“Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”

Job 7:11

I had a revelation the other day.

It brought a sweet sense of comfort from the Lord, and gave me freedom in an area that had been troubling me for some time.

It’s never good to feel condemned, or to feel accused of falling short of God’s best. It’s just not what Jesus intended for us. After all, the devil is the accuser of the brethren. I have to say, though, that the accusations that hurt the most come from brothers and sisters in the Lord.

A curious thing happens when a Christian – at least one in local evangelical circles – decides to start thinking for himself and questions the church authority he has submitted to for some time. He may suffer accusation, slander and gossip – even shunning – especially if he decides to confront issues in the church that he disagrees with. And if those are long-held doctrinal beliefs, then there’s usually hell to pay.

But aren’t we supposed to question what we believe?

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

I John 4:1

Stupid me – I’m afraid that’s what I did when I decided to question certain doctrines and other matters I felt were creeping into my church.

I am not going to rehash all those details here, because that would be pointless, and hurtful to many people. But I do want to stress how hurtful it has been to me, to be told: “Now brother, don’t be bitter” or “Guard against that bitter spirit” or  “I can see that you’re bitter about what’s happened.”

Every time I heard something like this, I checked my heart to see if I was holding any unresolved bitterness and sin. And that was part of the problem – I equated bitterness with sin, and it always brought condemnation along with it.

I just didn’t feel “clean” being bitter.

But I had a revelation the other day.

God spoke to me clearly, to let me know that the bitterness I’ve tasted is the same as if I’d unknowingly eaten something bitter, or had been forced to drink poison, or experienced something that pierced my heart like an arrow.

I’m not trying to sound like a victim here – I just want to convey the sense of freedom I experienced when I realized that the bitter taste in my spirit – in my soul – was not from anything I did. It was not sinful. It was not dirty.

The bitterness I felt was due to the heartache of a very painful experience – and the fact that this was not the first time, but the second that a local church’s authoritarianism had crushed my dreams and vision.

Of course, others won’t see it this way, and may even comment here about how wonderful their church is. That’s great. I’m just talking about my experience.

The truth is, though, I’m not alone.

I know many people who have suffered painfully in similar – and worse – fashion. Many have never returned to church – even after many years – and to this day people ask, “What happened to the old you?” or “When are you coming back to church?”

Most folks are well-meaning, but they’re asking the wrong questions. They’re not opening their ears and hearts to the cries of those who hurt and asking them what they’ve experienced.

If you want to understand what’s going on with someone who’s “bitter,” try asking “Can you tell me how you hurt?”

But don’t do this unless you’re truly prepared to listen to the answer, and see the truth through the eyes of the one who’s hurt.

Because if you’re only going to argue with what you’re hearing; if you’re only going to argue in defense of your church and your pastor, then you may as well not ask. When you open that door and ask your friend to share their hurts and pain with you, and then you choose to ignore what they tell you because it may rock the foundations of what you’ve believed your entire life, then don’t even ask!

I can tell you personally, that it’s been too painful when I’ve shared my bitterness with “friends” who asked me to, then had those people ignore me to this day – almost two years later. This has happened on several occasions, and I have to tell you – it’s grievous. It has left a bitter taste in my spirit.

And it left a sense that I was in sin, because that’s what I had been told so many times.

But I am not in sin.

My bitterness comes from a righteous anger that wells up inside of me because I believe the Body of Christ is supposed to act like Jesus on earth. But when I see injustice, arrogance, self-righteousness and pride in the church – especially within the leadership – I tend to speak up. But that has only brought me separation – separation from people, dreams, vision and goals I’ve worked toward for more than 33 years. And that can be a bitter thing.

But I am clean, and so are you if you are not being hateful toward those who have hurt you. Your bitterness then is not a sin. Be free.

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.”

Eph. 4:26


Posted on September 25, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Wow….right on Mike…

  2. To Mike McC:

    Peace also to you in the name of the God of Abraham.

    I don’t know if I can agree with your assessment that the “No. 1 function of the church is to bring the lost to Jesus”. The ‘assembling of the brethren’ is for the edification of the Body, where the Holy Spirit can freely minister through whomever and as many as He wills to whomever He wills. The number 1 function of the ‘church’ is for the “WHOLE” body to gather together with some bringing a Hymn, some a SONG etc…

    I would also like to comment on your Number 2: ‘help one another’ in working out our salvation’. Let’s be clear here, the scripture is that we are to “work out our OWN salvation”. If we are called to work out our OWN, why would we want or desire to have anyone help us. This is the CORE of the problem, WE DON’T WANT TO DO ANYTHING OURSELVES AND BY DOING THAT WE SHOW A LACK OF TRUST IN GOD HIMSELF. Which translates into a lack of faith. So, if this is the premise then these are not the ‘church’ at all. Maybe a spoiled group of people meeting together in a building weekly looking at and studying a book that they really don’t pay attention to and make up the rules as they go along.

    It’s obvious that most of the “chosen ones of North America” have not a clue what is scriptural and what is not, especially in the case of the ‘meeting’. For instance, the scripture tells us “When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation.”

    Instead we have PASTORS, paid ‘employees’ of the “non-profit corporation” Speaking, Teaching, bringing revelation and interpretation. This way no one has to do anything other than sit in the seats and suck it all up…… no involvement by the assembly at all. Just the ONE.

    Which brings me to another point,…. NO, I’m not going to go any further.

    Mike, I agree with you that this group is sick and needs healing, the only problem is they don’t know they are sick and if you try to explain it to them, they chastise and demonize.
    Finally, “this includes being at peace with one another ‘even when there is disagreement”
    I cannot disagree with you more on this one point. How can I be at peace with someone who is telling kids to cast off ‘college’ because Jesus is coming back soon, so it’s just a waste of time? How can I find peace with people who believe that you can make an appointment with a ‘prophet’, sit in a room with a tape recorder and record a ‘personal prophecy’ directly from God ?
    How can I be at peace with people who teach that if you have enough faith you can be HEALTHY, WEALTHY and WISE ? How can I be at peace with people who demonize my brothers and sisters who are Muslim?

    How can I be at peace with people who claim to be one thing but act and speak the complete opposite?

    I found peace by leaving that whole ‘sub-culture’. I am not a christian because it conjures up thoughts in people’s minds that are hurtful and distasteful.

    I am Salt
    I am Light
    I am a Friend to the friendless
    I am a Father to the Fatherless
    I am a servant to the less fortunate

    I hope and pray that more people would break free from the shackles that the American church has put on them and walk as Christ wants them to.

    Our life should lead people to Christ, not the “3 Questions”, not the Roman Road, not the ‘church’. We are all called to lead them to Jesus, too bad we have replaced Him with the ‘church’.

    God help us all !

  3. When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, he brought Salvation of Spirit, Soul and Body to those who receive Him as Their Savior. This salvation also includes total ‘Healing’ of spirit, Soul (mind) and Body. It is a challenge to receive and walk in His Salvation on a daily basis because of the ‘Fallen World’ we live in. Thus I quote Paul when he admonishes us to work out our Salvation on a daily basis. Notice he says ‘Work’ as in it will take some work on our part to do that which is Right in His Sight!

    Also…. a word of ‘Wisdom concerning ‘The American Church’ (the Chosen Ones of North America)…… For the Lord sees this church as he sees spoiled children …. the ‘Gospel’ preached is a selfish gospel to satisfy my needs and always given for Me, Me, Me…. True, the gospel is written for Oneself in mind, yet when one matures in Christ, we are to learn to meet the needs of others and not just always looking to our own needs !!!! …We are all part of the ‘Body of Christ’……. Remember!! The No. 1 function of the church is to bring the ‘Lost’ to Jesus and No. 2 is to ‘Help One Another’ in “Working out Our Salvation DAILY”!!!! (this includes being at peace with one another ‘even when there is disagreement!’ ………….. Shalom

  4. Accolades abound, but few real comments, opinions and deep feelings…. Hmmmm…. what does all of this mean ?

    Wheres the passion ?

  5. Hey Dennis!
    Thank you for the new article from Mission Critical.
    You are an amazing writer and you always share straight from the heart.
    God Bless You

  6. just commenting on a previous comment – like what’s a “healing spirit?” not nitpicking, I just like to question all christian lingo.

  7. Well said Dennis.
    It’s very clear to me that you have found peace in your pain. I too believe that there is no sin in dissenting or questioning. In fact I believe that it is our duty to question authority when we feel that there has been any misuse of power or if there is any deviation from the path or vision laid out before us.

    I have found a sense of compassion that I never had prior to leaving the ‘movement’. Since leaving I have met so many people who are living with a real distorted view of God Himself due to the hurt inflicted upon them by the ‘movement’ or leaders in the ‘movement’. It’s sad to say, but I have experienced it in my own family. So many years of relationships ‘in the club’ and once you don’t agree with ‘them’ exactly, you’re forgotten, written off or demonized.

    The biggest issue is that the hurts don’t heal and the pain continues for years and years, causing one to lose faith completely.

    Someone once said that ‘freedom is not free, it comes with a cost’. I agree with that statement wholeheartedly. There has been personal and emotional cost in my life, my wife’s life and in the lives of my children. But with that cost came wisdom, wisdom to not just blindly follow a group or a person. Wisdom to seek ONLY the TRUTH.

    I would like to end with this:
    My wife and I joined together in a prayer one evening. It was a simple prayer that went something like this: “God, radically change us and have us do what YOU want us to do, nothing else. Just your will for our lives.”

    We received this prayer in our lives. He did radically change us, into the loving parents of an orphan who had no one to love her. He gave my daughters a new sister to love and to care for. He plucked us OUT of the ‘movement’ and set us in the place that He would have us to be. A place of humility and awe at His glorious love for the hurting and wounded and lost.

    “God grant us the serenity to accept the things that we cannot change
    Courage to change the things we can
    And the wisdom to know the difference.”


  8. I love you Dennis
    and i pray for a healing spirit in the Body Of Christ and to you and your family !!
    God Bless in Jesus name !!

  9. Having experienced being hurt myself I know the brokenness it can cause to ones spirit. In hindsight without this experience I would of never understood those who when before, nor would I have created a listening ear now….indeed it has humbled me as a Christian.

  10. Thank you Dennis. Well said.

  11. Thanks, Dennis. Much needed, well written and an encouragement to many.

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