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Author Topic: Exchanging Beauty for Ashes  (Read 739 times)
Janet Easson Martin
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« on: January 29, 2016, 01:16:23 pm »


I remember how beautiful I felt in God's eyes when first believing.  I recall how confident I was that God was very much interested in me and longed to hear my prayers.  The glory of Christ he saw in me, and the attention I believed he paid to my prayers. How even problems became an opportunity for God to work as I claimed his goodness and waited in expectation. How much of his majesty and compassion and power I saw by faith.  Truly enjoying gazing at his beautiful characteristics, and the beauty inside he had given me (in pardoning, cleansing and sanctifying me) to be without fault before him.

"You are altogether beautiful my darling,
and there is NO blemish in you."

How his perfection was shared with me by making me righteous (eternally right with God). It was a place of enthrallment. I was enthralled with him and he with me. I felt so adored, cherished, and treasured.    His love for me spilled over to others around me.  It could not be contained.

Though I still experienced difficulties in circumstances, relationships, and in weaknesses, I would soon bounce back because I was confident God's view and value of me had NOT CHANGED.  The steadiness of his affection toward me left me naturally seeking him for help in those hardships.

The introduction of my Savior came by a believer in a GCx church.  The fellowship of The Spirit was enjoyed with other believers in GCx.  But, as I began to be "discipled" into the GCx organization, I was definitely manipulated and even shamed into making unhealthy choices.  (I say this because healthy churches I attended later did not audaciously impose or falsely threaten me on such personal decisions.)  I felt shame and self-doubt creep into my soul through the critical sizing up (labeled often as "spiritual reproofs") I encountered.

I must share here the pettiness of their "reproofs".  People were corrected for praying out loud without enough enthusiasm (I mean like a God-given monotone voice); for wearing nice clothes; for having too many clothes; for helping family financially; for spending too much time with those not belonging to the church; for not continually bringing and adding multiple 'disciplees' to the church; for disagreeing even quietly with anyone in leadership; for giving to impoverished people in the church (while being already overly generous with the church tithe); for not serving the GCx church enough; for visiting non-GCx churches. Not to mention all the arrogant assumption and accusation of many other actions and motives. You felt as if you were being constantly evaluated and judged, and even being assigned a level of value.

The criticisms and judging caused me to doubt my love and dedication toward God.  There was as a "proper GCx pattern to show love for God" which was fervently and regularly instructed and dictated to us.  My dedication as a believer along with other members was CONSTANTLY CHALLENGED, accused, and even berated through its teachings.

It actually seemed a grey darkness began to cloud the light and hope of Christ in my little life.  The once close space between God and myself was vastly increasing.  I felt much less confident in approaching Him.  My  value and worth in God's eyes seemed to decrease drastically.  I had to do all these new requirements to be really holy in his eyes. Without realizing it, the God I used to know faded away, and a "new one" took his place.  Though The Holy Spirit had tried to warn me through scripture, I was rather blind and deaf to Him by then.  So I did not understand that I was being led astray from my Savior. That I was in a harmful culture feeding on ashes, under false teaching, and had started running after another god, an idol really.

Isaiah 44:20 explains it well:

"He feeds on ashes, a deceived heart has turned him aside"

Thinking "the change in God's view of me" was my fault, that I must not be doing enough to please him.  I began to be very hard on myself which is what I was taught to do through GCx teachings.  I served more, I gave more, I prayed longer. But I did so in vain because I was actually serving the leaders and the organization. I was taught and reminded often that the GCx elders were God's representative to me.  After all, their counsel was equated with getting God's approval.  So, if I wasn't valuable enough in their eyes, I concluded I probably wasn't in God's either.  Nearly all who write on here have explained this "substitution for God in their lives" in all kinds of actual experiences with GCx.  

I have written in other posts on here how God warned me in His Word of the danger present in GCx.  If I were to summarize what he was telling me, it would be that I was doing well until they cut in on His sacred place.  That my trying to appease Him by certain "sacrifices" was not accomplishing anything. That only believing His love for me and trusting his divine promises would cause me to grow in faith.  That a person or people were actually bewitching me into this "spiritual" replacement for the real Jesus.  But, I didn't rely on these Holy whispers from His Word because I had lost my confidence and now viewed my spiritual life more as ashes (for failure to do enough) than beauty.  

It was years after those  initial and continual warnings that I finally left GCx. Immediately after I left I felt as if I were being loved by God afresh again.  I had started reading good books with marvelous sound teaching on grace.  At the time, it was "The Grace Awakening" by Chuck Swindoll.  I have since found much encouragement and strength as I feed on the beauty he has freely given me in the grace of our real Redeemer.


« Last Edit: March 10, 2016, 08:38:57 am by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
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