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"Secrets of the Vine"

Watered Garden

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I have been trying post on this thread for an hour, however, my 14 year old labrador retriever barks every 2-5 minutes to have her rear end picked up so she can go to another room, and she barks until I come do it for her. Thus, no concentration, no viable posts.

I did want to comment on the last line of Belle's quote from the Blue Letter Bible commentaries: "for to judge ourselves is our sin."

That is exactly what this guy tells people to do on page 40 of this workbook. Judge ourselves is the only way we can avoid the discipline of God. Otherwise, he will scourge us, smite us, whatever.

This is making me madder and madder. But I need Scripture references like the ones y'all have been giving me so I can be clear and clean (and a little bit mean) in Sunday School.




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I heard a song not too long ago by a guy named James Harmon.

The song was called Piecework Politicians.

"We need piecework politicians

Working strictly on commission.-------"

I like the song a lot so please don't misunderstand me, but maybe I should write a song and call it "Piecework Christians".

When you work in a factory, the more pieces of product(fruit) you produce, the more pay you will earn.

It can be a good concept, really,( if you don't try to extend it beyond the factory and into spiritual matters.)

When my Mom used to teach twigs, she used to say that "God loves you for who you are, right here and now, not for what you could be sometime in the future and in spite of what you've done in the past."

I guess you could find a scripture to support that statement if you wanted to.

I don't personally feel the need to.

Edited by waysider
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Waysider, that puts me in mind of a guest teacher our first year in FLO, might have been Doug Emerson, but maybe someone else, who said that after we are saved and learn to love God, we do good works because "we are made that way." We are a new creation in Christ. Our very nature is changes as we learn more and more about God. We don't need God's heavenly cudgel, we need to love God and be loved in return.

It kind of seems like this Wilkinson guy takes a very dim view of Christians.

On a slight rabbit trail, we went to a meeting for small group leadership training last night. The pitifully young associate pastor mentioned at one point that he and the senior pastor were the only Biblically trained people there. Mr. Garden was sitting right next to me, and it was all I could do not to bust out laughing, and say something like "Yeah, but have you ever gotten up at 5:00 AM, run with the cows, and come back to a tasty bowl of freshly prepared wheat berries?"

Mr. Garden and I led "small groups" for nearly twenty years. And he probably knows at least as much Bible as the associate pastor.

They have NO idea!


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Well, against my better judgement, I went back to Sunday school yesterday. Dr. Wilkinson, among other things that royally ticked me off, states that "One of the greatest mistakes churches make today is to teach that Satan gives people sickness. Satan doesn't give people sickness, God does!" He went on to say that sickness and disease is one method God uses to discipline the believer who is not bearing fruit. God may also discipline His miscreant child with premature death. He used some really strange interpretation of I Corinthians 11 for part of his reasoning.

He has a nasty habit of bragging about looking up the Greek, but never telling what it is. He says there is a passage in Ezekiel that proves there are different degrees of sin, and that God punishes different degrees of sin with appropriate degrees of discipline. I haven't checked that one out yet. He didn't bother with chapter and verse.

He also says that we should do good works because we are motivated by FEAR of God's discipline. I stood right up and said that fear is a lousy way to discipline; it never worked with my son, and it doesn't work with me. (Thanks Krysllis!)

A lot of people were upset, but not as vocal as I was. One woman talked about Betty Rollins's book about her fight with breast cancer, and how much stronger she is now that she has overcome the disease, and while she wouldn't wish it on anyone, she is very thankful she had breast cancer because now she is a stronger person. "That which doesn't kill me, makes me stronger."


This time my husband is equally unhappy and e-mailed our pastor with questions, mostly about this matter of God giving people sickness and disease, killing them, and the discrepancy between what the eminent doctor is teaching and what is obviously the context of I Cor 11, i.e. communion. He thinks our pastor is great; he does know him a lot better than I do, but if this church puts its foot down, it is going to break my heart because I do love the people there.

We are not having a video next week but continuing our discussion of this one.

What amazes me, and it shouldn't, is that people are hearing this guy and swallowing it hook, line and sinker. Even as devout a Waybot as I was, I never believed the "all the women in the kingdom belonged to the king' teaching, along with some others, and I sure as heck never believed much of the present spewth from LCM. One very nice man was amazed, because he had always been taught sin is sin, period.

On the other hand, I have spent over 30 years of my life loving God and trying learn to serve Him. If in fact God saw fit to smite me with insulin dependent diabetes at a time in my life when I was struggling with some things and trying to discern His will in a matter, then He is a much worse father then my earthly father was. He would have hugged me and tried to help me out, not smote me with a disease that is ultimately terminal.

If anyone has some good suggestions of verses that contradict what this nasty (but very rich) person is teaching, please let me know. If I go back, I want to be well armed with the truth!

And also please pray for my strength and wisdom. I don't want to be swayed by this booger, but I cry a lot.



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This is precisely what I believe my value is when I go to my church. Having been a cult-head, I can recognize thinking that is just plain wrong. I KNOW that when I see that glassy-eyed look fall on people as they take in BS, that I have to say something.

Keep at it. Someone will hear you. Remember though, that this idea of God sending sickness is very old and very well received.

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You got it, Dooj! As much as it hurts me and scares me, I can't just walk away. I was very choked up as I spoke at times, but I was very honest. The weird thing is, the church doesn't teach this at all, and one of the more prominent individuals and I have had conversations regarding a close relative of this person who died a few years back, and how upsetting it was when this good, good, Christian man was dying that people from his church where he had gone for years and years, came and asked him what sin he had committed to cause God to give him cancer! This person is just as incensed as I am, but unfortunately not taking the class!

One thing I intend to bring up next week, is that this man is just a man, nuthin' special except he's got some fame and money. (He sure as heck ain't no Billy Graham, I'll tell ya that right now!) And opinions are opinions, nothing more. I just hate it when people blame God for all kinds of junk that He had nothing to do with!

And honestly, he is not nearly as riveting or charismatic as VPW, just more full of organic fertilizer. So I don't get what people see in him. But some people who are in the class are talking as if Jesus Himself is divulging great secrets, not some guy who wants to make more money selling books and tapes. (that's my private interpretation of this man's ultimate motivation).

Come to think of it, wasn't there some discussion going on in the About The Way forum about "gimmicks", unique teachings people dream up to sell class and tapes? Interesting.


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Washington Weather,

I think most of the people in the class are just as dumfounded as I am. I don't think there is much wholehearted agreement with the concept that God makes you sick or kills you, but they don't much know what to do. The pastor wants to have another class next Sunday with no video just to discuss this, and says that there is a lot of bad teaching out there. I have NEVER heard him pray for someone to get healed "if it be thy will" or teach that God brings calamity on His children, or anything like that.

Bless Mr. Garden's heart, he did point out that the section in I Cor 11 refers to communion and quoated II Peter (by His stripes ye were healed). Someone I really respect pointed out that things like my diabetes happen and you can grow not because of it but in spite of it. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I am much much much less sure of my relationship to God now than I was before I was diabetic, or that I was "getting there" before this stupid class started up.

Mr. Garden did e-mail the pastor with some questions and ask to meet with him to discuss his questions. They seem to be great friends. I have an extremely difficult time trusting anyone in a remotely leadership position, thanks to our mutual friends in Washington State and a couple other folks who were out there when we were.

I told them I am deeply offended that anyone would suggest that God causes sickness and premature death to his saints to "discipline" them. I am a better parent than that, and I am not all that great of a parent.

The section in Ezekiel that his eminence says proves there are different degrees of sin is Ezekiel 9. I haven't looked at it much, except that LCM used it to teach about evil spirits and I have some really weird notes in the margin of my Oxford. It is a vision. One chapter out of 66 books and NOWHERE else does it say that in the Bible.

If this numbskull is right about God making me diabetic to chasten me I wish to he11 He'd tell my what I did so I could get healed of his chastening. But, I really think he is out in left field so far he can't see home plate!


Edited by Watered Garden
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And honestly, he is not nearly as riveting or charismatic as VPW, just more full of organic fertilizer. So I don't get what people see in him. But some people who are in the class are talking as if Jesus Himself is divulging great secrets, not some guy who wants to make more money selling books and tapes. (that's my private interpretation of this man's ultimate motivation).

It is the nature of man to want a king. - (or at least another sheep to lead the way so they can just follow mindlessly... <_< )

You are there for a reason. Don't give up. Don't give in. Listen with your heart and think before you speak....You know all this already. Remember that ultimately you are showing them God's love and your love in term.

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Jesus wept

Ok, Ok

I know it's out of context but I couldn't resist! :)


Remember how we used to get lambasted on Wednesday nights(Fellowlaborer night) and have to cringe in our seats as the almighty MOG spewed forth his disapproval of us all?

He would tell us that the Word was never going to move over the world, all because we failed to honor our commitment to the program.

We, 50 bewildered people on a darkened country road in Podunk, Ohio, were the reason the Devil was getting the upper hand in "Gawd's Ministry" and was positioning himself to conquer the entire world.

Then, you would come to find out he was just pizzed off because he didn't like the way his car had been washed or that somebody had forgotten to rinse the sprouts or soak the wheat berries.

(Or maybe he couldn't get his favorite "house cleaner" to "put his house in order" when his wife was out of town.)

WooHoo------ "My windshield has a streak! ---THE END IS NEAR!---It's all your fault!"

"God is love."

"God is light. In Him there is no darkness at all."

You don't need a bunch of Greek words to understand that what he is saying is contrary to that.

I know Mr. Garden had already graduated before a lot of that stuff happened and maybe that's why he is puzzled by some of it.

Mr, G. is a really terrific guy and even 35 years ago, his understanding of the Word had a profoundness I envied.

I'm sure he'll be able to see this for what it really is.

Peace, kiddo


Edited by waysider
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Sorry you are having a tough time with this class. I read the Prayer Of Jabez just a few months ago since I had never read it. I didn't like the "formula" approach.

Someone already brought up the verse in Peter about by his stripes we were healed. I know that all throughout the Gospels Jesus went around healing people. I don't know what else to add...I just hope it gets figured out. The only thing I have decided on lately is that I can't understand everything. I don't think God sends sickness and death...

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Thanks, y'all. Thanks, Waysider for reminding of those storied days of yesteryear! I seriously think my emotions are trying to remind me of that happy soul, and a few others we met afterwards.

I don't think the people in this class are swallowing it hook, line, and sinker, but it is alarming that they don't all jump up as a unit and state that yea, verily, the eminent doctor is out in the giggleweeds counting grasshoppers.

One thing Wilkinson had said was that in Ezekiel God stated that there were different degrees of sin. He didn't give chapter and verse, mainly because he was referring to Ezekiel 9 (no bible dummy, I) and it is a freaking vision! A vision because the nation had sinned greatly. I have a lot of notes on it because LCM taught some blather or other that made equally no sense. The nation sinned and worshipped other gods. God gave His prophet a vision about it. It is in the sense of God "showing" Ezekiel different areas of the temple where people were sinning and then saying "You see how awful that is? Well, look over here, I'll show you something even worse!" At the end, he says he is going to clobber all of them, not to different degrees.

No P.I.

Another thing (and there are many) this guy teaches that causes me exceeding great displeasure is that we should do good works for one reason: We FEAR God's discipline (i.e. disease, weakness, death). I was freed from fearing God as a young woman and do good works (if that's what you want to call it) because He LOVES me and I love him.

Penguin, I am not about to waste a dime or time on The Prayer of Jabez, but did he discuss titheing? I keep wondering where the money is in all of this. I know this man has made a huge fortune from the sale of his books, tapes, teaching series, etc. There is even a "secrets of the vine" for little small children, which had better never come near my grandson or heads will roll!

I don't think it is a great idea to take one verse or one passage of the Bible and build a whole huge doctrin on it. Speaking of Jesus wept, you could conceivably take that verse, build a theology around it, and become the First Church of the Weepers or something. For every verse this guy picks to support his statements, I can usually think of two or three more that contradict him. Most of what he uses is out of context. John 9 contradicts his statement that sickness is a result of sin. So does John 10:10. So do a lot of other verses.

Probably the biggie for me is working in a cancer hospital for a doctor who treated kids with cancer. If God gives people cancer to discipline them, what on earth did a 1 year old child do, what sin did this child commit to be thus "disciplined" by God? In John 9 Jesus says neither the man born blind nor his parents sinned. Newer versions stick in a word or two to indicate that God caused the man to be born blind so that Jesus could heal him. I don't believe this for a minute.

Anyways, I'm hanging in there. I don't know if the pastor is going to set up a time to meeting with Mr. Garden or not. I suspect he was somewhat dismayed by the whole thing himself. He is good man who truly loves God and I have never heard him say anything to make me wonder if this is his theology also. I don't think it is. So I'm hanging on by a thread.

Thanks for the support!


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I should add, now that I have more time, that the above was muttered in an aside to me, and I have no idea whether it was serious or not. She may have been joking. If she really believes that, this individual desperately needs prayer.

I have decided to drop out of the class. My entire relationship with God is at stake. Controversy and arguing make me ill, no doubt due to some of the previous TWI experiences I survived. Mr. Garden will be there, and his knowledge and diplomacy are far greater than mine.

I do think most people were as dumfounded as I was, and there was a great deal of talk and chatter. I was angry, upset, and tearful, and didn't catch everything people tried to explain. Of course I wasn't too concerned with what they said; opinions are like noses; everyone has one and most of them smell.

I won't be posting on this thread any more. Thanks and God bless every one of you who read this thread and responded.


Edited by Watered Garden
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(((Belle))) Thanks so much.

Mr. Garden did talk to the pastor, and he does not believe that God gave me diabetes or anyone else disease. They went over Scripture; they came to agreements and understandings. This pastor in my view is better than most of the people we knew in TWI-2. I can't imagine giong to our last branch leader with questions, and having him (a) listen and (b) change his thinking if he wasn't reading it as it was written. So I feel like I can continue in this church.

I am not feeling well physically. Sometimes I get little tinglings in my feet, because my blood sugar has been generally high these past few weeks from my stress in dealing with this. I'm scared. But I don't think God is giving my neuropathy for my doubt. In fact, this has happened before and will most surely clear up after a few days of exercise and prudent eating patterns, and no stress from the stupid class.

Went to a concert last night and talked briefly with a friend who works in medicine. She doesn't believe God makes people sick either. She was very sweet to me.

I'm thankful I'm not going to the class any more. Now I need to take some aspirin for my headache which I get thinking about it.

Thanks again, Doojable, Belle, Waysider, Penguin, Washington Weather, and all others who have helped me with this. I love you every one.


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WG, I'm so glad that the preacher was willing to see the error of the teaching. Has he corrected it among the rest of the church yet?

It's also wonderful that your husband stepped up to the plate, so to speak, to discuss the concerns.

I hope the tingling goes away quickly. I'm sure it will with the stress of this being over. Stress can do amazing things to our bodies.

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WG- No false doctrine is worth your health.

The truth is that you knew all along what was right, we just helped you process it all.

Churches can be wonderful and they can be awful. You get a group of people together with strong beliefs and there will always be conflict.

You're a strong woman. I'm sure that you've helped many people in that class with your stand.

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For the record, Mr. Garden says that the discussion was good and that the error in the teaching of the eminent, famous, rich and stupid Dr. Wilkinson was corrected. I have great respect for our pastor, more than ever now, and I am comfortable again with my church. But I ain't goin' back to Sunday school. One guy told me they missed me this morning when I went to church; I thought, "You have NO idea!"

I'm feeling better physically already. But whatever comes my way, I know God and I can handle it.


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  • 3 weeks later...

More Secrets of the Vine: (from the workbook; I didn't go back to the class.)

Secret #2 "Fruit" to "more Fruit"

In this exciting session we learn that after we start producing some fruit (internal fruit is becoming more Christ-like and external fruit is performing good works), God quits disciplining us and starts pruning us. Pruning is designed to be extremely painful. You must experience pain in order to be properly pruned. God will use several methods of pruning you. Wilkinson uses Joseph as an example. Joseph was old testament and we are under a different covenant, (the blood of Jesus) as Christians, but anyway he says God prunes you with the following tools:


Money, House, Furniture, Jewelry, Clothing, Retirement, Recreation


in the family, church, organization, community, business.


Sickness, weakness, discomfort, exhaustion, pregnancy, blind, deaf, aging


Family, friends, employer, employees, co-workers, government, strangers


Job title, responsibilities, demotion/promotion, success/failure, competition


Location of home, employment, transfer, desk location, church move

Plan: When you think you've got it all figured out

Plans to get married, children, education, succeed, finances, retire

God will use the above tools to cause horrible things to happen to you so that you are prepared for greater things. Example is Joseph's life from favored child to slave to Potiphar to prison to ruler of Egypt.

The third secret of the vine is that "IF you bear a lot of fruit, God will invite you to abide more deeply with Him."

Notice the IF. God apparently wants nothing to do with you, other than to cause you great suffering and harm, unless you are producing a LOT of fruit in your life. Huge baskets, heaped with fruit from here to Alpha Centauri. THEN AND ONLY THEN does God invite you to abide more deeply with Him.

I really wonder if I want to serve a God like that. However, I do NOT believe that God causes horrible things to happen to me for any reason. I don't believe God scourges people, tests people, or is only friendly with those who bribe Him with enough fruit of good works and Christ like thinking and behavior. (That reminds me of the immortal declaration: "God won't even so much as SPIT in your direction unless you tithe a MINIMUM of 10%.")

I think this guy is almost as good at twisting scripture as TWI. Maybe better. His blatherings have certainly reached a larger audience.

I wish my husband would drop this garbage, but he is the assistant instructor. I know he knows better.

I think this class is almost over. I doubt, however, that I go back to Sunday school ever. I am attending the women's bible study, which I like, and we are in a small group which is actually training for small group leaders, and that's okay too. But my deepest heart is no longer trusting of God or this church or anything else.

I wish I could shake this off. It is such bull-oney. But it hurts me deeply and hinders my relationship with my heavenly Father.

I did look up criticsm of the author on Google and there is a lot of it, mostly aimed at the Prayer of Jabez book. It includes using scripture out of context, name it-claim it theology, watered down thinking, and being downright mercenary. Some warn strongly against formulaic prayer. Some of the same criticisms aimed against Rick Warren are cited regarding Wilkinson as well (no surprise there; they consider themselves partners). I always thought of Jabez as being "make me famous, make me rich" for Christians, and apparently I was right. I am not sure anyone took "Secrets" as seriously as I am. I would not want to ever promote this crap to anyone else, especially someone searching for a deeper relationship with God. I personally wonder why this bird is teaching out of the old testament and the gospels. He does quote from the new testament but a lot out of the old testament and a lot of everything out of context.

In closing, I think anyone who really wants to know the nature of God needs to look more closely at the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, who, whether one believes in his diety or not, was surely the image of God in the flesh. Jesus did not scourge anyone except the moneytraders in the temple, and he was not interested in discipline as much as getting the evil out of the house of God. He taught his disciples with love and tenderness and humor. He never ever caused anyone to become sick or to die in order to make them closer to him. He actually raised people from the dead. He was love and kindness personified. People learned from him not out of fear but out of love. He said, "I always do the will of my Father." Apparently, that didn't include making people closer to God by "pruning" them with all this distress and bad things mentioned above. I would rather be like Jesus than like Wilkinson. I would rather love Jesus than fear the Father's heavy hand upon my life.

I think "Secrets of the Vine" is an insult to God.


Edited by Watered Garden
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Actually, I would not be surprised if Brucie recommended some kind of sacrifice, other than that God just kills you if you aren't producing enough fruit, which makes no sense since you can't improve your fruit-production level if you're dead. It is certainly not what I would call a "Christian" view point.

Mr. Garden indicated to me that not very many people are impressed, excited, blessed and thankful, or even agree with much of it.

I looked up Brucie Boy and found a really good critique of "Secrets of the Vine" by a pastor-teacher at a seminary in Illinois. Though I didn't completely agree with some of his points either, he did point out that Wilkinson pulls stuff out of thin air that he declares God personally told him, that doesn't agree with Scripture and cannot be documented. He indicates, subtly or nonsubtly, to have a special connection whereby God gives him revelation over and above what He has revealed to other men. He brought up the point I think I made about God inviting only those to abide with Him who have produced "much" fruit. In John 15 Jesus says no such thing. He simply says, "Abide in me, and I will abide in you." He doesn't put so much as an implied condition upon it.

This guy thought "Secrets" was better than "The Prayer of Jabez" but then he thought "Prayer" really stunk and this doesn't stink quite as much. He suggested the main purpose of the book was not so much to bless God's children with indepth study of scripture as to make money. Hmmmm...sound familiar?

I realize, reading what I just wrote, that part of my concern and dismay is rooted in the old snow in July thing. Deja Vue all over again.

Well, I won't be fooled again. Been there, done that, got the diplomas to prove it.


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