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Home arrow The Off Shoots arrow John Lynn's 12/21/08 letter to the Board of CES/STFI
John Lynn's 12/21/08 letter to the Board of CES/STFI Print E-mail

December 21, 2008 (5% edited to remove a few non-essentials by JAL)

Dear John, Dan, Gary and Karen,

 

God bless you abundantly. I write with great love for you. It would be much easier for me to not write this letter, but I do so because I am committed both to you and to the ministry we all love, that which God birthed in my heart almost 22 years ago. I am also committed to standing up for God’s calling in my life to be a major spokesperson for Him. Were I not to do so, I would not be worth my salt. I believe it is best to crystallize my thoughts in writing now, and I ask you each to read and re-read this letter. I request that you set aside sufficient time with Elizabeth and me during the upcoming Board meeting to thoroughly discuss these matters.

I am grateful beyond words for what each of you has done for this ministry, and I have faithfully prayed for you each step of the way. Like you, I realize that no one else on earth is doing what we are doing, and I am speaking up because I think we can all do a better job for the Lord. We have a unique vehicle in the Body of Christ, but I think it needs a significant tune-up for us to achieve the “critical mass” that we know the Lord wants to bring to pass and take this ministry where he wants it to go. I believe we are on the verge of a major breakthrough, but I do not think it will happen unless we honestly address some vital issues that are still unresolved. I beseech each of you to hear me with a meek and prayerful heart, for my goal is our unity so that together we can push forward on the cutting edge of Christianity.


This past summer I rather briefly spoke with Dan at lunch one day about my desire to be re-integrated into the STF leadership nucleus to the degree that I served for so many years, and about my feeling that there were still unresolved issues among us. He said there was “some resistance” to my being back full time, and that if that didn’t happen that he would support me starting my own ministry. I said that had crossed my mind, but within a day or two afterward, I knew that would be my last resort, because I believe the repercussions would be very harmful to STF. I’m afraid that many people would be torn between supporting you or me, and I would hate to see that. Furthermore, it is vital to the health of this ministry that we are of one heart and one mind.


Pertinent to my decision to speak up is the fact that I have done it both ways, so to speak, and have seen the results of each. In 1987, I stood up and blew the whistle as loudly as I could to as many people as I could about what was going on in TWI, and look what happened: CES/STF! In 1996, when it became apparent that some of the leaders of The Living Word Fellowship (which we had started here in 1995) were going off track, I let the Graesers talk me into not bringing the issue to light in front of the whole church. Instead, it felt like we slunk off into the night, after which it took another year or more for others to come to the same conclusion and join us. I won’t do that again.


Very shortly after last January’s meeting with you, what happened there began to gnaw at Elizabeth and me. When we realized what had actually taken place, we were sorely disappointed, and extremely concerned for the ministry. Since then, we have been praying much, and, as per Galatians 6:1, soberly ruminating on when and how to address what we see happening, for the sake of the successful future that all of us earnestly desire. Obviously we have not been in a hurry, having been prayerfully pondering the whole matter, while of course putting our hearts into loving you and working with you as we have had opportunity.


Given that the Board meeting last January was the third or fourth time (the first ones being via letters to Gary and Karen in 2007) that we addressed some of these issues without resolution, we felt that the Lord wanted us to let things play out for a while. In light of what has transpired this year, we are glad we didn’t rush into anything, because the picture is clearer to us and we can better address it with you. We have purposely waited and prayed fervently for you to come to us, but that has not happened, so we feel that now is the time to voice our hearts, realizing that the annual Board meeting next month is about the only time during the year that we can see Gary and Karen in person with enough time to discuss these issues.


We began actually putting our thoughts in writing about three months ago, and have agonized over each word, longing to be as precise and godly as possible. Only four prayerfully selected people have read this letter, because prior to sending it to you we wanted to bounce it off of a few mature believers who love us all. And believe me, this whole time we have searched our own hearts as deeply as we know how, beseeching the Lord to help us act with pure motives. Our goal is to “provoke you to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24).


I must first bring up the sad fact that it was like pulling teeth to get you to meet with us last January to discuss what was clearly a grievous wrong to Elizabeth, and to me, by you (J,G,K) as members of the STF Board with Mark and Karen Anne (Dan, you were more peripherally involved for a while, but I will address you also in some sections of this letter. Otherwise, if the shoe fits, go ahead and wear it). It was very hurtful to us that you did not initiate such a meeting shortly after Elizabeth and I got back together in order to account for how badly you were deceived by the Graesers about Elizabeth and about what was going on in our marriage as a result of their assault on us, and how you so harmfully dealt with both of us, and her in particular.


As I’ve already said countless times, I wronged Elizabeth more than any of you (and I include myself in many of the “you” pronouns to follow), but that does not lessen what you did to her. You failed to assess the whole situation with any degree of spiritual awareness, and thus tore apart the life of a sister in Christ who you did not really even know (and still don’t), and who did absolutely nothing to deserve any such thing. Imagine how you would feel if you were severely judged by a group of people who hardly knew you and told, among other things, that you should have no public ministry or appearance for one year.


All Elizabeth did was stand up to KA (at the January, 2003 Board meeting) about her gossiping, and she thus became the target of a vicious and relentless attack that impugned her character and her motives. KA saw her as a threat, and at once began to discredit her and try to quench her spirit. Albeit unwittingly and with different motives than KA, you and I joined her in that assault, and, as a result, greatly embarrassed ourselves and the ministry we love. Is not Proverbs loaded with verses about the sin of calling the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent? Again, Elizabeth did absolutely nothing wrong to precipitate the attack on her.


I have pointed out how you too later experienced the wrath of the Graesers when you stood up against them, and I encouraged you to let that help you put yourselves in Elizabeth’s shoes as to what that was like for 15 months, incessantly, but I don’t see that you have done so. A few months ago, Dan again shared what happened to him when KA called and gave him her false prophecy. It stunned him so badly that John had to minister to him. Isn’t it amazing that Elizabeth managed to stand alone for more than four years against a relentless barrage of such curses and lies and still come through it sane, and even closer to the Lord? Only someone very whole and grounded in Christ could withstand such an onslaught, and still be reaching out to you.


When I came back to Elizabeth in February of 2007, all of you could have then realized how you too failed her, and begged her forgiveness like I did, but no one came forward on his own. It was only after I began addressing the matter with you all that John and Dan made any kind of effort to reach out to Elizabeth. In light of what has since ensued, I now wonder whether you (J & D) would have done anything at all had I not prompted you.

 

Let me first address you, dear brother John, my longtime fellow laborer in the Word, whom in many ways I hold in awe, and with whom I have enjoyed some of the most wonderful moments of my life. Given your major role in misreading Elizabeth’s heart and life and going along with her “sentencing,” your initial apology to her was absolutely pitiful, something like: “I’m sorry if [not that] I hurt you, but I’m not sure exactly what I did. Maybe you can tell me.” Put yourself in her shoes for a moment, and think how hollow that would sound to you, coming from someone who played a major role in ruining more than four years of your life, including your marriage.


To your credit, I do believe that in our subsequent get-togethers you were beginning to see Elizabeth’s heart and grasp the gravity of the Graesers’ demonic assault on her. That day in (I think) October, 2007 when you, Jen, Elizabeth and I sat on your back porch and you listened to Elizabeth tell about her life in Florida with the Graesers, I could see you beginning to grasp the reality of it all, and perhaps also beginning to see the quality of her heart. She definitely felt your increasing warmth and tenderness toward her, and was very blessed by that. And that is why it was so apparent to her/us when your attitude changed during (and since) the Board meeting of 1/08.


When I told you shortly thereafter that we did not believe Gary and Karen saw the reality of the whole situation, that they had not accounted whatsoever to us for their role in it, and that we wanted to sit down and see if we could come to a resolution, you told me you thought that was very important. I thus felt certain that you would initiate the meeting and that we would hear from you about getting together during the January Board meeting.


We heard nothing about that before the meeting, and I had to email and/or call a couple of times during your meeting about our doing something. When you finally called me back that Thursday morning, saying that you all could stop by “for 90 minutes,” I was shocked, and said something about that not being anywhere near enough time to discuss the issue. I was then appalled at your statement that that wasn’t what we were going to discuss, but rather other things concerning my future with STF that I had brought up. I felt stabbed in the back, John. Never in all our years together have I experienced you dealing with me so disingenuously. Instead of standing in the gap between us and the Theisens, you then told me I should call Gary directly, which I did, and that resulted in the meeting that finally happened that night at the Gallagher’s.


Later, while pondering what happened when we did meet, and Karen and Gary’s posture of heart regarding the matter, I came to the firm conclusion that in whatever had transpired previously at the Board meeting (and perhaps in the weeks leading up to it), they influenced you toward their skewed perspective of things far more than you influenced them toward the reality of the situation. I do not know what they said to you about Elizabeth and me, but given what happened, the only conclusion I could draw was that you do not grasp that reality, and/or that you did not stand up to them, and bailed out on us. For the record, Dan, you made no difference either.


When we did finally meet, things were once again twisted around so as to put the onus on Elizabeth and me. Our marrying too soon (in your opinion) and her occasionally angry behavior in protest to the egregious attack upon her once again became the focal points of the discussion rather than your clear culpability in believing lies (for 3+ months before the devilish prophecies were handed to us) and acting on them in such a way so as to wrongly judge Elizabeth and decimate her heart and life, as well as our marriage. It is inconceivable to us that you (G & K) cannot, or will not, see that or take any responsibility for so doing. Gary, it was Karen who responded to my letters of 2007, and she who did most of the talking at the Board meeting. Though your relative silence has left us feeling more opposition from Karen than from you, we assume that you stand where she stands.


Perhaps the low point of the evening for us was when you, Karen, were sidestepping something Elizabeth was saying, and you, John, spoke to Elizabeth in an exasperated and condescending tone, as if it were she who wasn’t getting it, and commended Karen for her patience. That was bizarre, and it felt like we were up against the same kind of dysfunctional good old boy network that Elizabeth battled for 15 months. Nonetheless, here we are now, wading in once again for the sake of what is right.


Karen, while you were attempting to justify your misreading Elizabeth so badly, you said you had no idea there was so much abuse going on in our marriage, and of course were referring to how Elizabeth treated me (which you heard about from me, and in a no doubt exaggerated and overblown way from KA). The truth is that I, along with all of you, abused her terribly, starting in January of 2003 when we all bought into KA’s lies. All Elizabeth did was righteously protest, albeit inappropriately on occasion, the monumental injustice perpetrated against her. As I have previously stated, she long ago accounted to me for that.


During our meeting, Karen, you indignantly expressed some degree of anger about how at Sierra’s wedding you had been “accosted” by three people who had read Elizabeth’s letter, recognized some of your role in what was done to her, and said something to you about it. It is very sad that you blew off those three people rather than take to heart what they, and most everyone else who read Elizabeth’s letter, clearly saw. Have you tried to imagine how Elizabeth felt when EVERYONE close to her accosted her for more than a year before then casting her aside and never once calling her in the ensuing three years? Can you imagine how she felt that not one person who was supposed to know the Word and love her stood up to (or even questioned) the lies and gossip coming from KA, lies that you readily bought into?


So far I don’t think either you or Gary has identified whatsoever with her horrific nightmare. One big reason I say that is because you sat there at the Gallagher’s and heard Elizabeth say, through her tears, that what happened to her at (y)our hands was WORSE THAN LOSING HER CHILDREN. And, let alone not taking the slightest bit of responsibility for your major role in wronging her, we have never once heard either you or Gary even say (nor have you yet) that you are sorry she was so traumatized.


Karen, you are a wonderful, loving mother. How do you think you would have felt holding the dead body of one of your precious children? Elizabeth has held two, and yet said that how she was treated by all of us hurt her more than that. How could you and Gary possibly hear that and not fall on your faces before the Lord? Have you even tried to imagine the absolute agony we both endured in mourning the loss of our love for one another for more than four years because no one but Elizabeth read the whole situation accurately? I tried in a few letters in 2007 to get you to see it, but you shifted the blame onto Elizabeth and me. You didn’t get it, and you still don’t.


For the record, it is ironic that everyone we can think of other than you all, including many of our most ardent STF supporters, thought that Elizabeth’s letter was loving, entreating, precise, trenchant, and very obviously right on. I wish you could hear all the superlatives we have heard about both the letter and its author. It is telling that you do not think likewise. Sure, her letter made you “look bad,” because she told the truth about how we all dealt with her, and it was bad, very bad. How twisted that you became indignant about Elizabeth making you look bad after you, et al, trashed her reputation before the CES community.


Like I, your trust in KA as a prophetess blinded you to the reality of the situation. You were grossly negligent in rubberstamping those demonic “prophecies” as being from God (John, I’m pretty sure you told Elizabeth that you had not even read them before they were given to her), and then taking nearly three months to answer Elizabeth’s questions about what they meant. Then, during the ensuing months, your (K) attitude toward Elizabeth was often angry and impatient as you tried to get her to see things according to our distorted perspective. How could you (K) possibly have written me in 2007 saying that you and Gary have no reason to apologize to her?


Let us remind you of some of what Elizabeth endured because of (y)our spiritual blindness, beginning six years ago: accusations, slander, and defamation of her character; betrayal, rejection, and isolation; being talked about endlessly behind her back; being branded before the Indianapolis faith community as one to be shunned; many “accountability” calls in which she was accused of lying, being out of touch with reality, trying to save face, etc.; repeated oppressive verbal and emotional assaults; being subjected to a kind of psychoanalysis and accused of having psychological problems; not being allowed to question; not being allowed to go places with me; indescribable stress that resulted in physical maladies such as digestive problems, loose bowels, fatigue, involuntary rushes of adrenalin, and anxiety to the point that she went to the hospital thinking she was having a heart attack; countless sleepless nights; and emotional torture. After fifteen months of that, she then suffered the embarrassment, pain, and loneliness of divorce, after which she was left for dead by us all. Because of your abject failure to sufficiently recognize and account for your roles in all of this, the repercussions continue to this day.


Karen and Gary, with all the love in my heart for you, I submit that your pride and stubbornness, your refusal to admit that you were badly deceived, and your being so out of touch with how you wronged your sister in Christ, is in the category of “sin in the camp” in our ministry leadership. I further submit that it is hindering God’s being able to do all He wants to do for our ministry. I assert that your posture of heart toward Elizabeth and me is “leaven” within the nucleus of our ministry. I believe KA sowed that leaven into your hearts, and that it is still there. It is clear that the same mentality that allowed us all to be so deceived still prevails, for you are still deceived.


You too, John, have yet to grasp the gravity of your role in all this, and while I cannot be sure to what extent Karen and Gary’s influence upon you has played into that, I have no doubt that it is a factor. Certainly you have exerted no influence on them toward helping them see where they went wrong. We cannot consider what happened to be a mere “bump in the road” and go on our way without appropriately grasping and rectifying our mistakes. In reality, what happened was catastrophic to our ministry, and along the way we lost more than few fine people, including pillars like the Carlsons and the Stones. How can you all effectively lead God’s precious people if you cannot grasp the simple reality of your roles in this terrible situation and truly humble yourselves before God and one another?


You all failed to see things spiritually, and little has changed regarding your perceptions of Elizabeth and me. Rather than recognize what really happened and wildly rejoice when God brought us back together in an epic miracle proportionate to the incredible degree of the assault on us (How about: “OH MY GOD! LOOK WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE! WE WERE TOTALLY DECEIVED. LET’S ERASE THE SLATE AGAINST ELIZABETH [AND JOHN] AND WELCOME THEM BACK WITH OPEN ARMS”), you displayed little real joy about our re-marriage. And instead of considering that maybe you, the ones so badly deceived, should step back and/or take a break, you told us you’d have to wait and see how we do to determine if and when I could work for STF again. How sad that you thought God was speaking to Elizabeth through those prophecies, and now fail to see what He actually is doing, or trying to.


Dan, though you too failed to read the situation properly, you were the least involved in butchering (and I use that word because it aptly describes what happened) Elizabeth, and yet the one from whom we have felt the most empathy and sorrow. However, I see no evidence that you have grasped the reality of the situation and made a difference with the others in how they view Elizabeth and me to this day, nor in their exclusion of me from the leadership of this ministry. That makes me wonder whether you believe they wronged us, and also just how committed you are to my re-instatement as an integral part of STF. Frankly, actions speak louder than words, and it does not seem to me that you have fought very hard for the truth in this situation.


None of you really know Elizabeth, but (since childhood) she is most definitely a Perceiver (to use Dan’s word from his teaching at the Men’s Conference). She is a very savvy and spiritually attuned person, one who can discern what is happening in the midst of what is happening (as she did in 2003/04), and one who easily picks up on attitudes people have, especially toward her. She definitely senses a shallow, obligatory attitude from you, Karen. Since we got back together, you have had a number of opportunities to really engage her in conversation, ask how she is doing, etc., but have yet to do so. She has felt some warmth from Jenivee, and some from Lori, but she can’t honestly say she feels that either of them has made much of an effort to get close to her since the Board meeting last January. We can’t help but wonder how much of what is obviously in your heart toward Elizabeth you have spoken to the Schoenheits and Gallaghers, and to what degree it has tainted their perspective or diluted their desire to befriend her. I hope I’m wrong, but I think it has been more than a little, and, if that is the case, is that not in the category of gossip?


In that vein, I spoke with my longtime friend [Name withheld] shortly before Thanksgiving, and he told me of his recent talk with you, John, about which he was generally blessed. He said he called you of his own volition, and he recounted to me parts of the conversation that he felt would foster healing all around. He said that when he asked you why I was not back on the Board, one of the two reasons you gave him was: “John is a package; we need to get to know Elizabeth better.” John, do you realize the demeaning and insulting implications of that comment? Given the reality that you folks have made virtually no attempt whatsoever to do what you said you need to do, get to know Elizabeth, that is absolute b.s. It was a cowardly copout, and it really made me angry.


Furthermore, it is still about something being wrong with Elizabeth, not you, just like it was for those 15 months before our divorce. It is about all of you wrongly finding Elizabeth guilty and her needing to prove her innocence, though you have done nothing to provide her with a forum to do so. The fact is that for nearly two years now Elizabeth has reached out within our faith community, but none of you has asked her to be much of a part of anything. Despite some perfunctory rhetoric to the contrary, what your actions are saying is that you do not want us in your lives or in the leadership nucleus of STF.


You all know 2 Corinthians 7:11, a clarion verse regarding how one knows if and when someone who wronged him really “gets” the degree to which he has sinned against him. None of you has come close to adequately exemplifying any of those six evidences of genuine repentance. To this day, nearly two years later, neither of you, Gary and Karen, has called us once (other than re: my brother’s death) to see how we are doing. Nor have you ever reached out to get to know Elizabeth, the woman you so grievously misjudged and maligned. Of course you want nothing to do with Elizabeth, because a connection with her forces you to face the reality of what you did to her. Sure you feel uneasy around her, because she reminds you of your sin, and you must pridefully stifle the guilt God is trying to get you to feel. Do you think your deafening silence makes us feel as if we have any value to you, or any place in your vision for the future of STF? The answer is No.


At the October 1 staff meeting, Dan, you rightly said, regarding a particular situation, that even if we blow it, God will make it right because our hearts are right. That is exactly my point here: I don’t believe your hearts are right before God in this most significant matter, and that is why I am speaking up. I believe that you all have your foot on the hose, that the future of our ministry is at stake, and that we need to make some major changes.


Given that our love for God is exemplified by how we treat people, the root question to be asked is why you all (and I) were so ripe for deception? What was in your hearts that you were susceptible to such an attack? Why did you so willingly fall into line with the Graesers as the elite counselors who had the right to so judge your sister in Christ and others, like the Carlsons and the Stones? Your actions toward Elizabeth and me do not show us that you have asked, or answered, those questions. I love each of you, and hold you in high esteem, but I assert that your pride, your self-righteousness, your arrogant refusal to recognize your own sin in this matter, and your lingering desire to save face shows that you are still open to such deception. I think the following verses are relevant:


Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. 14 Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.


And I pray that your hearts will be in accordance with the following:


Psalm 141:5 Let a righteous man strike me-- it is a kindness; let him rebuke me-- it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it.


My reaching out to you in this letter is about fostering the healing that is needed among us all. When there is genuine humility, relationships become intimate. When there is pride, relationships suffer, as ours have, and I miss the camaraderie we once had. It is only when we are convicted of sin in our own lives, ask forgiveness for it, and grasp what we have been forgiven for, that we can understand grace and extend it to others. Not recognizing the beam in our own eyes leaves us thinking of ourselves more highly than others, and thus judging them wrongly. This was certainly the Graesers’ pattern, and, given the fact that you have neither recognized your sin in this matter nor repented of it, I think it is still prevalent in our leadership nucleus. Please consider that you may be blinded to some of these things, and for that reason more people should be invited into the mix.


Ironically, it was Mark who prophesied at our wedding that our union would “cause a great shifting,” and it certainly has, by exposing their true colors and ridding the ministry of their leaven. To what extent it will cause more shifting at this juncture remains to be seen. It is very hard for me to conceive that your true colors are not what I have always thought them to be, and your response to this letter will prove me right or wrong.


In considering all that has taken place during the past six years since KA’s late January, 2003 phone call to me about Elizabeth’s supposed demons, and even before that in regard to how I believe the Graesers were trying to move me aside so Mark could be president, I believe there has been a systematic assault on me to silence my voice for the Lord. I will not allow that to happen any longer. I further assert that there has been an agenda of the enemy to destroy my credibility with you all, and that you have bought into it.


Proverbs 18:8 and 26:22 say that the words of a gossip go down into one’s innermost parts, and Proverbs 16:28 says that a gossip separates close friends. I believe that is exactly what has happened as a result of KA’s relentless and insidious gossip, because I certainly do not sense much closeness between us. The word “victim” means “a person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency; a person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of others, or by some impersonal agency.”


Of course Elizabeth and I were “victims” of the attack that came via the Graesers and Resners. So were you. The question is not whether she and I were victims, but whether we chose to relate to what happened in such a way that we denied our responsibility for how we acted in the midst of it all. We didn’t. Both of us have, to a fault, recognized and accounted for where we missed it, though Elizabeth’s only wrong was allowing herself to inappropriately express her anger toward me at times. Even with a broken heart at the loss of my precious wife, and then the loss of my close working relationship with you all, I continued to serve the ministry and reach out to God’s people around the world, doing so with no compensation for more than a year.


In my letter of Spring, 2007 about Elizabeth and me re-uniting, I wrote: “I abdicated my own spirituality, failed as a husband to protect Elizabeth, allowed myself to be blinded to the true quality of her life, believed terrible lies about her, and in August, 2004 foolishly divorced her under totally false pretences. Yes, I thought I was doing what was best for both of us, but I was very, very wrong.” So were you.


I’m a knucklehead like everyone else, but the enemy knows who I am in God’s sight, and the gifts and calling He has graciously given me. He knows that people are moved to godliness by my teachings and writings, and also by the personal concern I have for them and how I reach out to them. I realize that you cannot possibly know all that I do and how many people I stay in touch with and minister to, and I’m saying these things because I believe I should be working full time with STF as soon as possible, and at present you are the only ones with an official vote about that. Our supporters, however, should also have a say in the matter, and I am considering making that available to them, if necessary. If you do not think I should be back on the Board and work full time for STF, please let me know why, so I can convey that to our supporters in your own words.


In retrospect, I don’t believe I ever should have turned over the presidency to Mark. Had not the ensuing fiasco occurred, I never would have resigned from either the Board or the ministry, and Elizabeth and I would surely have been ministering all over the place these past six years. It was under false pretences that I resigned from the Board at the SLC in 2003 because of a prophetic dream that I took to mean that the enemy was infiltrating the Board via Elizabeth, as well as due to our marital turmoil, which I now see was caused by the lies about Elizabeth. I have discussed this with Dan because I am pretty sure it was he who had the dream, but I can’t remember it exactly. I do remember precisely that I didn’t want to be a liability to the Board because of my marital situation.


Then in January 2005 I resigned as an employee rather than have the Board fire me, but that too was under completely false pretences, in that the requirements wrongly laid upon me during the previous year (only one of which I didn’t do anyway—meet with the Board, because E & I had split up, and because Mark and Tom were elusive) were as a result of the lies about Elizabeth that we all believed. The whole situation was terribly twisted, but thus far it is not clear to me that you all really believe that.


Please hear me as I specifically address the big lie about me that was orchestrated by KA in the meeting in January, 2004 on the day after Elizabeth left for Florida, another meeting done without her, my wife, and behind her back. How would your wives feel about that? For seven hours, my past situations with women from 1996 to 2000 were, four to eight years after the fact, once again brought up and rubbed in my face, only to tee up the big lie that Elizabeth was simply another in the line of romantic gaffes by John. That is exactly how it was framed, and it was a well-crafted lie from the enemy.


The truth is that God graciously, and miraculously, brought Elizabeth into my life (and yours) because He could foresee the potential of our union (and to expose the Graesers, which she did—you and I just didn’t listen for four years), and we started off great, though we never really had a chance to become the dynamic duo we now are. The enemy made sure that you never got to know Elizabeth, and you still haven’t. Then, after an indescribably torturous four years from January, 2003 to January, 2007, God saw fit to re-unite us, and our lives are once again deeply touching people wherever we go. Why? Because they see how we love them, and because they are moved and inspired by the Word I teach and Elizabeth’s wonderful way of engaging them. She has a huge heart for God and His people, knows, and is zealous for, His Word, and complements me very well.


Just as I believe we were all sold a bill of goods about Elizabeth, so I believe that the Graesers subtly and systematically capitalized upon my romantic mistakes of 1996-2000 to sow into your hearts a perception of me as a liability rather than an asset to the ministry. I don’t think that you, Gary and Karen, have much respect for me, or confidence in me, nor have I experienced much affirmation at all from you in the past few years. I miss you and the wonderful relationship we once had.


And if I am to be honest, I definitely feel some of the same from you, John. I was deeply hurt at lunch last Spring when you so quickly brought up my romantic pursuits of 1998 and 2000 as reasons why I am now on the sidelines. I’m sorry that I forget the exact conversation, but it seemed that you used those as if they had some relevance to the present, which they do not. I also need to address what you (D & J) brought up shortly thereafter about what someone told you KA said about someone telling her that I had said bad things about her and Mark. It felt to me as I were already tried and convicted of doing something potentially harmful to the ministry, based only upon what we heard that KA said, and that secondhand. Given the many lies she has told, why wouldn’t you give me the benefit of the doubt?


John, Elizabeth was appalled by both the tone and content of a disparaging remark you made about me at the Spring Bible Study, within earshot of other people. She doesn’t remember it verbatim—something like my needing to get with the program—but it came to her remembrance as she read this letter. Given that you would say something like that to her, how can I help but wonder if you have made such remarks to others?


Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, and your comment, John, at the September 3 staff meeting, was also telling. You said, “Look at how much John did for 13 years, traveling, calling, and writing people constantly, and today they’re all on Greasespot.” Not wanting to say much in front of the staff, I gently offered, “They’re not all on Greasespot,” and Mike Patten said, “I’m one who isn’t.” Had your remark not been perhaps the most absurd thing I have ever heard you say in our 37-year relationship, and had I not known what I truly did accomplish, it would have hurt me more deeply. Giving you the benefit of the doubt that it didn’t come out how you meant it to, it still grieved me to think that your opinion of my contribution to this ministry has become so skewed. The truth is that the people I reached from 1987-2000 (and even since then) form the majority of our staff, Partners, Contributors, and are those who pay your salary.


Furthermore, even taking into consideration your situation with Sam, about which I’ve tried to be sensitive, the fact that I’ve tried unsuccessfully for months to get you to edit a few articles I’ve written makes me feel disrespected. Also, after I felt very inspired to write “The Way. It Was.” and the reaction I received (and still receive) was overwhelmingly positive, you and Dan decided we should not have it on the website, though, if I recall correctly, I had to find that out from Jeff. I finally wrote you and Dan in early September to ask why, and request that it be put back in order to be there as the sequel to my 1988 letter (which has touched literally hundreds and hundreds of people), and I have yet to receive a reply. What conclusion should I draw from that?


Another thing [Name withheld] said, John, was that when he told you that it was very bothersome to him that I am not in the forefront of STF leadership, you asked him: “Does John feel that way?” Paul said he told you that you’d need to ask me that, but John, come on, how out of touch with me can you be? Six years of my ministry being diminished? Being left out of the ministry leadership after doing nothing but eating, sleeping, and drinking it for 15+ years? Of course it is bothersome to me. Actually, it is heartbreaking, just as it would be to you, especially when it was so unnecessary.


It has now been more than FIVE YEARS since I have done a tape of the month. Why have I not been asked, at least in the last two years when I have several times expressed my desire to do one? Why have I not been more included in determining the direction of the ministry in these challenging times (with the unspoken implication that I will have little say in the future)? For example, why was I offered no say in the decision to purchase the Martinsville property? If your late November weekend was not a Board-only gathering, why was I not invited? And if anyone should be at a de-briefing of how, among other things, the Graesers distorted the prophetic, and where to go from here with it, it should be Elizabeth. She is the only one who saw through their machinations, and herself has a definite prophetic calling. I pray that one result of this letter will be just such a meeting, where you really hear what Elizabeth has to say, for I think it will help all of us see how we were so deceived. More about the Carlsons later, but they too should be there, for they also saw the Graesers’ true colors long before we did.


The above questions are ones that more than a few people have asked, and are asking, and which many more have no doubt wondered about. In regard to accountability, some see a double standard. They see “business as usual,” even after such a cataclysmic occurrence within our midst, with nothing having been said publicly to address what happened. They see the same four people who were so badly deceived making most all the decisions for the ministry. If you answer their questions with anything like what you (D) told [Name withheld] some months ago when she asked why I had not made a tape lately, I don’t think it will fly. I wish I had kept your email so I could show it to you, but really, it was such vacuous doubletalk and so lacking in substance that after she got it, she forwarded it to me and said she had absolutely no idea what you were saying. I covered for you by giving her some vague reply about God working things out.


Just from a business and efficiency point of view, it makes no sense not to use me to the max. How many other people have the abilities I have, and how many other people can do what I can do for the cause? I think you are squandering the resource that I am, and also squandering the resource that Elizabeth and I are together. God wants both of us to be a big part of this leadership equation, just as He did when He brought us together the first time, and when He brought us back together. Each of us should play on the team at the position where we excel.


I wonder how much thought or discussion you all have given to an STF plan for my financial future, given my contribution to the ministry. John, I’ve more than once heard you tearfully say how much you appreciate what I did to get you on full time salary. I think you are incomparable in the Bible, and for nearly 22 years I have vigorously and gleefully promoted you because I think you are awesome and I want you to flourish for the sake of the Body. I am no less deserving than you, and I believe that I should be recompensed in proportion to what I have done, and am still doing, for this ministry. Since I came back from my leave of absence eight years ago, when has the quality of my ministering to God’s people warranted me not to be a full time minister with STF?


At the Men’s Conference, Dan set forth our STF Core Values: Truth, Integrity, Courage, Liberty. Honestly, I don’t see those qualities in how you have dealt with Elizabeth and me. Those qualities certainly do not include posturing, posing, or pridefully circling the wagons and either twisting reality or lashing out to shame those who speak up in opposition to what they see as injustices. Although that is just what happened too often in recent years, I pray that is not how you respond to this letter.


As to where I think we should go from here, I think it is only right for you to publicly apologize to Elizabeth for terribly misreading the whole situation and wronging her, and us. I think a letter to the staff, as well as our Partners and Contributors who were with us prior to 2007, is appropriate. You need not inordinately excoriate the Graesers, and could perhaps even apologize to her without mentioning them, but I think you should at least consider generally telling the truth about their role in all this.


I think we also owe a huge apology to Dave and Sue Carlson, as well as to Don and Laura Stone, and we should invite them to meet with us so we can listen to what they have to say. We should sincerely do what we can to integrate them back into STF, if they will have any part of us. We allowed ourselves to be swayed by the Graesers’ agenda against them also, and sold them out big time. We fired Dave and Sue from functions in which their performance in no way justified such a termination, and none of the explanations you have given me have come close to convincing me otherwise. They were crushed by how we treated them, and the attitude I get from you about that is, “Oh well…” Many of our supporters have been wondering what the heck happened to Elizabeth and me, and to Dave and Sue (one of the only two teachers on our foundational class, which many people are hearing), and we must come clean with those involved with STF. To whatever degree that means the Graesers are exposed, so be it. If we do what is right in the eyes of the Lord, he will stand with us.


If I remember correctly, Karen, you said in 2001 that you would serve on the Board for one year and then step down. For whatever reasons, you have not followed through on that declaration, and I think the Board must now have new blood. It is not at all wise to have two of only four Board members be a married couple. For the reasons I’ve set forth in this letter, I believe you and Gary should now take yourselves off the Board, and that 3-5 new members should be added as quickly as possible. I pray that you, John and Dan, will each assess the posture of your heart in all of this, and be open to the Lord’s leading. We are at a critical juncture in our ministry, and I think that we need “a second opinion,” especially in regard to what people think about my being on the Board and on salary full time, doing teaching tapes and traveling extensively to teach the Word.


I would like to be re-instated on the Board right away so that I can begin to get back in the loop about every aspect of the ministry, as well as have a say in choosing the new Board members.


I would like you to enthusiastically endorse my traveling, teaching, writing, and serving the Lord however he leads. Given my 21-year commitment to this ministry, the talents I have, and my personal relationship with countless people on our mailing list, I would expect you to be telling me that you want me on staff working as much as possible as soon as possible, and that you will figure out how to pay me what is fair. I know that you have told some people that STF cannot afford to hire me full time, but why have you not at least done what I did for John and Mark, and tell our supporters that we need money to pay my salary? The right thing would be to include the fact that we all failed to see things clearly, and that I never should have had to resign.


I would like to know what is necessary for me to receive the ministerial allowance as an STF employee, and thus be able to maximize my income. Maybe I can do that while working the hours I am now being paid for, but if it requires more than 20 hours a week, then it is right to pay me for that if I can put in the time while doing my SAT prep business. Please understand that I really don’t care where money comes from; my point is that I don’t want to dilute my time and energy in ministry by having to think so much about earning an income.


I guess it is worth discussing whether at some point I should again be the president of STF. As you have said more than once, John, I never used the word “president’ in my 13 years in that function, so it’s not about my need to have the position. I’d rather just be a roving STF ambassador, and travel, teach, and write, but things went well when I was the “point man” and you had more time to do what only you can do in the Word. Now having Dan as CEO and Jeff as Office Manager would make it much easier than it used to be. But as I see it now, I’d need a big vote of confidence and a lot of support from whomever the Board is in order to take on that responsibility.


In light of our collective failure to resolve these issues when we met with all of you last year, we want some other members of the Body to be present this time (as per Matt. 18:15ff), to serve in whatever capacity is appropriate based upon how our discussion goes. After much prayer and deliberation, we think that Mike Patten, Greg Rogers, and Janet Speakes should be present, if they will consent to do so. We believe they are people who are totally invested in STF, and in whom you have confidence. Given that they also need sufficient time to process the gravity of this matter (and Greg to plan his work schedule that week), we are sending each of them a copy of this letter as we send it to you, giving their spouses permission to read it, and asking them to keep it confidential. Given Jeff’s immersion in the situation with the Graesers and his key role in the ministry, we are sending it to him too.


I pray that we can resolve this whole thing together, but if not, I think it is only fair to take it to the people and call for a referendum of our staff and our primary supporters. If you do not see your need to account for and repent of how you missed the mark, and enthusiastically welcome me back into a key leadership role, I will at least give our staff and some of our primary supporters the chance to decide whether or not they think you should. I’m not yet sure how much of this letter I will communicate to whom, but I will not compromise my conscience, and I will once again speak from my heart for the sake of the truth. Then we will see what the people think. The thought of exposing our precious brethren to yet another internal leadership crisis is most grievous to me, as I’m sure it is to you, but if I were one of them, heavily invested in this ministry, I would want to know what is going on and have the opportunity to speak into the situation.


Our goal is to work shoulder-to-shoulder and heart-to-heart with you, and we are herein doing our very best to reach your hearts. We know we can’t make you see things as we do, repent, think more highly of us, or want us to be more a part of your lives, so we pray, as we have been, that the spirit of God will work within you. We hope that you will not defensively try to pick apart this letter, but rather see, embrace, and be convicted by its overall heart and message. If you do choose the former, that would leave us wondering if there would be much point to talk in January, because whether or not you did wrong us is no longer up for discussion.


For several years (mid-2003 to late 2006) I lived with inordinate shame, partially blinded to who I am for God, but thanks to His amazing grace and mercy, and the godliness of my faithful wife, I know I’m now at the best place I’ve ever been, and the fruit of my life evidences that. I am thrilled about my future, and I have no doubt that the Lord will continue to open major doors of utterance for me and my precious partner, a woman of great spiritual depth and character. I desire that to be within the framework of STF, the ministry God birthed in my heart, and which I love. I love you too, very much, and I hope to discuss these matters with you shortly. We are eager to forgive you and embrace you with all our hearts.


Your brother in Christ,


John



Last Updated ( Saturday, 24 October 2009 )