Lee McCoy Shares His Thoughts
My name is Lee McCoy and I attend a church affiliated with the UPCI; however, I am not what I call an "organizationalist." It truly saddens me when I read letters that talk about spiritual abuse - and I can fully relate to their situation namely because my wife and I had a negative experience under the banner of the UPCI. This man came out of the Mennonite movement. Thankfully, the Lord brought healing to us and we both have a testimony to share.
It was a painful process to recover from - namely, because we didn't know which way was up, down, sideways for that matter. But, the Lord was there all the way through. Truth is, spiritual abuse happens in every denomination. So, from reading these letters written to this web site - many of these folks have 'ran to' another organization and feel safety there; however, they may still feel victimized and perhaps harbor bitterness in their heart. The Lord knows. I only pray that they find healing. What they may not be aware of is the same spirit they encountered at a UPC church will eventually rise up in their current setting.
Believe this or not, I thank the Lord for this horrible experience - it actually brought me closer to the Lord and gave me a greater understanding of the Word. You may be asking, "then why are you attending a UPCI church today?" The answer is simply, I have found a church that preaches Christ and him crucified. There are all the elements that make us "United Pentecostal;" but, our pastor doesn't preach them in a manner where we ever feel condemned, unworthy, or excessive hardship.
I guess it would be safe to say that we are balanced - challenged to change and confident we are loved. Our emphasis is only to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. I am sure one might think I am refering to the 'standards;' but, I am talking more about the inner-sanctification. Truth with a bad spirit, which seems prevalent in the organization, is simply wrong and certainly not Christ-like. Bad witness. Bad example. But, this does not mean that all folks attending UPC churches are evil. Not all gossip, tear down others, condemn, judge, hurt, etc.
Many letters written to this web site talk about their UPC 'so-called' friends never talking to them. I have often wondered why this is so. My conclusion: they probably don't understand your situation; they probably want to talk to you, but don't know where to begin. Also, the Bible talks about two cannot walk together unless they agree. This is true in any facet of life. In any organization, whether it is a little league baseball team, Pop Warner football team, or support group, you have to agree in order to achieve success. I guess what I am thinking here is you left them, they didn't leave you. You see the organization and the standards as bondage and abuse, while they view them as safety and liberty.
I know of many UPC churches that have throw out the idea of having any standards at all - and this dismays me primarily because they are letting in all kinds of worldliness. For so long the laity have been told 'you can't do this and that' - and suddenly, there are no rules, if you will; and they simply run amuck and falter in their walks with the Lord Jesus. They talk about being liberated. I don't know.
My personal experience has proven that 'standards' in a biblical perspective actually protect and help foster a structured Christian lifestyle. I've seen in these churches such disunity and disorganization that it almost seems that the Lord has left the building and they just haven't caught on yet. Please note I said 'biblical perspective.' I am not referring to teaching of standards that is a "high thing that exalts itself." Baptist, Assembly of God, Anabaptists, Nazarene, Church of God, etc., the vast majority of them have 'standards' - just not all of their members adhere to them.
It is true that some folks in the "church" have brought the standards up to a place that almost seems they are higher than the Lord himself. There are also people who, without free-thought or reason, do exactly what the pastor says, without understanding. This is simply missing the mark in my opinion regarding the whole 'standard issue;' and understanding of who the Lord is and the role of the pastor, teacher, evangelist, etc.
Obviously, the Lord framed us with an intellect, free-will, reason, thought, etc. for a purpose. I marvel at how foolishly some members of the UPC, and even other organizations, follow after their pastor - never examining whether or not he is following after Christ. I am sure someone would argue that "we are sheep for the slaughter." Well, this is one sheep that keeps his "eyes pealed" (an American expression for being alert.). In fact, my pastor encourages us to do so. I personally walk circumspectly and am constantly aware of my surroundings. I am not afraid because I know the Lord is with me.
I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul, "brethren, I would not have you ignorant...." And in this passage he warns the believer to be extra cautious. There are men who have "crept in unawares" and in my opinion - there are two works ongoing in "churchianity" today. I make up this word to set a distinction. I am sure you fully understand and agree that we are to submit to authority. Yet, I think the lack of understanding about submission, has made folks vulnerable to be attacked.
There is a work of God - which is true and perfect which will ultimately lead sinners to repentance and conversion - this also brings the "called-out" ones to pursue after their Saviour with all of their heart, mind, soul and strength. This is the work that brings the refreshing - because it brings people to a place of hearing (the other side of Is 28:11.) When there is a hunger for God or a need that He alone can meet - the Lord always satisfies. This work is ordained by God and He will be in the midst of this labour of love and will honor and sanctify it. This work, in my understanding, touches the throne of grace, where strength and mercy wait for men to call upon the precious name of Jesus.
The other work is merely a work of man in the name of the Lord. I am sure someone may attempt to take this phrase and push my precept toward the "traditional churches." Quite contrary - I am looking in my own "back yard." There are 'ministers' in the ministry who aren't called by God. There are men trying to fulfill a position in the church that they aren't equipped by God to do. There are even people whose whole purpose of attending the church is to bring mayhem and schisms, hurt and frustration. Perhaps that is a bizarre way of looking at it - but, this has been ongoing since the beginning of the Church. I believe this is why Paul wrote "know them that labour among you" and to "mark them" which aren't walking orderly. BUT, be reminded there are, in fact, ministers who are called by God and are full of the Holy Ghost and minister, edify, and feed the flock. Just because you ran into someone who wasn't so, doesn't mean the whole organization is bad. My kid had a bad teacher once; that didn't make all teachers bad.
I am reminded of the parable of the tares and wheat. The tares, which look, smell, and act like wheat; but fail to produce fruit in the time of season - they were always tares. Like the tare and wheat - there is a distinct difference between a child of light and a child of darkness - and I believe both are attending church at the same time and intermixed. But, I don't approve of people running around trying to determine who is a tare/wheat - light/darkness. It simply not their place and can actually cause them to miss out in the blessings of God. The whole purpose of assembling is to worship the Lord with our spirit and in truth. The whole purpose of preaching is to lift up the Lord Jesus - and let folks know that they have peace with God and that they can come into his presence without fear - a ministry of peace, joy and righteousness in the Holy Ghost. In my own walk, I don't have time to wonder why my brother has decided to wear short pants to church, or my sister next to me has make-up on. These matters are certainly trivial at best and if I get hung up on them - then my eyes aren't on the Lord Jesus and I am missing the mark.
I am reminded of a Youth Car Wash that our church had to raise money to purchase a new church van. It was a hot summer day and all of our kids arrived what I refer to as church casual - jean skirts, long pants, etc. Our pastor was standing there and a lady who was having her car washed walked over to our pastor and asked him if he was the pastor of the church. He replied positively. She started yelling at him saying "how can you impose such restrictions on these kids." He very quietly replied to her, "Ma'am, I do not impose anything on these children or anyone for that matter, except for myself." This was a true statement. Our pastor doesn't preach standards at all; but, his ministry is bringing people to the full measure of Christ and in return - the people themselves are dedicating and committing to a higher standard. Keeping things in perspective - the full measure of Christ makes one completely humble. The high-minded mighty Pentecostal who has mastered the art of "church-snobbery" has missed the mark and needs to examine the scriptures a bit further from Acts 2:38.
Many will bring up legalism and compare the UPC with the Pharisees. I personally find this amusing - The standards issue and it is an 'issue' to many - I've said the very same things in my walk; but, as I prayed and sought after the Lord over the course of 5 years external from solid UPC influence, I can comfortably say I now understand the 'how's and why's' (regarding standards) in my own life.
Truth is, when you get the inner man all cleaned up (this is a continual process) it will be reflected in the outer man. For some reason, I have the scripture about purging the unfruitful works of darkness coming to remembrance. As we present ourselves before the Lord - he will perform a work in each of our lives and that work will remain. But, I am afraid that many are not permitting the Lord to do his good and perfect work in their lives - yet they profess Christ.
The Bible instructs "that if any man nameth the name of Christ, let him depart from iniquity," if my memory doesn't fail me. I pray for them to prosper in God. We all need to make sure that we keep pressing along and pursuing after the Lord. The Lord will deal with each man as he sees fit. There is a song on the Christian radio at present that says "when your Spirit moves free may it find in me a heart that only beats to praise you." This is certainly my prayer for myself and my family. When we have this mindset, we will endeavor to keep the "unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
One thing that has always irritated me about my UPC brethren is their "on-again-off-again" approach to salvation. There are many in the organization who view God as this big 'meanie' that is just waiting to thump them over the head because they messed up. They clearly fail to understand what this covenant is all about - just like the worldly believer who thinks "God understands and accepts me just as I am." It is true that God has and always will call the church to a higher standard; but at the same time he wants us to simply come before him and lay down our lives.
The worldly believer remains worldly because he has no true desire to change from the lifestyle of sin. He likes the idea or concept of a dying Saviour on Calvary's Hill; but remains comfortable in his relationship with the world. In reality, he is attempting to serve two masters. Like the window shopper, the worldly believer will only become committed when salvation is "75 per cent off." I know - salvation is free "Let the Spirit and the Bride say, whosoever will, let him come..."
We often say that "sin's demands were met on Calvary's Hill." Truth and grace were brought by Jesus Christ. My question is, does 'grace' have a demand? I believe it does... "Not willing that any should perish, but, that all men come to repentance." We can change our behaviour; but, only God can change our heart. The motivating factor here is how the believer is approaching the presence of God - with reverence or haphazardly? God does in fact accept the sinner; but will not embrace someone who is resisting his mighty hand. He offers each of us plenty of opportunities and reasons to "make it right." Repentance is a daily thing in the life of the believer.
The whole "God is Love" doctrine taught in most churches has been derived by the slight and cunning craftiness of men. Oh, don't get me wrong, I am not refuting that God is love - I just know that he is also a God of wrath, etc.; and I recognize that He is holy and absolutely hates sin. Paul wrote in Hebrews, "how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation." Many simply do not fear the Lord and believe that He accepts them cart blanche. They are neglecting this precious salvation.
Salvation is a matter of the heart. I want to know him in the power of his resurrection. David made a lot of mistakes; but, he was considered a man after God's own heart. Why? Because David realized that he needed the Lord and always returned to him in repentance. God's grace reaches to where we stand - today. We just have to call upon him and He'll be there right on time.
On the other hand, the peer pressure is so great in many Pentecostal churches, that when people make mistakes, they feel so condemned and ruined; and if they are listening to the voice of the enemy long enough, they begin to feel a sense of hopelessness. They don't understand that there is nothing new under the sun and the very same sin that they are feeling compuncture over - others in the church have experienced the same thing. They don't understand that the Lord is actually on their side and is rich in mercy.
The Lord can and is willing to deliver us out of every sin, snare, and situation we face. Sadly, I have witnessed some folks act inappropriately (within the UPC and without) towards the believer who needed restoration and drove them out of the sanctuary by their rudeness and judging. The true believer, who is spiritual, will minister to those in need. They are the true sons of oil. I recognize that if the Lord would name iniquity, none of us would be able to stand. I am not saying that we should embrace sin; but if a person has repented, who are we to touch God's anointed?
There are cases where folks do not repent and refuse to submit to the authority of a God ordained ministry. In this case, they ought to be subject to "church discipline." Please note that I said "God ordained." This thought may not be popular in "Pop Culture Christianity;" but I will not bow in this arena. God gave the church the Holy Ghost that every man may profit withal; and many are teaching that we don't need a pastor, etc. The Bible does not support this teaching.
The five-fold ministry was given to edify the church. To refuse this authority is to refuse God's plan because we are to be accountable. I thank the Lord for a pastor who loves and supports me and wants only the best for me in the kingdom of God. If you have that in your life, regardless of the organization, then you are blessed beyond measure. There is safety in wise counsel. This is not a grievous matter.
Well, I have written close to a short novel here. I hope I didn't take up much of your time and that my correspondence is mutually rewarding. I trust that the Lord will deal bountifully with you and that you may prosper in God.
Posted August 26, 2002
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August 23, 1997
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