Friday, December 16, 2005

Anniversary of Hope of Pain

December 16 marks for me an anniversary, a time on which my life hinges. Everything was thrown into chaos that fateful night, December 16, 2000. Some things that happened were good, many were bad.

Who was I?

Who was I before this night? I was me, a lonely college student, arrogant, prideful, and sinful. I could take the impossible course loads and live to tell the tale. My claim is fame is getting a GPA of 3.25 while taking Physical Chemistry II, Organic Chemistry II, Analytical Chemistry II, and Physiology. I am not a genius, though some people try to accuse me of that. Since I did so well, I became arrogant. Kind of like Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction”, and a fall into destruction I would take. I studied hard, had few friends, had awkward social habits, etc. In short, I was dysfunctional. I had come from a home with a lot of bad elements. It was not absolutely terrible, but had more bad elements than good.

What got me in?

I entered ‘the business’ because I saw a way to interact with people. I hated people, but I was so alone. There I was at my sponsor’s house (he was my best friend, got in about six months earlier) and he was talking to another person about this thing as I watched. I was listening about how this was ‘my business’ and these are ‘my products’. I was sold on how much money I would make and that I could be a millionaire. I was the first one awake the next morning and I was in the kitchen alone eating Happy Days cereal (Quixtar’s version of Lucky Charms). I was thinking about the implications of joining this ‘business’. I understood the concept of not buying other peoples’ products if I had my own business, so I was pondering what it would be like raising a child in an environment where General Mills is not a name brand, but Critics Choice is. I wondered if it mattered. I did not see ‘The Plan’ again; it was six months since I saw it and it didn’t make any sense to me then. I had to leave early, but told my friend to stop by that night.

That night, I was visited by my soon-to-be sponsor. He never showed me the plan, but drew out the ‘8 Team Player Steps’ (There was a 9th added shortly after). He then told me that 97 out of 100 people I talked to would not get in. He also told me that many of the people would be negative about it. He asked if these 97 people would keep me from my dreams that were written on that paper: a big yellow legal pad and a red felt pen. I only had about $60 in my checking account (and no debt except a very small student loan). He got me in by ordering the required literature, but not the product pack. I remember him saying that he will have to explain that to the upline.

I went to a meeting (Team Training), and they promoted another meeting (Winter Conference; ‘Dream Weekend’), then they promoted another and another. Even though I saw no results, they said to keep going to meetings. They explained that some people get in and succeed right away and that others, it takes a while before a ‘take off point’. It goes like this:

Picture a line that is straight and flat, then, at a certain point, it angles up at a forty-five degree angle. They explain that the flat period is a certain unknown amount of time that a person has to be in the system ‘growing’ until they reach that take off point and start to succeed. They teach that any person who stays in long enough will reach that point.

I was floundering in that I was doing everything they said to. I was getting praised for listening and reading. I received receipts for tapes and books that said, “Tool flow = group growth; Keep up the good work! I was pondering if I should take an account of my business, but there was a John Maxwell book on the booklist and I remember it saying not to quit at a low point. Of course, John Maxwell is a Pastor! His work MUST be good. I decided not to quit, but to ‘keep doing what I was doing’, despite ‘insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results’. I was trapped by my own mind. If I stayed, it would cost me thousands of dollars, but it would all be worth it because I would strike success suddenly and pay it all back in less than a year. Or I could quit, and be branded as a loser. I also had to ponder the words of Rex Renfrow: “Why would God NOT want you in this business; you have time, money, and are helping people”. Therefore, I would be turning away from God if I left, and I certainly didn’t ant that.

I made some friends in this business…I think. My best friend is a still a friend. I met one other person that I still talk to. Most of the people, since I left, they have not contacted me. I have seen a few in passing, they keep telling me about how good they are doing. I am reminded of a story: All this positive great thinking is what I used to spew forth (I am not saying to be a negative nanny here, but there is a boundary you shouldn’t cross). I bumped into an acquaintance at one point in time and he asked how I was. I said, “GREAT”. He asked enthusiastically what was so great, but I truly didn’t have an answer. I knew at this point that I was simply lying. Things were not bad, but they were not GREAT either. The rest of my downline had just quit, I had no money, more was being spent on tools than I made, work was manageable, but difficult.

I ponder the question even today if it was in this business that I came to Christ? Here is the evidence for:

I was in a meeting where the man on stage was preaching about similar to the Gospel. I was not listening, but I was moved to cry for hours and know that Jesus Christ was Lord. I started to read the Bible and even noted some changes to my life, starting with being nice to people.

Here is the evidence against:

I still tried to do things all on my own, rarely prayed, did not enter a church for almost a year, and filtered information from the Bible through teachings of ‘the business’.

I do not know the answer to this question, and I do not think that anyone else can answer it for me. My current belief lies in an exposition from James. In that book, the second chapter, he talks about the fact that demons believe in Him. The difference is that the demons do not put their allegiance to Him. This is one of three categories that people fall into. The first is to believe in and have faith in Jesus Christ. These are the saved Christians. Next, there are those that know that Jesus is Lord, but they do not have faith in Him. The last is those that do not know that Jesus is Lord. The latter two categories are not saved. They are not Christians. I believe it is the second of these groups is what Jesus had in mind in Matthew 7:21, “Away from me, you evil doings, for I never knew you”. They look like Christians, but their foundation is the sand (world) not the Rock (Christ). How do I reconcile this? I hold that day, January 7, 2001 as the point of my salvation, for lack of another day. Just as we selected a day to celebrate the Birth of Christ (December 25th), I chose to celebrate my salvation on January 7th.

Where did I go from here?

Somewhere in the middle of my stay in BWW, I started to study doctrine. I noticed too many inconsistencies to continue to brush them under the rug. It was later that I would discover that the whole system is built on the sand of the Word-Faith movement. Sadly, this movement is the driving force behind a lot of mega-churches, and even many best selling ‘Christian’ books.

The discrepancies I found:

  1. God wants you to be rich – They take this argument straight from Health and Wealth theology. It basically says this: God wants you to be rich (Deuteronomy 27-28; 3 John 2). God will give you anything you ask for (John 16:23-24). The reality is that although God loves his people, it is not about life in the here and now. That is a speck of time, a relative zero with the span of eternity. Further, it is not about you, it is about God. In the pursuit of working for Him, preaching the true Gospel, ministering out of love for Jesus, you will receive joy, blessing of unknown source. This blessing will not be to fulfill your carnal pleasures, as it was in BWW, it will be a blessing much deeper. God does not want you to be rich; He wants you to be faithful. That means that if you have a choice between God and money, you take God. In BWW, the evidence is out there that money is the God.
  1. God wants you to do this business because you will be free, be helping people, and have money. After all, it is money that sends preachers, prints bibles, etc. – God does not want you to pursue riches. If that were the case, there is only one potential good character in the New Testament: Philemon. Everyone else that had money in that time are harshly condemned by the book of James among others. Further, this business has only 5 in 2000 people making the Platinum level (typically the ‘break even point’ for those fully committed to the system) according to Quixtars own numbers. Are you really helping people make money, or are you lining your own pockets at the expense of others? Freedom? Even if you make it to the ‘promised land’ of Diamond, you have to work 40+ hours a week just to maintain it. You still get to sleep in, as they all have destroyed their alarm clock: I have a way that EVERYONE can do this: WORK SECOND SHIFT. This is exactly what the Diamonds are doing. Perhaps they make more money than working second other places, but what is the source? Often times exploiting other people for the tool money. The last part of this argument comes from Russell Conwell who authored ‘Acre of Diamonds’. Although it is true that the money does all those things, God does not need your money, He needs your heart. When your heart is in place, your faith is in place, everything else will be as well. This was used by Rex at the conclusion to every talk I ever saw him give. It is designed to scare you from quitting. On a previous post, I wrote about a tiny fraction of the biblical basis for wealth. I will repeat it here due to it’s importance:
  • Read Matthew 19:16-22. This passage does NOT mean that a person must give everything away to be saved (yes, there have been apostic theologies called ‘poverty Gospels’ which teach this). In this verse, Jesus is testing just how well this young man kept the commandments. In fact, he failed the first one. This man loved his money more than God, which is why he went away grieving. For him, his property was worth more than his soul. POINT NUMBER 1: Money is a problem when you put it before God.
  • Next, read 1 Timothy 6:3-6. In this verse, we see the problem with using the platform of Godliness to gain material goods. In the last part (vs. 6), we see that contentment, not dreams, is the way to gain. Contentment and dreams are two opposing sides of the spectrum. POINT NUMBER 2: Contentment is the path to sound living.
  • Next, read 1 Timothy 6:9-10. It is clear from observing the BWW system that a total all consuming love for money is the motivation behind the actions. POINT NUMBER 3: When your focus is earning money, you are subjecting yourself to great temptations for practicing evil.
  • With these points in mind, I want you to know that having money is not a sin. Going on a good vacation, having a nice car, a nice house, etc, are not sins. The problem arises when you use a deceptive system of mind control to fleece people out of hard earned money so that you can buy a whole lot of things to motivate people to do more of the same.
  1. Total edification of the upline – Many people in the business talk about how close to perfect their uplines are. In reality, we are all in the same sinking boat, not perfect, nor even approaching perfect, but many of us are redeemed, will be resurrected into perfection. Anyone claiming near perfection for themselves or their superior will have a lot of answering to do before the throne of God.
  1. Many of the people in the business give the glory of their marriage, money, even salvation to the business – God is the sole owner of all that praise and glory. It is not the business that gave it, it is God. The glory goes to God. Of course, if you were to confront people on this point, they will of course say that it was God who led them to the team. The problem is that the team get confused as to which Gospel to share: Jesus Christ or the Plan. The Plan is often the first one to be shown.
  1. Answering to another man (boss, etc) is frowned upon – We see a general disrespect for authority in this business (except the upline, who demands total obedience). The bible, however, tells us to be in submission to all authority because they are ordained by God. This even goes as far as being obedient to an authority who is wretched (so far as you do not violate a command from God).
  1. Play is better than work – This one I responded to on a previous post. This business produces a problem in a lot of people that work is a bad thing. Many people find aspects of work difficult, but the BWW (and other organizations) instill a hate for work, such that people want to do nothing but play. Genesis 2:15, God places man in the garden to maintain and be a steward over it. Part of this was the break on the seventh day (I do not affirm that Sabbath is a New Testament Principle, but I do affirm the importance of rest, [Colossians 2:16]). There are many passages pointing to this, but I will not take the time to list them all.
  1. There is a quote from a tape which the concept is popular – The quote is “Someone who does not fight with you in the battle, should not celebrate with you in the victory” and I analyzed the tape it came from here. This is very selfish. What about all the people that are rejoicing with the man who found his sheep (Luke 15:3-7)? What about those rejoicing with the woman finding the coin (Luke 15:8-10)?
  1. General covetousness – This business is very heavy on covetous behavior, but it is denied totally. If you address the situation, they have redefined covetousness to mean violating some other commandment to get something. They always fall on the percentage of income my car cost me verses their car cost them. They look at the absolute giving (they claim, but never verify despite verifying the expensive cars, houses, etc) verses from the heart giving that God is truly look for.
  1. There are many other points that can be made here, check the archives and index for more.

All these discrepancies facilitated my leaving BWW. If I only learned my lesson earlier, I would have saved myself a headache, a lot of pain, and over $25,000. I just pray that my experiences helps one person avoid a similar fate. This day marks the 5th year since I started my ‘Independent Business’ with Britt World Wide. In the end, I am only wiser, yet broker.

Peace in Christ,

Xanadustc

12 Comments:

Blogger Michelle said...

Hi, I just read your article in your blog. I found your blog by doing some research on Quixtar on the internet. A woman has been inviting me to meetings and all and constantly telling me it was God's timing for us to meet and me to join this business. Her words sounded deceptive to me. I don't need to have someone tell me what God's plan for me is...I already know it in my heart and when I have that "holy" encounter with someone I'll know it in my spirit.

I'm not going to join. Was never sold on it in the first place. Instead of desiring to be a "Quick Star" and get rich "quick" I want to find my purpose in God's kingdom. The bible says "seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you".

Thank you for sharing your heart. God bless you in everything you pursue for His mighty glory!

Mon Dec 19, 05:52:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger xanadustc said...

Thanks Michelle,

In BWW (At least Renfrow teams and Winter teams) they really push that it is God that sent your would-be sponsors to you. My opinion is the contrary: it is Satan! This business teaches whole-sale slaughter many of the ways of true Christians. The two big ones:

1. Dependance on YOU instead of God! They teach that you need to be the provider, not God.

2. Covetousness. They teach you to become discontent so that you have a desire to 'dream big' and moke money. The bible teaches that contantment, not discontentment, is the goal to achieve.

You are absolutely correct in saying that you will know when it is God's calling: It will be clear and free from sin!

Tue Dec 20, 09:34:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Josh said...

Another good read, man. The worst thing that Quixtar does (other than knowingly ruin everyone below the founders) is manipulate people through their vulnerabilities or their faith...

Tue Dec 20, 08:28:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Hae-Kwang said...

I've to admit that the business of the standing order tape and the book of the month is a brilliant idea in terms of business. What makes it crappy is that it's promoted in a deceitful way it seems. If IBOs are told up front that the dollars spent on such items are mostly going to the pins platinum and above, and that potential side affects is better self-esteem, positive thought processes, etc., I'm sure people would truly consider it to grow. But, when I was actively attending the meetings, etc., the tools were promoted as necessities, and that without them, I couldn't survive.
I was alone too at the time, still am at times, but it was due to loneliness as well that caused me to keep buying tapes and books although I probably have at least a dozen from each category that I haven't cracked open. Anyhow, a belated merry Christmas and a happy new year to you.

Fri Jan 06, 10:38:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Daniel Detroit said...

I declare the true gospel that Christ Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures, He was buried and He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.

Daniel
dlang4@hotmail.com
onegospelnotmany.blogspot.com

Tue Jan 10, 12:26:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Mike said...

X,

Thank you so much for your blog and for standing firm in the truth of the Gospel. My story is very simular to yours and always elicits laughter and/or praise in God's sovereignty as I also made my first profession of faith in Jesus Christ at a BWW Free Enterprise Day event.

Many people tell me that it is the weirdest testimony they have ever heard as they have always heard of Amway, but never knew they were Christians. At this point I usually clarify that the gospel (lower case) they are preaching is a false gospel in so much as they emphasise the attainment of health and wealth over the lordship of Jesus Christ.

I remember the first time I started questioning my involvement in this organization and the truth of the BWW gospel. I went and asked my upline Diamond, Alan Leininger, how I could know if it was God's desire for me to stay in this business. He replied, "Were you a Christian when you got in?" To which I replied: "No." He then asked, "Are you a Christian now?" I responded, "Yes." He then summarized by saying, "Well, I guess you have your answer then."

I thought about this packaged reply for a few days and then realized that if he were correct in his estimation of God's will for my life, then Paul should have continued making tents instead of evangelizing the known world. That was the beginning of my true understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Although I had walked down to the floor and repeated a prayer with Bill Britt at FED 2001, I was still sleeping with my girlfriend. Did any of my upline that so often sat down with me in a fast food restaurant late at night with an open bible ever ask me about my personal life? Did they ever ask me about the progress of Christ's sancifying work in my life? Nope. They only asked me about my tounge and my tithe. Of course I immediately stopped drinking and smoking pot after my "conversion," but I realize now that this was not good fruit, but bad. I was not trying to please God by relenquishing these sins, but my upline. In so doing, I was in essence making idols of them.

I have since learned that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so much more than BWW claims. It is not a means by which good men can attain wealth, it is the means by which evil men are made holy through the imputation of Christ's righteousness. I praise God that I have found your site, as it reminds me of 1)the sovereignty of God in leading me to Himself, even through an organization such as this, 2)the state of my heart during my BWW experience, and the grace God has extended to me in changing it, and 3)that the glorious Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ demands much more of us than mere appearences, it demands that we submit fully everything in our lives to it, and live our lives in a dramitically Christiocentric manner.

Tue Mar 14, 01:04:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger xanadustc said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Mike. I am still thinking that I was not truely 'converted' there, but still keep that date out of tradition and not knowing for sure...or I WAS converted there, but a true conversion will lead to sanctification, which drew me out. I do hold this, however, it is out of the will of God to do an MLM in conjunction with the motivational organizations, and possibly to do an MLM at all.

You are correct that they do not help you in sanctification, they beat the Tongue Drum constantly, which is not even a real Biblical thing (some aspects are true, but not most). But you know all that.

My final point and I have said it many times before: God is so soveriegn that He can make good of our really stupid mistakes. Just keep on thinking back to Romans 8:28 - For will work together all things for the those who love Him. But we must keep in reemberance that "love Him" means the love that leads to display of love to others regardless of circumstances, obedience to His word, repentance to sins, and following Him in all situations.

Tue Mar 14, 08:29:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger James said...

It all sounds interesting, and I readily have to compliment xanadustc on that great argumentative essay. However, after the reading, I felt like I should add or emphasize the primary motive of the system (BWW/Amway). It is to MAKE EXCESSIVE EASIER MONEY THAN USUALLY; it is not to preach the Gospel. The Church system, however, is to preach the Gospel and help people achieve sanctification and else after conversion. Its either that IBOs, with the power of persuasion and considerable growth, are spreading the Gospel along with their message or their whole "GOSPEL" facette is all pretension as it potentially enhances credibility.

Now, individuals in the system or the group may be pursuing the wrong motive which you, sometimes, say is "to put money first instead of God." However, the idea all by itself is perfect and is to be promoted.

It is actually a great way to propagandize the Gospel. For, people, us, human being, understand conceptual issues better when made clear or intelligible by money analogies. It's a theory though not a fact.

So, the question is what is they are doing? Are they borrowing the Christ's followers as a label to boldface reliability or are they really spreading the Gospel while they are achieving they're goal--the reason the system came to existence--which is to help people live a fancier,easier, and cleaner life from the prospective of mere luxurious properties?

Fri Oct 27, 12:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger chad_claytonIL2AZ said...

you cannot put new wine in old wine skins-
you expected the lord plop the wealth on your lap, rather he will give to you when you are ready, not when you THINK you are ready.Everyones time is different,

Fri Jul 06, 04:10:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Riki said...

I just wanted to say that is always your choice what you believe and do. If you didn't have the money to spend you could have sold products or made a budget. Unfortunately you were the one with the huge desire to have friends that you tried to buy them. I am an IBO and I participate only in the things that I find beneficial to me. I don't overspend on training items or on products. I have a small customer base, where retail profit alone pays for my kate and cep costs. I spend more time in Bible study and prayer everyday than I do on all my "9 steps" combined. Life is what you make of it.

Mon Jul 07, 11:49:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger naomi said...

INTERESTING ARTICLE however I am on the verge of starting and I believe God is the one hooking me into this business as in no doubt I am putting God first. However At first I told come folks in the buz I had nothing no money so then i was ignored maybe but maybe it wasn't the right time either because i got seriousily medically ill like before I have been on my own and have been sick a long time. I have no other help besides God I am still completely broke with nothing to start up and so therefore i told them this and they were welling to work with me atleast one Plat team and first off i met with the one dude who went plat. he gave me free tools and did not bother asking me for $ for them I also told them I have nothing to start up with out having to kill myself money wise as if i am not in the hole already.
i am going to work hard but since i have been sick i cant keep a real job at all. 2 weeks in i was asked for 10 by someone who probably didnt know my story yet or didnt know i was flat broke and maxing my credit cards. ahwell i should have took off when i had the chance. as basically i could almost feel a check in my spirit about something but maybe just a misunderstanding i personally have. anyways why would I pay ten bucks to see a person speak on a screen( as i desired to be in the main room and felt like all new folks got screwed being in a room where you cant see them in person. I basically wasted my gas then if i knew that was the cash i would not have wasted my time or gas for that matter. if these dudes think i am going to forget it. you cant ask for cash from a person who does not have it same goes you cant ask for money from a baby they have no concept of what money is nor what anything is yet since that eventally will be developed. or you cant ask from a dried out lemon the juice it has been already taken from yrs and days of being burnt out. Don't worry if this is phony God is Judge and they will ultimately be Judged in the throne room of God if it is they get off exploiting the poor and those that know better. I actually know better God gave me a brian long time ago except i couldn't help the fact I got sick and had no other choice but to live off government assistance and credit debt because disability is not enough to live in this day and age especially without the help of friends and family. if these people refuse to listen to anything i have to say dont worry I am outta there because I know and have researched cults long enough to know better. i am not going to pay a dime for something i can not afford because i am broke and i am not going to sit here and starve or allow the bank to repo my car i need my car to get to the doctors and if an emergency were to occur and i got stranded because the car died i sure heck will call these guys because who else can i ask for help noone (because everyone i know is as poor as me and needs hope and if i make it who else better then to give people hope then one who has been done a beaten path before them )and if these dudes bail i know who my true friends are and who my enemies are. Gosh I am not stupid. and if i get really sick again maybe i will call to see if they visit me in the hospital on my death bed as i fight for my life and battle out cancer or whatever. we shall see what will happen only time will tell. but they are letting me hook up still and going to help me start up and if they steal my names and numbers for their own gain the heck with it because i still dont have an IBO number and if people cant give me straight forward answers to my questions ahwell. then there is no Hope for anyone left out there. but if my friends can make it WHY THE HECK CANT I! AND IF THERE IS PEOPLE WITH POWER AND MONEY BECAUSE THE ONLY WHY TO POWER AND FREEDOM IN THIS LIFE IS MONEY BUT PUTTING ALL MONEY ASIDE IF YOU GIVE YOUR HEART TO GOD YOUR WHOLE HEART TO GOD AND IF HE KEEPS DIRECTING YOU IN A CERTAIN PATH AND EVEN MAKES A WAY FOR YOU WHY GIVE UP THEN HE IS NOT GIVEN UP ON YOU HE ACTUALLY OPENED A DOOR WHY NOT TAKE WHAT GOD GIVES YOU AND USE IT FOR HIS GLORY. if people are playing me for a fool we shall just see. BUT THEN again they cant rob a dead person because that person has nothing left they are in a grave with no money to make because their mouth and feet and hands are no longer moving and their heart is no longer beating. you can take their bones and their clothes but who would want something that has been rotting away in the ground not me. and if someone trys to give me something that was once dead forget it its too risky too many horror stories i have heard from cadavir material used in medical world. jut ant right to me. SICK. anyways believe what you want. i am in serious prayer more then ever. Let God be Judge is all i can say.

Sun Mar 22, 08:15:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lovinlife said...

I appreciate the fact that everyone is entitled to their OWN opinion, but what are you trying to accomplish with this website and your blogs? It's is painfully obvious that you have nothing better to do and I feel sorry for you. I think no matter what you do, you'll have the same results because you are where you are right now because of the choices you made. No one "did" anything to you - that's impossible. You did it to yourself and if you want to psychoanalyze everthing and twist God into it and believe everything you read or think up, then it sounds like you are in for a very pathetic and lonely life. Best wishes to you - you're going to need them.

Mon Apr 20, 01:51:00 PM GMT-5  

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