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Snakes And Critters Along the Trail


By now (year 2005), many Christians in America, Australia, NZ, and the UK know that there has been a mass 'exodus' out of traditional church settings. The popular term adopted for the settings they have left is "the I.C.", or the Institutionalized Church. Let's face it, "Institutionalized Church" is an insulting term. At best, it implies a boarding school for young and impressionable students.  At worst, it implies a prison, a mental institution, or other highly structured lockdown facility for the unmanageable, the unlawful, or the disturbed. 

Such terms as these can give opportunity for easy misunderstanding. They can also lead to snobbery and counter-snobbery.  Yet for those who are enjoying spirituality without the artificial confinement of an elite priesthood class, it does express the fact that they are now, indeed, 'free'.   They can now explore and express their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ without denominational barriers, sectarian demands, or harmful religious peer pressure.

Or at least they hope they can. 

In Deuteronomy 29, Moses announces an oath (covenant) between the Lord God and his people.  He says, however, that God's people are not only those whose ancestors are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but also the 'gentiles' who are with them that day, "as well as those not here today." By this we know that God's people are of course, not limited to our particular "group" of people. They are in the I.C., as well as outside of it. 

Group snobbery is never condoned by God on the basis of physical attributes or certain conditions that cannot be helped.  Revelation and the leading of the Lord comes from God, and although we must then follow after Him, what we left behind in spiritual "Egypt" are those errors that really should be left in Egypt, right? 

Moses stated,  " You yourselves know how we lived in Egypt and how we passed through the countries on the way here.  You saw among them their detestable images and idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold." (verses 16-17)

Any "Institutionalized Church" that is beholden to the gods of Mammon, religious status, legalism, social power, or any other false god (ambition) could rightly be consider "Egypt" in the spiritual sense.  A return to "Egypt" would be the last thing on our minds.

However, what if "Egypt" is within us? What if it is within the people around us? What then? 

One thing is for certain, it is not wise to deny that possibility. 

"Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison." (verse 18)

I have consistently heard reports from committed Christians that their spiritual lives outside of the land of spiritual "Egypt" have been far richer than anything inside of it.  You can expect that in the absence of spiritual abuse or peer pressure to "serve" the 'gods' that many men serve in certain religious institutions. 

However, we cannot assume that a change of location will rescue us from continued difficulty with "Egypt". 

At the beginning of our ministry, the Lord warned us that there would be 'error' in the 'unstructured church'.  We spoke of it and warned about it, but we did not realize that we would soon be taken through trials of personal hardship because of it. 

My husband and I have spent a total of nine years in a rather anonymous, obscure fashion.  We are not the only ones to conduct our ministry like this, but we have offered our gifts and talents freely and never asked for money or other compensation.  We have engaged in many activities of personal or 'ministry' assistance to others in a variety of ways--often unknown ways.

Our experiences during this time reinforced the following facts for us: 

  • Nothing is confined to the "I.C." It is just more 'official' there and more likely to be officially sanctioned, because it is more acceptable for people to give themselves more power. 
  • Even though a person or group of people presents themselves as fellow 'non-I.C.'ers, it is vitally important to pay attention to their 'Egyptian' behavior. This includes double-mindedness, lies or deception, hidden agenda, hostility (James 3:13-18)  and other forms of unChristlikeness and lack of brotherly kindness. 
The following facts, however, surprised us during these first years, especially in regards to its intensity:
  • supporting certain people on a co-worker basis seemed to cause them to become puffed up and abusive, unable or unwilling to follow even the most basic (to us) standards of Christian behavior or civil politeness.
  • serving certain people as uncontrolling 'servant leaders' while being generous with our time, efforts, and personal support (at financial cost to us) seemed to cause some people to become extremely suspicious in an almost hateful manner. It would often start out in very subtle ways and then suddenly mushroom into horrendous behavior.  At other times, the outright disrespect, ungratefulness, and ingraciousness seemed to have no known source at all.  Certain activities and words revealed a deeper problem of bitterness and rebellion that could not be explained by apparent outside circumstances.
One might rightly say that the above two points are not that profound.  No one can assume that a person who announces that they have left spiritual "Egypt" is truly "converted" away from the ways of Egypt, right? Also, perhaps some people are not really Christians in the first place. 

So on the one hand,  we have had great interactions with true prophets or others Eph. 4:11 type ministries.  On the other hand, there are those who reveal the depth of their carnality. 

However, what astonished me about our most deeply disturbing interactions with certain people was that in almost every case these people were those who claimed to have revelation or understanding.  They often taught non-I.C. principles, parroted understanding of the revelations God gave us, added their own in some cases, agreed with us on some very specific points, and then violated their own teachings or stated principles in some astonishing ways. 

This is the height of spiritual blindness. It's the same old story as it was 30 years ago when I was a teenager.  Back then, there was an old saying we reminded ourselves of: "Some people talk the talk but don't walk the walk." It was a most truthful saying.

God is not impressed with how eloquent you are, how 'gifted' you are, or how well you look to others. This includes those who have come into the "non-I.C." camp.   If you or anyone you know has"Egypt" within them, it is important to know that repentence is in order.  Deliverance may also be needed too. Certainly ignoring the problem of religious bondage or sin is not going to help. 

The Lord makes lemonade out of lemons.  So, much of the material in my writings in these early years are a result of prayer and seeking the Lord during and after a trial or tribulation with extremely trying people or situations.  This fact is briefly referred to on our webpage called Why We Speak Out Against Abusive 'Christianity'.    Yet of course, at the time of any writing, there were no announcements about any particular people or incidents inspired have inspired them. We have not abused people by privately saying nothing to them in person, while publicly preaching at them with our writings or preachings.  More often it was the reverse, as we pondered what, if anything, the Lord would have us do or learn. Therefore most writings have been well after the fact. 

Nevertheless some of these trials have been quite brutal or perplexing.   While considering how to help other Christians in ministry feel less alone or perplexed during sudden and unexpected reversals of people's behavior, I decided to describe -- very briefly -- a couple of particular events.  Along with the descriptions, I include links to the writings they ultimately inspired, and I describe how God intervened.

The Attempted Take Over

For instance, in 1995, e-mail lists were not easy or free to set up.  There was once an attempted hostile take-over of our early informal e-mail list by a 'homechurch' leader  (promises were made of help, vile accusations were made on our e-mail list which was suddenly moderated list without anyone's consent, a former 'co-worker' attempted to plagiarize revelatory writings as her own and made some irrational demands, offending all in the process, and then God provided the means for our own list and we all left...).  After this, I engaged in some defensive writing over unmoderated e-mail lists which included a write-up on how to run an unmoderated list in a righteous manner:

Establishing the Agenda

This is left on our website for anyone who is led of the Lord to start an unmoderated list. 

Many people stated they were blessed by our unmoderated lists for the purposes of open, free-flowing fellowship or discussion.  We do recognize that spamming has become a problem in recent years.  However, the only time a list is spammed is if someone can send to the list from outside of the list, or temporarily joins the list just to spam.

Perpetrators who spiritually abuse first establish a relationship where they are superior in some way. There are some early signs that I learned from my poor encounters with these "non-I.C." folks and others.  The Lord showed me some wisdom from the Scripture and I wrote about it here:

Mentoring and Accountability by Teri Lee Earl

Dangerous Unkindness

When we are young in Christ, we are sometimes tempted to write off all harsh events as being "from the devil." While they may very well be, it is wise to consider where God is in all of it, or what He may be saying in it. If we look over certain events of our lives, we may find out that He may actually be giving us a certain subject to remain focused on, or even a cause to become passionate about.  In keeping with our future activities or callings, He may be giving us a deeper sense of empathy and wisdom that only comes from multiple experiences with deep sufferings. 

I believe a lot of people can relate to the following tribulation I am going to describe, because these are the types of things that can happen in the I.C. 'dog eat dog' (or 'brother kick brother') world.  Now I will not bother naming names, but I do assure the reader that the events below did not happen in the I.C. at all.  My report will once again include God's interventions in the matter.  However, before I say anything more, I would like to thank certain people in detail, while also giving at least one great report of what can happen in  "non-I.C." relationships--the type of thing that cause joy of the heart and can and does outweigh all times past, even if it does not obliterate the very real results of sin and Satan: 

People I Would Like To Thank

I would like to thank my friend Alisa for being obedient to the Lord in offering her friendship in late 1999, at a crucial time when others who called themselves "friends" abandoned me. (the report of this is below)

I would like to thank Michael Clark for praying for me over the phone.  As I told him, the progression of the illness seemed to halt afterwards.   I would also like to thank a lady who was non-I.C. at the time, named Denise. She traveled over forty-five minutes by car to bring us dinners even though she did not know us at all-- as soon as she heard I was suffering.  She is currently back in an I.C. church because of the wishes of her husband, but she says that she is doing well.   Also, Eric Weiss was kind enough to patiently listen to me belly-ache sometimes over my illness and other things.  I tried not to complain too often, but sometimes the whole thing got to me.

I would also like to thank Steve W. Morris.  This prophet gave me a Word from the Lord about God's purpose in my severe physical pain.  Currently he has decided to remain anonymous on his own website but I will name him here.

Most of all, I would like to thank my family for their support during these hard times.  I have a great husband and three wonderful daughters.  They have often been involved with many aspects of both the joys and trials of being "outside of the camp."

Finally, I would like to acknowledge that there has been a totally different story to tell if I were to tell it in full.  This has involved a person we met at a homechurch fellowship we attended.  This person has interacted with us on a sometimes daily basis for over two years. Together we have 'weathered' through personal difficulties and hardships, conflicts and great distress both person to person and in e-mail, mutual critique and observation, and many other things--Most importantly, a great deal of real Christian love--whatever was in our power to do for each other.

With less of an advantaged background and more hardship, this young adult is a consistently a person of integrity today.  No fanfare, no superspiritual goosebumps, no fancy revelations except for the sense of family and commitment.

Real change and real transformation, and real healing.

That is what is possible.

This is what Christ died for-- His family.  His brothers and sisters.  His friends.  Anyone who would let themselves BE these things.

Now for an antithesis, or the opposite, of what is possible:

Pain and Illness-- 'Friendly' Fire (1999-2003)

This particular series of tribulations was rather 'non-stop'.  Remember while you read this, that my  "thanks" was able to be said to those non-I.C.ers who were kind, and ministry was able to go on in the Lord to the best of our ability, only because I survived this with God's help and grace... 

In late 1999, I contracted a sudden, very serious illness.  It was undiagnosed at first. I was in a great deal of pain and swelling which was localized to one foot.   The pain was so severe that it was debilitating. A certian non-I.C. brother and sister personally witnessed me in pain when it all began.  They even prayed for me.

Shortly thereafter from their separate houses, the 'sister' of these two decided to give me the silent treatment by e-mail.  Many months later, I found out what her complaint against me may have been because a third party friend sent me an e-mail she wrote to him.  In my friend's mind, her complaint was petty.  However, she never notified me of what she was thinking directly, so I will never know for certain.

In any case, stating that I was in pain at the time made no difference to her. She did not even acknowledge she had received any of my e-mails.  I was mystified and even alarmed for her well-being, since at one time I answered e-mails from her on a daily basis.  My husband and I had no reason to believe that she or her husband would do this sort of thing, and had every reason to believe that they couldn't.  We could not call because we did not have their phone number at the time.

However, upon occasion, I kept asking via e-mail whether she was all right.  After a month of this, she finally responded that she was okay and had done this deliberately.  Astonished, I then protested the silent treatment.  She and her husband then attempted to shame me for saying that their silent treatment hurt me!  I then reminded them that at one time both of she and I had discussed the silent treatment.  In fact, she had once told me that others had hurt her with the silent treatment, and I had agreed with her that such a thing can be quite cruel.  It seemed odd and stunning that she was now doing this to me, I said, with no explanation at all (Do unto others as you would have them do onto you....).  At almost the same time, I also got a report that she was doing this to someone else who she did not know well.

Then her husband sent a very nasty e-mail ----Then there was stone silence once again.

Looking back, a short goodbye from my husband and I to them would have been the best course of action.  However, at that time we were emotionally stunned. 

After a few months more of silence, they wrote to us thanked us for our ministry to them in a 'goodbye' letter.  By that time, such a letter was unnecessary in my opinion.  It is always interesting how people can assume you want them in your lives after they have so thoroughly rejected you.  This 'goodbye' letter blamed their decision on a dream the sister had a whole year prior.  If that was the case, then why did it take her a whole year to obey the Lord?  And why in this manner? Is cruelty ever justified by the Holy Spirit?

We did not think so.

My husband told them to please not give us any credit for 'mentoring' them or teaching them things at all, since they had learned nothing from us about how to treat other Christians.

All of this occurred just before Christmas, at a time when I was embroiled in the medical mystery of the almost constant, extreme, pain in my foot.  The Lord apparently decided to have mercy upon my distress in an unusual way though.  I suddenly received an e-mail from a lady I did not know from the other side of the United States.  Somewhat nervous about it, she told me that the Lord spoke to her and asked her to be my friend. Wow. What an odd request, it would seem.  However, I understood it as a graceful message from the Lord regarding the loss of the previous woman who had claimed to be my friend.  My new friend sent me some little gifts for Christmas, having no idea at the time how much it meant to me.

In the mean time, I had made the mistake of asking for help from the brother who had witnessed me in pain.  I had supported him or talked with him through binds he had in e-mail with people on previous occasions.   However, I was immediately responded to with harsh put-downs and then withdrawal (no responses) from him.  He too showed no care that I was ill.  When my husband spoke to him, he insulted him.  Amazingly, he said the only reason my husband defended me or my character, was because I was his wife.  Later, this pattern of put downs extended to my daughter at one point on an unrelated matter, though a little more subtle.  She noticed his words very much so.  The pattern was always the same -- negative assumption and much made out of it, and then no response.  My daughter said her peace to him and then wanted nothing more to do with this 'minister' who had once been at our house and eaten at our table. 

When I asked the Lord about this, He said to me very distinctly that these people were "fair weather friends".  It was interesting that the Lord used the word, "weather." This meant two things: 1) I was in for a rough time of 'bad weather' and 2) they were unreliable and shallow friends, which was by that time quite obvious.  Yet now I understood the true reason behind their lack of commitment.  It seemed easy for them to have my husband and I around while we could publicly support their public ministries.  However, when I was no longer operational enough to serve their needs, they dropped out without so much as an acknowledgment to the fact. 

It is of course, good to find out which people will behave like this during a difficult time, so I do not regret finding out what they were really like only a year or so into knowing them.  I have to say though, it was still very distressing to have people call you their 'friend,' then benefit from your friendship and commitment to them, and then ditch you like yesterday's garbage.  It is not the first time of course in our lifetimes that certain Christians have returned evil for good, but the timing of this I found, was downright dangerous to my health. 

At the time though, I had much more important things to concern myself with. The pain in my foot was the beginning of a very serious illness.  Over the course of the next three years I battled Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.  My case did not follow the 'typical' known course of symptoms at the time.  Even a consulting neurologist was somewhat irritated that I had been sent to her with a possible diagnosis of R.S.D., saying with some consternation, "But your foot just swells.  There is some skin mottling but it does not turn blue."

In the mean time, every change in my routine I attempted was to no avail.  I did not 'baby' my foot just in case it was R.S.D., and yet it worsened.  I walked when it seemed to get better and it would flare up again.  I developed bone loss in my foot. Alarmed, one doctor who was convinced I had R.S.D., ordered me into physical therapy.  He did not realize that cold application and aggressive physical therapy would advance the illness.

Sometime afterwards, I went through a cortisone shot and an attempted anesthesis of my foot. However, a part of my foot would not entirely anethesize even after three times the normal dose of lidocaine pumped into it.  I could only describe this as an hour or more of pure torture.  My doctor said he could never again bring himself to do such a thing again.  Not long after, I snapped three bones in my foot.  Fortunately, I did not require surgery to correct the bone displacement in my foot.  I was told by my doctor that no surgeon would want to touch my foot, because strange neurological problems were now proven and they could worsen with surgery.  I did not realize how very severe my illness could get until much later.

Pain medicines do not work well for many neurological disorders.  Thankfully, I avoided them because I understood the properties of narcotic medications and their 'rebound' effect upon the Central Nervous System. 

People who have never suffered depression or other psychological difficulties develop R.S.D.  Even so, regardless of any previous well-adjusted psychological profile, the illness will cause severe depression and anxiety as it progresses. This is because a cascading or "feedback" effect will advance the disease at the brain level, resulting in loss of concentration, memory difficulties, insomnia and depression,  irritability, and even some loss of balance.  I eventually experienced all of these as the illness advanced, but attributed them to chronic pain.  This was only partially correct. I ceased to write for a long time because I had to re-edit so often in order to correct my many mistakes.  Instead, I focused on research and self-education whenever I could.  Subsequently, I edited or removed previous works that I believe were influenced by my pain disorder. They simply were not of very good quality. In fact, as I looked back over these works again, I was sometimes personally amazed at how disjointed some of these writings were.

I now know that this particular neurological disorder is exacerbated by stressful situations.  Therefore any distresses during after I developed R.S.D. --whether emotional or others-- worked together to conspire against my recovery.  I had no idea however that I was in a battle for my life at the time (stroke or heart attack is one of the possible complications).

Considering that it has been said that up to 30% of those with R.S.D. have suicidal thoughts because of the unrelenting pain, I can testify that thankfully I had no such thoughts.  However, after over ten months of often very high levels of pain though (as if a dentist were drilling in your teeth and accidently struck a nerve), I did consider asking my doctor to amputate part of my foot.  I discarded the idea because I reasoned such an action could cause a neurological problem called "phantom pain", but I did eventually admit to my doctor my thoughts.  I also fashioned layers of cardboard to the bottom of my own shoes in an attempt to keep the weight off of part of my foot, so that I could walk without triggering swelling and more pain. At this time I believe I was taken a little more seriously, and I was given what I had been asking for, for the last six months: Special insert orthodics were ordered for both feet to solve the 'repetitive motion injury' that showed up on an MRI. These helped tremendously. Later, my specialist explained to me that just as I thought, R.S.D. can be a nerve injury triggered by a slight injury to that nerve.

I do not fault the dedicated doctors who tried to help me earlier, because R.S.D. is a difficult neurological illness to both diagnose and treat.  At the time, it was standard belief that R.S.D. is not caused by any injury at all, so my theory or requests were disbelieved. It has only been within the last year or so that certain advances in medical treatment have been made and I have had more access to information.  After being diagnosed with neuritis, bursitis, and a host of other 'itises', I was eventually sent to a pain clinic and diagnosed with Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome.  Reflex Sympathetic Atrophy was also considered.  Then I was told that there were two types of R.S.D. -- One that occurred without injury (Type I) and one that was injury-related (caused by repetitive motion injury) (Type II), and I had the second one-- These I discovered were all different names for variations of R.S.D.

In addition to my own illness, our family also suffered from many other illnesses or difficulties.  Sometimes, I had to be the caregiver for members of my family -- even while on crutches.  Later on, our difficulties got even more serious.  The Holy Spirit guided us and sustained us through some very serious incidences, including one of my daughters nearly dying in the Emergency Room during the year 2003.  We also helped a bulemic, suicidal young person from a local I.C. by eventually letting her live with us for a few months, which her therapist claimed saved her life! We are doing well now but it was definitely 'rough weather' for a long time.

We did very well throughout these long series of difficulties.  In fact, I would say that we did better emotionally and spiritually speaking, than at any other time when we have gone to an I.C. church.  I believe this is because we were not privy to certain judgmental pronouncements that often happen as a result of the misguided teachings that circulate churches in the United States. 

Tragically, admitting to a serious illness will provoke some people to conclude that God has been 'disciplining' you over something, or that you don't have enough 'faith' to be healed.  It is so sad that in today's religious world, any admission of difficulty can make you the target for what is totally outside of the 'law of Christ' (Gal. 6:2).   Bryan Hupperts discovered this and protested against it after his trials with illness in his April 20, 2004 edition of 'Sheeptrax' called, How to Build A Successful Anti-Church .

In some ways, being out of the 'limelight' during times of tribulation has served me well.  Isolation is a disadvantage when it comes to meeting people who may be kind or helpful.   However, at the same time, a certain measure of privacy and caution is also an advantage.  As I have just demonstrated with my open testimony about R.S.D., it is a distraction and sometimes even a danger to cope with the poor reactions from people as well as the difficulty of the trial itself.

It is said that suffering matures a Christian or prophet.  I know many who have suffered and have not spoken of the extent of their suffering, or perhaps not at all.  I have been one of those people.  I having survived --and eventually triumphed over, with the Lord's grace and help-- many severe difficulties spanning both my childhood and adult years.  Much of my silence in the past was so that my children could enjoy their healed mother without the constant shadow of an extremely harsh past.

As for R.S.D., it is deemed incurable by most doctors.  Nevertheless, I recovered my ability to walk and I am happy to report that I am highly functional now and pain free (Stage I or less) most of the time.  (Note: I would recommend Dr. H. Hooshmand's Pain Management Center RSD PUZZLE website for those who need education about this pain disorder.  This website helped me understand how my R.S.D. advanced because of exposure to cold during the winter.  (However, be aware that it can be a very difficult website for the sufferer of R.S.D. to read)

After learning about the potentially life-threatening effects of this illness,  I was stunned.  I am so very thankful for how much God has sustained me throughout all of this and spared me my life.  The extent of my recovery from this rare disease can truly be testified to as the grace of God.

Once I had recovered enough from R.S.D., I wrote,  "Apathy - The Final Death Blow"  and "Walking Out Of The Desert" .  These are,  in part, expressions of what the Lord taught me during periods of long-suffering like these.

I am sure we have all met people who practice shades of hostility with the fine-tuned skill of an expert marksmen, whether they realize it or not.  The religiously judgmental or callous of heart will attack over very minor things.  In my opinion, they are spiritually ill people who are in effect, looking for blood.  Human weakness or distress is seen by them as an unforgiveable spiritual problem that they are compelled to harshly rebuke you for.  However, they themselves will remain unaccountable and will receive no reproof.  Another common practice of the self-righteous is that they project their own faults or unresolved issues onto you (Matt. 7:3).  Then they will  mercilessly attack and/or abandon with no regard for the well-being of anyone around them.

I am sure that we have all experienced this 'ministry of death' from the religiously inspired.  If we are caught off-guard, we might not know what to make of it.  Remaining unawares without necessary support and knowledge is not an option, since no one can really avoid problems with religious spirits.  The times are evil and the Deceiver is active.

As for friends-- I will gladly take the people who can stand the thought of hanging around someone who has suffered or is suffering, rather than those who (ironically and anti-Biblically) either condemn people during suffering or as sometimes happens, distrust someone because they have suffered. 

I have known the blessing of true friends and I do not regret the loss of the unfaithful and the superficial.

In closing, I would like to say that my deep concern has always is the duplicity involved. People do hurt other people by their sudden reversals, lies or deception. 

For some years now I have witnessed a few popular preachers of the non-I.C. suddenly reverse their policies, teachings and practices to the utter dismay and astonishment to those who were just beginning to enjoy them.  We did not personally know these particular 'stars'  from their small beginnings of course, but I began to wonder about this. 

Was what my husband and I seeing in private, with these new folks just coming out of the I.C., just the beginning of a certain pattern?  Will they later, with all of their talent and charm, become popular or somewhat influential, and then suddenly reverse themselves too? - -publicly, and not just privately this time.  Will they have no commitment and no care for the people of God then, just like they did with smaller sets of people, individuals, or families? 


In fact, it is probably likely. 

In my experience over the years, generally people are either "users" or they are not.  They are empathetic or they are not.  The difference can be like night and day.   The worst of these hide their "private face" well,  while they seem eloquent, humble, gracious, or spiritual in the public forum.  This is what we saw in the I.C. and this may well be what we are seeing in the non-I.C., both on and off the internet. 

So,  I would like to say that I regret that at one time I rested in the thought I was less naive than others. I thought that I was relatively protected for a variety of reasons.  Of course, I did not believe for one second that my notification about  I.C. "error" originated from my own brainpower.  I knew the Lord told me about this ahead of time and I always said so.  But as usual, we are always a little unprepared for just how nasty or how astonishing it can get. 

However, regardless of my own personal vows to be humble and hopeful and careful all at once, I was  arrogant enough to overlook something very important, and the devil has been beating me up with it ever since.  I thought when the Lord said, "error" He meant primarily teachings or preachings, doctrinal positions, and things like that. That is what most of us usually think of when we hear that word.  But I needed to define this more broadly.

Now I realize that people who may not have any heart conversion at all, or have obviously held back a large enough part of themselves from the submission or care of the Lord.  I know that this happens everywhere, and so do you.  I just did not fully realize that those who seem to have made a commitment to leave the I.C. or 'spiritual Egypt", have not necessarily made such a commitment at all to any real degree.

I want it known that  following the Lord out of unhealthy religious dynamics that we hope to discard will be a very rough road at times - a purification, and also a time of great resistence from the enemy.  The poison of "Egypt" will be something we all will have to contend with in some fashion.  If we do not, it will overtake us. 

So, everyone will first have to examine themselves before the Lord to find out if anything is within you, and everyone will have to turn away from your own sin.  Check yourself for previous snake bites. Sucking out the poison with the Lord's help, is vitally important.  Check the bags you carry for idols.  The Lord's Spirit had me do this, and so should His Spirit have you do too. We must  change our behavior and underlying attitudes or belief system. 

Remember that we will have to contend with the fact that occasionally, other people are far more 'infected' then you would guess.  This can have a variety of serious consequences in your life if you get close to them, but God can sustain you and bring you out of it.

I know that this may not be a very profound thing to say,  but we will correct our 'group-think' by openly acknowledging this fact:  Some of the most obnoxious, double-minded, demonically influenced, rebellious (to the Lord), arrogant people are not in what many believe to be the spiritual 'Babylon' --the I.C.  They are right next to you, on the trail of discovery, proclaiming to leave 'spiritual Egypt'.  They are even offering you help, and sometimes presuming to teach you or others.  They may seem to have "all their ducks in a row" in many ways, but they treat the Lord's people very poorly, and seem to feel good about it too. 

The only reason they might not do as much damage as they would do in an I.C. situation is because their scope of power and influence is often less.  However, the very intimacy of the non-I.C. situation --especially if you happen to really want fellowship--  may give them another kind of power. This you must be aware of.

I don't want you to be paranoid though.  Do not give up! The times are evil and the devil is clever, but the Lord and His people have enough love to stick together without tearing each other apart. Be close to people who appreciate and value you.  This is what we have done. 

I would like to say again that we have experienced true brotherly kindness and love outside of the "I.C.".  Sometimes acts of kindness were inspired directly by the Lord, according to the people who did them.   Sometimes these people barely knew us or not at all.  Some people traveled long distances to visit us or stop by--because they said the Lord wanted them too.  This greatly helped with the loneliness.  At other times, people had no special instruction from God's Spirit and were just nice people.   The "People I Would Like To Thank" portion were those who were kind to me or my family at some point in regards to the last and most difficult trial we have had of all.  Yet there were others who were kind at other times.

In all things we must keep our focus on Jesus, though the devil should throw a great deal at us.  We must take appropriate action in any way you know how to, and tenaciously wait upon the Lord for His grace.  The "road less traveled" (inside or outside the "I.C.) has rewards that are not always immediately apparent. 

You see, many become convinced that they will not become spiritual abusers if they have no great following, or if they charge no money, or other factors.  Yet people are who they are regardless of how carefully you relate to them, or how many people relate to them.  It is more a matter of opportunity than numbers.  The people who were "fair weather friends" and who were most unkind to me while knowing I was in physical pain, sadly considered themselves to have some sort of ministry in the non- I.C.!  One used to be a minister in the I.C.  I question if they are ready to have any ministry at all.

Cain and Abel were alone and no one saw it happen.  Only two brothers of the same parents, and one ended up dead.  Let's have enough respect for the Lord so that we are neither doing that, nor condoning such a thing in any way.  God always sees. He is not mocked.

Advise to 'Ministers'

My advise to ministers is this:  If you have been a minister or pastor in the I.C., please do not rush to ministry without healing and thorough self-examination.  Do not consider yourself a leader until you can be consistently kind and gracious to friend and family and acquaintances, both publicly and privately.  Until then, cease from your preachings toward others about how important it is to have a revelation of Christ or have Christ within.  Instead, openly admit your own weaknesses and get counseling or help for your own difficulties as needed.

If you have not previously been a minister or worker in the I.C. -- DO THE SAME.

Also, it is a good thing to sincerely say "I'm sorry," or "I was wrong."  In order to do this, you do not have to humiliate yourself in front of people who are obviously abusive or rageful.  However, you do have to practice the humility you expect --and even demand-- from others.  It is amazing to me how many pastors or  ex-pastors, or Christians in general, have never learned to say "I'm sorry."  This is even in the face of the sometimes many people who have protested their behavior.

People are indeed very different in their care and concern and in their interest to work things out.  Now that I have described enough of the behind-the-scenes rancor that can happen from those fresh out of 'Egypt', this ministry can go on to other things that the Lord has put upon our hearts.  The development of materials and the changes will take some time.

-Teri Lee Earl
written and re-edited, 2004 -2005

Blazing Trails Too
('initial' dissertations/ leaving IC)
Onward and Upward
(for the trouble spots afterwards)
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