-Christian-bands, plus a gigantic worship service involving thousands of youth. We will be transported 100 miles into the big city and we'll rent a bunch of motel rooms for the weekend. I'm so excited, I've never been to anything like this before, hey, worshiping is kind of new concept to me. This time I'll be sure to buy Duracells for the camera, and I'll tell you guys all about it. God's Peace.


  1. I do not know who you are, whether male of female, but I am one year older than you and a believer from a different congregation than Minneapolis. Your post left me cold, concerned and filled with a great sadness. I only ask you this...when you had all these doubts, how was your conscience? Many times, unbelief starts with music, and then movies, and then progresses into darkness, where we do not understand or accept God's word anymore. Remember we do not use the the forgiveness of sins as freedom to do sin, it is freedom from sin. The forgiveness of sins is unconditonal, but it is so important that we stay in the center of his flock, and not one foot in the world. Remember, the kingdom of God is like a flock of sheep with wolves on the outside. You would want to stay at the center, not living on the edge, where the wolves (the devil) can devour you. Perhaps, your conscience suffered, and so did your understanding. It is true, that when the holy spirit leaves us, we are in the dark. It is not up to you,to "re-join" the kingdom of God. If you truly desire to reach that heavenly home.. Pray, dear one, for a humble, child-like heart. Pray for understanding. Pray that you will be granted the grace of repentance. God is a merciful God. Remember our life is not in our hands. We must be watching and ready for our time. You said God's Peace, at the end of your letter. You will not find God's peace in the world. Dead churches can only give false security. But you probably won't recognize this. When the light of faith is snuffed out, we are in the dark. We can no longer see or understand things of God's kingdom. The greatest sin is unbelief, but even that sin can be forgiven.
    "What reward for my pain will you give unto me, And how will you pay for my suffering? When I'm calling for you, you reject all my pleas And harden your heart as you tarry. You are just as a stone, still unyielding and cold, Your mind is so thankless, to sin it is sold, And filled with vain schemes and defenses. Now ye sinner O hasten and come unto me, Reject all your evil and sinning. As a gift I will bless you with righteousness pure And never remember your straying. But with gifts of the Spirit will beautify you, In all of your trials I will e'er strengthen you, And give you a crown once in glory."

    I ask you, dear young one, have you not witnessed the joys and peace of being a believer? I, too, once had one foot in the world. And in this time, I was lost, angry, and confused. But I heeded the warnings God's word teaches us. And now I recognize the dangers of living with one foot in the world. We cannot live that way forever. Sooner or later, the spirit will leave us. We are all wretched sinners, but if we truly desire to believe, we will be given strength to resist the temptations that often beset us. And best of all, if we do fall into sin, we can believe it forgiven and forgotten, and battle other temptations with a clean slate. It is so, so important to keep a clean conscience. I do not know what else to say, only that I will pray for you, that God will lead you to his kingdom once more.

  2. Note: The LLC (Laestadian Lutheran Congregation) is NOT the OALC or the Apostolic Lutheran Church. At one time these groups and others were one, but because of serious errors in the doctrine there were many heresies. The LLC is the original of Lars Levi Laestadius. Many branches (OALC, ALC, etc. have broken off in heresies over time)

  3. Don't you know that only true Laestadians (not fake ones) will be saved? Be very afraid!

  4. Its interesting how the LLC tries to get people back into their church by putting fear into them. Faith does not exist in a church. It exists in your heart. You dont have to walk into a church building of the LLC to believe.

  5. Shouldn't a church build a congregation with love instead of fear and hate towards everyone else?

  6. Many Trails Home9/19/2005 12:07:00 PM

    Dear ex-LLC: Many blessings to you, dear one. I wish I had your level of understanding - and courage - when I was your age. Ignore "Anonymous No. 1" above, would be my advice; those comments are all fear-driven, and God (in spite of certain statements especially in the Old Testament) is not a God of fear.
    May you be steadfast in your love of God (forget "faith", as that much-abused word is used by "the faithful") and everything else will be added unto you. Looks like that prayer is already being answered!
    "Grandmother" MTH

  7. Thank you, Minneapolis LLCer, for putting into print a typical response to those who leaving a coercive church. For any readers who are unfamiliar with "Christian" shaming and fear tactics, your words are educational. For those of us who are all too familiar with that reasoning, your post reminds us of former bondage and current grace.

    I've no wish to shame you. Your motives can be pure and your reasoning flawed. Being young, perhaps you do not understand the presumptions you are making . . . about what is the world, what is the church, what is love. I hope that is the case and that you will prayerfully consider what is Christian about your concepts. May you make room for and welcome a larger concept of grace when it is offered to you.

  8. "Don't you know that only true Laestadians (not fake ones) will be saved? Be very afraid!"

    My initial reaction upon reading the above was that someone was joking. I'm still not sure someone isn't just trolling. But if that is not just a troll post, I would like to refer you to the words of Jesus from Mark 9:

    38And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

    39But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

    40For he that is not against us is on our part.

    The poster above has the spirit of John, not of Jesus. I am so sorrowful to see how unhealthy the LLC appears to be, based on the response to exLLC.

    To anyone from a church based on fear, I would like to tell you that the spirit of God is not a spirit of fear, but of one of love, peace, understanding, and joy in the Holy Ghost. You CAN know the truth that sets you free from these unhealthy fear-based forms of religion.

    God, please save us from those who claim to be your followers!

  9. Remember: hate is learned. The LCC members are passing this doctrine down to their children. My heart goes out to the children in that church. You will often hear apostolics say that they "believe like children" and have a "childlike faith" (simple). If this is what is being preached there, it's not being followed. As I said before, hate is not a natural part of a young child.

  10. Whew! what a letter. (referring to the 1st comment) I just want to encourage you exllc. The spirit will lead and guide you just as surely as anyone else.You will know if the church you choose to attend has a real faith.

    The spirit of fear found in that 1st letter is all too common. We aren't supposed to hide our light under a bushel, or put a protective bubble around us. We need to have faith that God will be with us always.

    Does the author of the second post realize that there are people in the "heresy branches" who would write an identical letter??!! (as the first one)

    God Bless you all....

  11. I at first assumed the first letter was written by a member of the OALC, since it's so identical to what I heard growing up in the OALC. Do these three branches, OALC, ALC, and LLC realize they call each other heresy branches and at the same time preach identical messages and use identical language? As far as I can tell, they all believe basically the same thing. They just feel you have to be in the correct BUILDING to be saved. I wish they would reach out to each other in Christian love. Wouldn't
    that be something--representatives from each branch could have a meeting, asking the Lord to guide them, and then find common ground so they could quit using up spiritual energy to blast each other. Maybe it's just more fun to do it the way they do it. Reminds me of my cat--every time he goes outside he has to carefully scope out the area, stay in a strike position until all is clear, and then very carefully proceed. There isn't any danger in our yard, but how much more fun he manages to make his exits from the house. Careful Cat, a sorrwless one might get you!

  12. I don't think it's fair to include the ALC in that list of three if by ALC you mean the Federation. Are you familiar with the ALC? I am, and I haven't experienced the same things in the ALC.

  13. Your right, I wouldn't include the ALC. Most of them do not believe and preach that they are the only ones. The pollarites also do not seem to be as exclusive. But, I would include the First Apostolic (FALC). They are extremely exclusive.

  14. I've heard that the FALC is getting to be almost as bad as the OALC. Is this true? If so, those people may need help on this site, as well.

  15. Good--I didn't know that the ALC wasn't preaching the the same line as the others and certainly would not have included them in my cat analogy had I been aware. I'm sorry. Could someone clear this up--who besides the OALC preach exclusivity (a fancy word for being the only RIGHT church). Is it just the First Apostolic (FALC) and the Laestadian Lutheran Congregation (LLC)? I sure don't want to say anything that's not true. God Bless you all.

  16. I have family in the FALC and the LLC. I am an ex-FALC member. Yes, they are both very exclusive.

  17. Hi All ~ I currently attend an ALC church. I believe exclusivity is wrong, as do many of our members and Pastors/Preachers. But you will find those in our churches who believe we are the only Christians. If they don't come right out an say it, they certainly give that impression in their conversation, which is just as misguiding in my book. Comments like "there are no Christians living in that area". Perhaps they don't mean it the way it sounds, but it stems from yrs ago when that exclusivity belief was much stronger. And if the other person who commented earlier defending the ALC disagrees with me, remember how varied our churches can be. We have a couple in our Federation which are quite close to the OALC. Also I have first hand experience with it, I was raised with the " we are the only ones" belief.
    Again, I don't believe that as a whole, the ALC teaches that, but it was there.

  18. In reply to the comment above mine: the poster is correct in that there are many different stripes of ALCer and you will hear varying degrees of exclusivism. But in the ALC, I personally never heard the type of explicit exclusivism practiced by the FALC and OALC. The exclusivism I heard was more of an implicit one in using the word "Christian" to mean ALCer.

    Even in the Chassell church, which would be one of the most conservative churches associated with the ALC, no one there that I know of would explicitly say that only ALCers or Chassellites will be saved. On the contrary, I heard explicit denunciations of that sort of idea from long-time Chassellites.

    To sum up: there is great variety within the ALC, and a form of implicit exclusivism (by lack of thought and lack of care with words) is present in some ALCers.

  19. I think this discussion is important, in that many people (like myself) have not been aware of the differences. Now I understand that the LLC, OALC and the FALC all teach exclusivism. Some ALC may believe that line, but it's not one of the central issues. So, we are all on the same page here. Now, I would sure like to hear from members of the three churches about what the real differences are. The actual facts of what one church believes that is different from what the other two believe.

  20. I would like to address the word faith. I still have faith. I have faith that Jesus died on the cross to forgive my sins. I have faith that the Lord will look after me and guide me. I have faith that the heavenly father loves me, and I will rejoin him in heaven one day.

    I know this to be true because it is the words of Jesus Christ. Not because an LLC preacher told me, not because the preacher in my new church told me, not even because of what Lars Levi Laustius said, but because it is the teachings of Jesus Christ. I know this because I opened up my bible and started reading his teachings for myself. When I read the bible, I don’t jump around from verse to verse trying to prove a point, I read it strait-through.

    If you asked me how I know I am saved, I would open up my bible to John 3.16 and say, See Jesus Christ said I will have eternal Life right here, Then I would turn to another verse and say, look, Jesus said it again right here. I could show you scripture after scripture that proves that I am saved.

    Now I ask the LLC members, how do you know you are saved. Is it because a preacher told you that you are saved? Did a family member tell you where saved? Is it because someone recited a few verses from John 20, and then told you that your sins where forgiven? Did a person tell you that your sins are forgiven, and you believed that person? Or did you start reading the bible for yourself and heed the word of Jesus Christ?

    If the answer is not my last sentence, then I encourage you to examine yourself and think about how you know you are saved. If you want to grow in your faith, read the bible for yourself, strait through like you would any other book. Read the book of John, Acts, Romans. Read the whole books. You will become stronger in your faith, and you will know you are saved without a doubt.

  21. Former FALC member9/21/2005 05:45:00 PM

    "Now, I would sure like to hear from members of the three churches about what the real differences are."
    The LLC and FALC are very similar in way of preaching. However, the FALC has NO missionary work out of the church. The LLC has some, as far as I know. The kids can play sports in school(LLC kids cannot). Kids in each church are told to date within the church. During the LLC/FALC split in 1973, it was said that the FALC said TV was ok, LLC said no, TV is sin. However, the LLC is starting to allow TV and a few of the kids can play sports in school. Its very sad how things like this can divide a church. Reminds us where they have their focus...law and tradition!

  22. Thanks former--the TV and sports issues are their rules, but what is the belief behind it that determines what their rules are? That, I think, is the hard question. What does an OALC member think about Jesus, the Bible, salvation, etc., that is different then the FALC and the LLC member believes. It has to be an answer that goes beyond "We are the right ones". WHY are you right? Do you interpret what Laestadius preached in different ways then the other two churches? T

  23. If you asked a LLCer, they would tell you that the bible said there is only one true church, and the LLC is that church. In order to receive the forgiveness of sins, then you need to find someone with the Holy Ghost, (only LLC members have the holy ghost) and have them tell you “believe all your sins forgiven in Jesus name in precious blood”. The concept is that when a true believer tells you that, the Holy Ghost inside of that person forgives your sin. Is this the same way it works in other Laustadien churches?

    If the other laustadien churches do the same thing, According the LLC, it is not a valid way to receive the forgiveness of sins because nobody in the other churches has the Holy Spirit. It would just be words they are saying. After all, the Bible said there is one church, therefore, it must be the LLC.

    Was TV really one of the issues in the 1973 split? Does the FALC really watch TV? In the LLC it is still said that watching TV is a sin, but many people have them and watch them, even the preachers, but mainly educational videos and some even have moved on to Disney movies. Nobody talks about it though.

    FALC kids can play sports in school, huh? That's news to me. I've never heard of an LLC kid playing sports in school.

    An LLC preacher told me that one of the reasons of the split was because the FALC was trying to mix country music in with their worship music. Does the FALC say that county music is OK? What about other genres of music? Is it incorporated with their hymns?

    You mentioned that the LLC does missionary work. They have recently established new congregations in Equidor and Togo. I have mixed feelings about these missionary trips. It is good that these Africans are coming to know Christ, but it Isn't good that they are also accepting an abusive church.

    Community service is also becoming more popular. In this months “The Voice of Zion”, the churches newspaper, it explains how the LLC in Michigan is taken part in the Adopt-a -highway program and the LLC is in charge of keeping 2 miles of highway clean. I also heard that the LLC also took up a Hurricane Katrina fund and are donating to the victims.

    Besides rules and tradition, the only doctrinal difference between most Laustadien churches is.

    Church1- “The bible said there is only one church, that church is us.”

    Church2- “Nope, that one church is us, not you guys, your heretics, and you separated from us.”

    Church1- “No we didn't! You guys separated from us. You guys are the heretics. Look at your laws, there different from us, and that's sin. Sinners! Only True Laustadiens are saved. Be afraid, very afraid.”

    They seem like the exact same church to me, they most both be the one true church mentioned in the Bible.

  24. The OALC says,"All sins forgiven in Jesus name and precious blood of reconciliation". Remember there are 3 seperate churches we are talking about--the OALC, the FALC, and the LLC. How would Laestadius take the news that there are 3 churches that proclaim to be the only right church? Sure wanting some members of the 3 to tell us what the big differences are in what they believe. Not the church rules about sports etc., but what is different about what the Bible and Laestadius tells each group.

  25. Well, so far no one is answering the question. Doesn't anyone know the answer?

  26. Excerpt from Detroit News
    9/25/05 page 21 A

    "Why I lost faith in my church"

    "I am disheartened by the
    territorialism of churches,
    vying for control and member-
    ship, as a deacon at a Baptist
    church said to me recently,
    in much the same way as gangs,
    rather than seeing themselves
    as partners in a vineyard with
    one Lord and a single purpose."


  27. Thanks Troll--"partners in a vineyard" is a beautiful concept. Still no answers to what are the real differences between the churches. REAL differences--not just saying "I'm right-you're wrong!".

  28. I dont see any differences between the three churches. Only external differences...

  29. I hope some dialog between members of these 3 groups would start. We all look alike, sound alike, and except for spending the past thinking the others are wrong, we are alike!!!!! Oh, I guess we have been alike in that too!

  30. Seems to me the problem is not that there are differences, it's the way they were addressed. Instead of saying this is the way we prefer to worship, so lets separate amicably. People instead insisted on the "we're the only right ones." So what could have been just different congregations, turned into different churches.

    Just my thoughts. I personally would rather see people leave and start their own church, than to have constant tension and friction. But that works best if people are willing to except other ways of worship(anything different than their own) as Christian.

  31. Oops that should be accept, not except.

  32. I agree with every word of the previous post. Since the preachers are all guys, could it be kind of a macho thing? I win! What they have won is an indication of how narrow minded that belief system is. They can't even accept other Laestadious believers as being like them. For Heaven's sake, I hope some of the younger ones can make some friendships between themselves and realize they are on the same page. Maybe it's just more fun to become ever more exclusive.

  33. According to LLC website(Detroit)
    1973 split was due to among
    other things the understanding
    of justification.

    Does anyone know what this
    difference was and what other
    splits do with:
    James 2-17:
    "Even so faith, if it hath not
    works is dead, being alone"

    Also 14-16

  34. Why are people asking OALC'ers, ALC'ers & LLC'ers to give their word on the differences between them all?

  35. Some people have relatives in some of the churches or are interested in the history, traditions of others.

  36. I agree with anon 9:38 AM. Why would they give their word? So you all can tear their faith apart? When I read these postings I get chills and an unusual sense of sadness. I get the impression you are lost and trying to convince yourself that you aren't. What's the deal?

  37. Dear 9:16 am poster. I assume you are still in one of these churches and probably really believe we are trying to pounce and tear your faith away. I am sad that you think that, although it is understandible if you have grown up in and believe in one of these church's beliefs.

    I think the actual interest of most of the posters here is because most of us have grown up in one of these churches and have never had any idea what the other churches beliefs are like - other than being told they are heretics and have given up their faith.

    I find it fascinating to see the similarities: partly because I never knew there were so many other branches of Laestadianism and partly because there really ARE so many similarities and yet my church, at least, spent so much time differentiating itself from the other branches (my group LLC, seemed to focus on 1973 split with the FALC).

    I can tell you my purpose in posting truly is for the above reasons: it's not to try to make you lose your faith - I don't believe I have lost or given up my faith, despite leaving the LLC. Instead, I have found it.

    I believe that Christ died for me so that despite all my flaws, I am perfect in God's eyes - and that is Grace.

    I believe the focus on trying to confess to another human being so that they can forgive all our sins before we die or we will be going to Hell, is a wrong teaching because it focuses on what the individual must do to earn salvation (or to not lose it).

    That makes me sad to think people are so terrified of going to Hell despite trying their best. How can you have joy in the Lord when you are so frightened?

    I do believe it's very important to attempt to find what God wants for each of us and to live our lives that way. However, we are only human (God made us human!) and we are going to fail repeatedly; but if we keep picking ourselves up and trying again, that is the key.

    Jesus has already paid the price for our sins; there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. Is it important to have the reassurance that our sins are forgiven? Of course! But God forgives-through Christ's sacrifice and our repentance: Laestadians don't have the capability to forgive another individual - of course they can reassure the individual that there sins are already forgiven because Jesus paid the price.

    "Wordly" people still have consciences; they want to do what's right. Most people care about obeying the Country's laws and wanting to do right to their family and friends and neighbors.

    I think that God loves us all - after all, he made us! We are his children!

  38. ex-mplsllc,
    No, I don't have a faith, particularily for that reason. There is so much bitterness (although you'll probly deny it), jealousy (although you'll probly deny that too), frustration, the list goes on and on. I don't think this is what the Bible (whichever it is) upholds that. However, who am I to say since I don't believe in either. This site was not designed for help leaving these churches. It was designed to give assurance to ex-members convincing themselves of how good and righteous they are. And OALC members trying desperately to defend themselves.
    Read this site and put aside your faith while you do. All I see is people tearing one person's faith apart, building up their own goodness, and doing it all over again. Although I have no knowledge of the Bible you use, according to this site and the passages you use, the Bible was not refering to any of this foolishness.
    PS. Please don't 'pray' for me, I'm tired of you people praying that others can see the light. I don't want your kind of light. If you must pray, pray that I can find the farthest place away from you 'real winners' as possible.

  39. Dear anonymous 9:56.

    I would agree with you that the bible doesn't encourage people to have bitterness, jealousy, frustration, etc. The opposite, in fact. I've read parts of several different bibles (not all of one)King James; New International (NIV); The Message - Remix. I certainly can't say I'm an expert.

    One part of what you said "All I see is people tearing one person's faith apart, building up their own goodness, and doing it all over again."

    I think that had I run across this message board shortly after I left "the church" I would have thought the same thing you did. In fact, I wanted nothing to do with religion, the bible, churches for 15 years. I was certainly taught in church that people who referred to Christianity the way this board typically does are self righteous and believe they are "better christians." I can say, for myself, I don't absolutely don't, believe I'm a "better christian" that someone else. I do feel joy in my beliefs now, although looking back I do not believe that if I had died in that 15 years after leaving, I would have gone to Hell. I just don't believe God is that mean.

    I had a little ah, don't know how to describe it...for lack of a better term...really good religious experience that made me ok with letting the past be in the past and I was finally ready to move in another direction.

    If you have left (or are considering leaving one of these churches) I highly recommend reading Steven Hassan's book "Combatting Cult Mind Control." It helped me understand why I was having such difficulty after leaving my church. I believe that my particular church had a lot of characteristics of a cult. He has written other books on the subject - but that is probably the best one I have read. There is also another book called "Influence" that discusses how beliefs are formed and/or manipulated and I also found quite interesting. Neither of these books is religious and is certainly not about pointing someone to yet another "Christian" option.

    They helped my get a grounding on my actions, my despair, the common experience that others leaving cults experienced with me. The shunning for example....it sucks, it really does.

  40. What I find here is a group of people who grew up under a similar set of "rules", who have left those "rules" and continue to believe that we're Christians. It's important to have a support group so to speak. Some have had harder trials to get here, and "lost" family and friends in the process, and really need a friendly voice who understands their pain and frustration. Stating the truth about their past/present situation, doesn't mean they're trying to tear others down. Remember Christians AREN'T perfect, and won't be on this earth. We will make mistakes, but the goal of a Christian isn't to live a perfect life, but to do God's will for us, and ultimately reach Heaven.
    I'll be praying that you will come to know Christ. And it can be far away, because Christ is everywhere. But please don't be angry because on one small group of people on this planet earth.
    God's peace be with you.

  41. ex-mplsllc and anon above,
    Thank you SO much for the kind words. I was expecting harsh words (like others have done). I realize my words were rather rude, and was very surprised and comforted. You'd be surprised how much respect you earn by being polite.
    I'm sorry you were shunned. I don't think anyone, no matter what faith, should be shunned. And if I understand correctly, from the OALC members writing on this site, they don't believe in shunning others.
    All I wanted from this was to see if anyone out there would jump on me and attack the OALC, or if they'd actually reach out. You chose the latter.
    Thank you.

  42. Oh boy! I'ld love to take credit, but I can't. The honor and glory go to God, who answered my prayers again.

  43. I attend the OALC and really did not know about all of the other groups except to know that "they" broke from us and are heresy. Stay clost to the flock and do not stray away. The world hates us! Do not look on the internet.. be carefull you can loose your Christianity in the blink of an eye! I do agree that what would LLS think about all of the splits?

    I to am now just reading the Bible and discovering that Jesus died for the sins of the world and not just OALC etc. He has paid the price. Dressing a certain way and trusting in man does not get you there. I continue on day by day learning God's word.