Praying Over Our Children

18075e52a44c5f9887da7718dcf0aef7

30 Prayers for your children

1. Salvation—”Lord, let salvation spring up within my children, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” (Isa. 45:82 Tim. 2:10)

2. Growth in Grace—”I pray that my children may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 3:18)

3. Love—”Grant, Lord, that my children may learn to live a life of love, through the Spirit who dwells in them. (Gal. 5:25Eph. 5:2)

4. Honesty and Integrity—”May integrity and honesty be their virtue and their protection.” (Ps. 25:21)

5. Self-Control—”Father, help my children not to be like many others around them, but let them be alert and self-controlled in all they do.”
(1 Thess. 5:6)>

6. Love for God’s Word—”May my children grow to find Your Word more precious than much pure gold and sweeter than honey from the comb.” (Ps. 19:10)

7. Justice—”God, help my children to love justice as You do and act justly in all they do.” (Ps. 11:7Mic. 6:8)

8. Mercy—”May my children always be merciful, just as their Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

9. Respect (for self, others, and authority)—”Father, grant that my children may show proper respect to everyone, as Your Word commands.(1 Pet. 2:17)

10. Biblical Self-Esteem—”Help my children develop a strong self-esteem that is rooted in the realization that they are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:10)

11. Faithfulness—”Let love and faithfulness never leave my children, but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts.” (Prov. 3:3)

12. Courage—”May my children always be strong and courageous in their character. (Deut. 31:6)

13. Purity—”Create in them a pure heart, O God, and let that purity of heart be shown in their actions.” (Ps. 51:10)

14. Kindness—”Lord, may my children always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” (1 Thess. 5:15)

15. Generosity—”Grant that my children may be generous and willing to share, and so lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age.” (1 Tim. 6:18-19)

16. Peace-Loving—”Father, let my children make every effort to do what leads to peace.” (Rom. 14:19)

17. Joy—”May my children be filled with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thes. 1:6)

18. Perseverance—”Lord, teach my children perseverance in all they do, and help them especially to run with perseverance the race marked out for them.” (Heb. 12:1)

19. Humility—”God, please cultivate in my children the ability to show true humility toward all.” (Titus 3:2)

20. Compassion—”Lord, please clothe my children with the virtue of compassion.” (Col. 3:12)

21. Responsibility—”Grant that my children may learn responsibility, for each one should carry his own load.” (Gal. 6:5)

22. Contentment—”Father, teach my children the secret of being content in any and every situation, through Him who gives them strength.” (Phil. 4:12-13)

23. Faith—”I pray that faith will find root and grow in my children’s hearts, that by faith they may gain what has been promised to them.” (Luke 17:5-6Heb. 11:1-40)

24. A Servant’s Heart—”God, please help my children develop servant’s hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, as if they were serving the Lord, not men.” (Eph. 6:7)

25. Hope—”May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13)

26. Willingness and Ability to Work—”Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work at it with all their heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.” (Col. 3:23)

27. Passion for God—”Lord, please instill in my children a soul that ‘followeth hard after thee,’ one that clings passionately to You.” (Ps. 63:8)

28.Self-Discipline—”Father, I pray that my children may acquire a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair.” (Prov. 1:3)

29. Prayerfulness—”Grant, Lord, that my children’s lives may be marked by prayerfulness, that they may learn to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers.” (1 Thess. 5:17)

30. Gratitude—”Help my children to live lives that are always overflowing with thankfulness and always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:20Col. 2:7

Advertisements

When The Church Prefers Perpetrators

perps

Something is wrong when the church protects perpetrators and marginalizes victims. In recent months, we’ve seen a bit of the underbelly of covering up sexual abuse, demanding victims forgive and forget instantly for the sake of the poor offenders whose lives might be ruined if they were found out. (See this article at Christianity Today that summarizes a recent case).

(Note: This post isn’t about the Sovereign Grace Ministries situation particularly as much as it is about any church that listens more to the perpetrators than to the victims. I believe this is a universal problem.)

Cover up that exalts the “ministry” or a ministry personality over the well being of one who has been sinned against does not represent the Jesus I follow. 

Continue reading

http://www.marydemuth.com/perpetrators/

Genuine Repentance

 

PicMonkey Sample2424

I once had a dear friend who asked me this question many times..Have I committed the unpardonable sin? How can I know if my repentance is genuine?

This is a question that has haunted many sensitive people in every Christian century, and maybe it has haunted you, like my friend. I want to be clear in saying that if you’re bothered in your spirit that you may have committed a sin God will not forgive, the very fact that you have anxiety over that is evidence you’ve not committed the sin. If He is still working in your heart, it’s not possible to have committed the unpardonable sin.

My reassurance is based on repentance. It is equally basic to, and almost synonymous with, the command, “You must be born again” (John 3:7).

Repentance is a biblical word. The Old Testament thunders, “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin” (Ezekiel 18:30, NKJV). The New Testament also vigorously exhorts men and women to repent. “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish,” said Jesus (Luke 13:3, NKJV). “Repent … and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out,” said the Apostle Peter (Acts 3:19, NKJV). The Apostle Paul said, “Now [God] commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30, NKJV).

The Bible commands it, our wickedness demands it, justice requires it, Christ preached it and God expects it. The divine, unalterable edict is still valid: “God commands all men everywhere to repent.”

The Bible says, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7, NKJV).

True repentance is contrition. The Bible says, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18, NKJV). Contrition, or “godly sorrow,” as it is called in 2 Corinthians 7:10, is not a shallow sentiment nor empty emotion. It is a sincere regret over past sins and an earnest desire to walk in a new path of righteousness.

Repentance carries with it the idea of changing–changing your mind, changing your attitude, changing your ways. The Bible says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10, NKJV). If we are truly repentant, our will is brought into action and we will make a reversal of direction.

Repentance when you have hurt someone?

There are times in everyone’s life that it’s helpful to know if an offender is truly repentant. To know the true state of another’s heart. Is there godly sorrow and true repentance or worldly sorrow and temporary change?

When there is true, lasting repentance, restoration can occur as in Galatians 6:1.  Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be                   tempted. 

Here are a few signs of genuine repentance:

We name our sin as sin and do not spin it or excuse it or call it an “issue”, and further, we demonstrate “godly sorrow,” which is to say, a grief chiefly about the sin itself, not just a grief about being caught or having to deal with the consequences of sin.

We have a willingness and eagerness to make amends. We will do whatever it takes to make things right and to demonstrate we have changed.

We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized, spending as much time as is required listening to them without jumping to defend ourselves.

We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized as they process their hurt, and we don’t pressure them or “guilt” them into forgiving us.

We are willing to confess our sin even in the face of serious consequences (including undergoing church discipline, having to go to jail, or having a spouse leave us).

We may grieve the consequences of our sin but we do not bristle under them or resent them. We understand that sometimes our sin causes great damage to others that is not healed in the short term (or perhaps ever).

We don’t resent accountability, pastoral rebuke, or church discipline.

We are humble and teachable.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” ~1 Corinthians 7:10

Is there someone you have hurt by your attitude, actions, or words that you have never apologized to?  Have you been trying to justify your pride and stubbornness, even though, deep down, you know that God wants you to humble yourself and get things right?

Search your heart (Ps. 139:23-24).  Is there a person with whom you need to make amends?  Don’t delay.  A close, satisfying walk with God depends upon you and me getting things right with people we have wronged.  Trust God.  Push through the fear and pride.  Open your mouth in apology… and watch God do a great work in and through you.

 

 

Are You Strong And Courageous

women-697928_960_720 44444

Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1 6-9

After church this morning, I was thinking about these versus on courage.  Courage is something I have lacked for so many years.  It is only in this last year, I have changed so many things in my life, I have moved out of my comfort zone.

You see, God uses people who realize they are weak. In Joshua 1, God told Joshua to “be strong and courageous” a total of three times in four verses. Why? It was probably because He knew Joshua was afraid.

Another good verse that should give us courage is Ephesians 2:10 which say’s we we should step out in bold obedience. The good works he has prepared beforehand—we should walk in them!

Are there things God has prepared for you to do? When did you last reassess God’s call on your life? What are you passionate about?

For me, my calling is one that is not very popular with society as a whole.  And that’s o.k, because if the Lord has called me, He will lead the way, and he has!  The empathy the lord has given me for women and children finding themselves in abusive situations, has lead to a passion that burns bright in my soul.  As a survivor, when I can come along side a women or child and hold them as I share God’s word is the best feeling in the word.  Women in these situations need God’s word as He is the ultimate healer, not the worldly alternative.

I have faced persecution from Christians that say “I am a feminist”…let me assure you this is so far from the truth.  Jesus loved the downcast the underdog.  One of the clearest features of the life and teachings of Jesus is the way that Jesus included people that everyone else left out.  Jesus included criminals (the thief on the cross), the people that were unclean (did not keep all of the cleanliness laws and rituals), and people who were outcast (Samaritans, Gentiles, the poor, the sick, lepers, women, and the list goes on).  Jesus always defined his mission on the basis of who is included, not on who is left out.  I want to follow the example of Christ.

God’s heart always is to save people.  Every soul is precious to Him. God always cares about individuals, and we should follow his example.

I find that your courage will rise up when you have confidence that Jesus has called you. Most people leave their (calling) ministry because of confusion and a lack of courage.

If God has called you, he is with you. Courage doesn’t mean that I am not afraid, I am a lot, when trying to help a women and her children escape their violent husband and father. But, It means that I fear God more than I fear my environment. It means that I trust in his divine resources more than the resources of man.

Leadership is strengthened by our acts of obedience. Every time we are obedient we get stronger. Obedience is a verb, not a position. You know you’re on the right path when you’re being shot at. If you’re running because of opposition, you’ll be running for the rest of your life.

Your ability to endure deepens your resolve. If you act courageously, you’ll get more courage. God is with you, but he’ll only strengthen you when you raise your leg and start walking forward. He can’t steer a parked car.

Devotion-ally master the word of God. Meditate day and night.   Immerse yourself in the book. Love it, and live it.  God uses people who study and live by His Word. God told Joshua, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night . . . ” (1:8 NKJV). If you want to be used by God, then you need to know the Word of God. “Meditate in it day and night,” God said to Joshua.

Remember: The integrity of your ministry is everything, so you have to practice the truth you’re proclaiming.

Joshua was communicating with the people he was leading, and he was encouraging them every step. If you want to be used by God, then this is what you need to do.

The Bible says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9 NKJV).

Will you be that person He can use?  Will you answer the call?

 

 

The Lord Will Give You Strength

b30946cb9dd3f91099aa6225110e2783

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:29

We all find ourselves broken and weary at some point in our life. It is easy to believe and follow Jesus when things are going well, but often the toughest time to keep our faith strong is when we are trying to keep putting one foot in front of the other while not fainting. In those moments of absolute powerlessness, weakness, and brokenness the Lord is often most real, most powerful, and most present.

Thank you, God, for sustaining me and keeping my faith alive when I have been under attack from the Evil One and have grown weary with the challenges and hardships of life. Please give those I love, and mention now by name, the strength to press on even though they are weary and weak. Please be real in their lives and let them know that you are coming with grace to help and redeem as their Great Deliverer. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.

Stop Enabling Abusers

PicMonkey Sample (13)

To share your story ‘the only rule is to pray, love people, & seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit’  I am sharing this with this hope..The holy Spirit has been speaking to me on this issue for awhile now.

Today as I share with you, I am tired and a little disillusioned.  As a victims advocate with a christian agency.  I want to share a concern I have with victim blaming.

I recently read an article about Bill O’Rielly regarding his sexual misconduct.  He first blamed the media, but now he is blaming God.

“You know, am I mad at God? Yeah, I’m mad at him,” O’Reilly said on the latest episode of his web series, “No Spin News.” “I wish I had more protection. I wish this stuff didn’t happen. I can’t explain it to you. Yeah, I’m mad at him.”

 Actually, he’s mad at a “God” he made up because God doesn’t insulate sexual predators from the consequences of their actions.  He once allegedly assaulted his now ex-wife by dragging her by the neck down a staircase — in front of their young daughter.  The disturbing charges came out during a child custody battle in Nassau County Supreme Court with a judge reportedly granting McPhilmy sole custody of their two children.
I am more than a little tired of men feeling like the victim when they have a pattern of abuse.  Woman on the other hand feel guilt and self-condemnation which has deterred them from making a decision about leaving their abusive husbands. These are women that are not what the world would call “innocent victims,” because in some way they have fallen short of what people think a good wife should be like, so they in turn believe they are unable to seek a divorce. But just as abusers are not stereotypical, victims do not always look like victims.
One of the biggest problems is, we have bought into the world view on this issue.  Most of us have watched movies about what an abuser looks like, generally portrayed as the beer-drinking, lower socioeconomic bully who gets drunk, comes home and terrorizes his family by beating his wife and children. We have also seen (thanks to Hollywood) the other extreme, a well-dressed, professional, wealthy, and powerful abuser who uses intimidation and fear to control his wife and family. But what has been neatly presented to us by popular media is too stereotyped: abusers come from varying socioeconomic backgrounds and a variety of professions.

Here’s where I’m trying hard to land: to let go of the world’s standard, because too many women are stuck in abusive harmful marriages, because they are shamed into staying.  We need to come alongside these women praying for their marriages and helping both parties seek help.  Men need to come alongside the men and admonish abusive behavior and hold them accountable for their sin.  We need to stop giving men a pass, just because they are men.

Stereotypes also tell us the victims are portrayed as either timid, submissive housewives who married right out of high school, or as attractive, outgoing women who got bamboozled by a charming rich guy. Both of these types of victims exist, and I am in no way dismissing that their struggle isn’t real and valid. But here I am going to talk about what Hollywood does not present because it would be harder for people to sympathize with these victims. I am going to tell you my story.

I was married, I was born-again, to a (self-proclaimed) Christian man who did not drink, smoke, take drugs, or chase women. He is well educated, was just out of bible college, a little geeky, funny, and loves to be the center of attention. And he is an abuser. He is a teacher that attends church regularly and appears to be a good family man. And he is an abuser. When I met my husband-to-be, I had low self-esteem and little hope for the future. I was just abandoned by my first husband and had three small children, no job, no money.  Because we had chosen to home school the children and I would be a stay at home mom. I was completely vulnerable, I had no family (i separated from my family at 17, because of abuse and drug use on their part) except my children.  No one to rely on for help.

Into my life walks a man who pays attention to me, makes me laugh, and takes me to nice restaurants. Say’s all the right things.  He brings us groceries and generally was a life saver.  He doesn’t try to take advantage of me, and my children love him because he is fun and attentive. So, because we were best friends for several years and everyone at the bible college were sure we would be married, and I was in love with him, so, I married him.

After we were married, I lived with constant contention and fear of retaliation if I said something he didn’t like. As too many women know, the abuse consisted of so much more. But I was dealing with a lot of hurt in my own heart. I felt a lot of disgrace because I was divorced. The stigma of being a divorced women was huge, and I carried the weight of that shame into my second marriage.  Setting me up for further abuse.

Socially, I am out going and can talk easily to people. I am adventurous and fun-loving. My husband often referred to me as feisty, and it is true –I am not a meek and quiet woman. I also have a very sarcastic tongue. I was sexually abused as a small child, and as a result, I had a warped view of men and the world.

My husband towards the end of our marriage developed a habit of using pornography, which piled horror on top of the abuse. The men who abused me as a child and into my teens exposed me to pornography at an early age of about four/five. Much of my anger towards my husband stemmed from this embarrassment and self-hatred that I was exposed to, this recalled repressed memories for me.  I could not get my husband to stop, in fact he had demanded that I never bring it up again or else.  I felt more alone and afraid, because I could not handle this situation without freaking out and the enemy had me convinced I was in a dire situation where he would ultimately hurt me like the men before him.  I feared for my life.  I know that sounds unrealistic and dramatic, but when you have been systematically abuse from 4/5 to teen years with no emotional support, to me pornography was the reason…  All I knew was pornography equals hurt and violence.

I remembered a time when my daughter walked in on him screaming at me with his 6’4” body, threatening me with his finger in my face, punching walls, kicking furniture and becoming out of control.  This was before a special event, we had planned to go to a yale/harvard football game (something I wanted to do since I was a child), she would bring this up repeatedly, because she was horrified by the incident.  It was this along with the pornography, that I had the courage to finally leave him. I left without warning while he was at work.  Not my best work.

As is the rule with most domestic violence abusers, my husband did not change and the abuse continued. When we made attempts at reconciliation, I would come up and stay the weekend with him, but the anger and yelling continued, so I stopped coming back.   I desired reconciliation through counseling and pastor accountability not divorce…That was his choice.

We do not “deserve” to be hit, kicked, slapped, punched, or emotionally tormented. Jesus does not treat His bride this way — EVER.

Well-intentioned Christian friends told me what many women hear in the Church, “God hates divorce!” All marriages have problems, just suck it up.   I do believe that divorce is not God’s heart for us. But the problem was my ex-husband did not want to take accountability for his abuse and sinful nature.  I do think sometimes this scripture of God hates divorce is sometimes used as a weapon to admonish women,  and has destroyed any hope for them to ever be free of physical and emotional abuse. The fact I sought separation some felt I was asking for divorce, some said “what am I teaching my children about marriage”. We feel stuck, even though it is the abuser who has broken the covenant, and condemned us to a life of misery and bondage because he (or she) does not repent.  Why wasn’t this admonishment made to my ex-husband, instead he received support and nurturing from friends and the church.  He is still hailed as the wronged one as he proclaims he felt pressured to marry me (even though he asked me, I did not initiate nor would my confidence let me), in fact I had asked him many times while engaged..are you sure this is what you want?  and I that had abandoned the marriage through separation.  No mention of his abuse.  Every relationship he has had in the past ended horribly and hatred on the women’s side.

My point of this blog post, is that society and sadly even the church too many times blames the victims.  The men somehow get a pass, especially if they are charming, because of course he does not look like a typical abuser.  I would have probably said the same thing years ago.  We were together two decades.  I loved him with all my heart and I would have never divorced him.  I may have lived as a single women separated, but I believed that no one is beyond the reach of the Lord, He could change any heart.  The problem was he would not acknowledge his sin.

We can save some of these marriages, if we put aside judgment, shame and love them back to a surrendered life to Jesus Christ.  Changing their hearts first and foremost.  Instead I actually lost friends, because they did not believe me.  They told me to stay in my marriage, that I am a bad witness to the world, but these same people told me to move on after my husband made the decision to divorce me, when I tried to fight to save it.  They said Forget him move on.  As, I tried to bring the pastor alongside to bring him accountable.  I was then told Why would you do that if he is abusive.  Following this logic is not biblical and can make you feel crazy.

Does this make any sense? An abusive husband gets caught and says the “right” words to his friends and is quickly embraced, as the wife is disciplined by her/his friends for taking steps to protect her life.   Too many wives within our churches are intimidated back into abusive homes by unsupportive male leaders, who exploit their authority and misuse scripture in directing them to “try harder” and “stop making him angry.” This is a form of spiritual abuse that re-victimizes the abused and grants permission to abusers to continue their violence against a child of God.

I am saddened as I minister to women who are stuck in domestic abuse and violence.  How they are shamed, because of their meekness and the fact that they held this secret for so many years, their friends and churches do not believe them now.  I have seen and heard about women horribly beaten or even killed in this ministry.  We need to be like Christ, believe them, shelter them and above all else love them.  So, they can heal and have the courage to heal.  Please do not be like the world and automatically side with the men.

Today we are witnessing the power men have in our society, through Weinstein, O’Rielly, Cosby and the #metoo movement etc..we as members of the church need to be different.

Too many of us know abuse victims who have been instructed by a pastor or someone in their church to keep quiet about the abuse, and to stay with their abusive spouse in order to “work things out”. They convince these abused that doing anything otherwise is considered to be a “bad Christian witness”. The disgusting reality is that this has nothing to do with being a “bad Christian witness”, and everything to do with a church that worships itself as it sacrifices its vulnerable.  The “bad Christian witness” is proclaiming to love Jesus as you silence victims and push them back into the fists of their abuser. This is an abomination to the very Gospel proclaimed by so many of these churches.   Don’t they understand that Jesus gave his very life for the vulnerable and the abused? A church that silences abuse hasn’t encountered Jesus.

Ask yourself this, is your church a safe place for victims of abuse?

Any church that redefines abuse instead of stopping it, is not a safe place. Any church that devalues women instead of respecting them as equals to men, is not a safe place. Any church that silences the oppressed instead of protecting them, is not a safe place.

A safe church does not tolerate the abuse of women or anyone else for that matter. A safe church empowers and equips all victims to walk away from those who hurt them. A safe church is where the abused can leave the abuser being assured that is what God wants them to do.

We have much to confess and much to change.

Cycle Of Abuse

In honor of October Domestic Violence Month

4b506b65ce1aa4b9341145e82a3564a9--matthew-henry-quotes-abusive-men

Stopping the cycle of abuse is one challenge, but a bigger challenge is knowing how to raise a son when the men in your life have been abusers.

This is an honest and raw post that is very difficult for me to share, but my hope is, it will speak to someone’s heart.  That after much prayer, there is someone who needs to hear this, it’s my story.

This has been an interesting and exciting week for me, getting ready for my son’s wedding which has made me both emotional and also reflective on my life.

I have often wondered and worried about what kind of husband my son will be, since his male role models were emotionally unavailable and abusive.  With his step-father, I would watch him bend over backwards trying to please him and gain his approval, but always came up disappointed.  He was young and always felt that he never measured up.  Leaving me with guilt and regret, and causing me to question, how would he love his wife, if he only knew emotionally unavailable and abusive role models?

In the two years I have witnessed my son and his fiance’s relationship, it has at times brought me to tears of joy.  He is a sweet loving gentle giant, who praise the Lord, treats her like a princess.  I have talked to his fiance at length and she always talks about how kind, loving and patient he is.  I asked him one day why this is and he answered  “Mom, I witnessed you being hurt too many times, the look in your eyes, made me as a child promise that if I ever married, I would never want my wife to ever feel that kind of pain, fear or sadness.” and “Plus, I want to model Christ in my home and love my wife as Christ loved the church.”  Blessed and humbled mom.  To be fair my daughters have also successfully found healthy loving relationships.  With the Lord there is hope to break this awful cycle.

My Story

In my marriage, I had denied the truth for so long I was unable to recognize what was really happening. The abuse had started subtly and grown insidiously. My husband and I claimed to be Christians, so how could our marriage be abusive? He was my best friend for years how could this happen?

I met my ex-husband at a Christian church we both attended. He was handsome, intelligent, charming and interesting—always looking for adventure and fun.  He could make me laugh like no one else. He often discussed the gospel and he cared genuinely about people’s salvation. He loved telling me and everyone else who would listen, how he was alone in the bible college chapel and the Lord spoke to him “Cheryl will be your wife,” something he now denies.  Our wedding was a God-centered event, shared with many of the students from bible college. I envisioned and hoped our marriage to be a shared life of service and impact for God’s kingdom.  I was so in love. I truly believed that if I was a good wife, my marriage would go well and we’d have a loving life together.  I was so blessed to marry a man of God.

Though, looking back now, I realize he was somewhat self-centered before we were married, but, I did not see any red flags about the abuse that was to come. But very early in our marriage I saw signs that life was going to be very different from what I’d envisioned. If I didn’t comply with his expectations, he’d become angry and yell for hours at a time.

 As I began to internalize his accusations and criticisms, both my confidence and my self-worth began to crumble. I couldn’t even confidently discard old food from our refrigerator without fearing a blow up may occur because I’d mistakenly tossed out something he wanted to eat. As my self-worth eroded, I questioned my ability to be a loving wife and mother, and whether I was truly a woman of faith.  Was this somehow my fault.

On the outside we looked like a loving couple, especially in our Christian circles. He appeared spiritually mature. He prayed eloquent prayers, participated in deep theological discussions, and often referenced Scripture to support his insights.  I did everything I could to establish the appearance of the godly partnership I so desperately desired.

But behind closed doors, things were far from normal. Unable to predict when the switch would flip on his anger, I walked on eggshells. Without warning, I’d suddenly become the object of  his uncontrolled, frightening rage. There was no escaping his anger.

Because our situation was so intense, I was in constant prayer with the Lord. I pored through Scripture to find direction and answers from my Savior. I took to heart his accusations that I was ungodly, unsubmissive, and prideful, and constantly confessed my sin to the Lord. I also took seriously the scriptural reference to forgive 70 times 7, so as his rages continued, I focused on forgiveness and mercy.  He repeatedly told me what was “true” about me: I was disrespectful, unsubmissive, and wanted to take the lead. I lost confidence in my ability to identify reality. “Truth” had been verbally twisted and used against me. The fear and constant threat of attack rendered me an emotional weakling.

All attempts to stop the abuse were unsuccessful and now with pornography added, he began to criticize me for what he called my lack of trust in him, resulting in him yelling so loudly everyone in the house heard and lasted for hours into the early morning.  This would occur more frequently than I would admit. I made the decision after seeking counsel to separate.  I wanted restoration, and I thought that if we separated, it would be a huge wake up call, that he would miss me, repent and change his heart.  I did not think divorce was possible.  But, after a couple failed reconciliation attempts, he stopped counseling and wanted a divorce, citing I never wanted reconciliation and I had abandoned him.  Which was not true.  There would be more hurtful reasons he would tell friends and pastors on why we divorced.  Always with me the villain and would further strip me of any dignity and worth.

The grief I experienced over the failure of my marriage was overwhelming, and the recovery process has been grueling. But God never abandoned me. Rather, he’s drawn me closer to him. I learned God’s grace is completely reliable, and he can handle the messy truths in our lives. And the most awesome realization is that God wants to use me. As God now regularly opens doors of ministry to me, I’m charged with telling my story and sharing his message of grace.

One of my ministries is, I led a support group and counsel women who have been abused. One question that often comes up as I talk to christian women is the relationship between domestic abuse and the Christian teaching that wives must submit. Specifically, people want to know if abuse occurs more often in homes where they are taught that husbands are the head of the household.  Since, my ex husband once locked me in a room to try to teach me submission. I looked into the research, but, I don’t believe it to be true. It is something that should be beautiful and good. What I found was abuse happens across the board, with people in every belief and non-belief, it is not the teaching of the church, but the heart of the person.  In regards to submission to our husbands that are abusive, Christian husbands are not Christ. They are fallible, forgiven sinners. They do not stand in the place of Christ. Their wives relate directly to Christ (Hebrews 4:16; 11:6), not merely through their husbands. Husbands do not have the wisdom or the power or the rights of Christ. Their likeness to Christ in leading their wives is limited and focused by these words: He gave himself up for her . . . nourishing and cherishing . . . not be harsh and hurt them.

Therefore, an abusive husband is ALWAYS breaking God’s law. He is directly disobeying Christ and he is in sin. He is not to be indulged but disciplined by the church. The wife has every right to ask the church for help. A Christian woman should not feel that the only help available to her is the police. That would be a biblical failure of her church.  So, again,  it is NEVER your fault, please do not fall into this trap.

Encouragement – Plea To Women Touched By Abuse

What I want to say to you today, is this, I know that many of you – because of your experiences with or watching a parent – have been hurt by men in some way.  I know this hurt is very, very deep and raw. While I cannot speak on behalf of men, I first want to tell you how sorry I am for what you have been through. I want you to know that no woman EVER deserves to be hurt by a man, and there is nothing you have or could have ever done to deserve the pain you have experienced. No action or inaction you have ever taken warrants the hurt that has been done to you. It doesn’t matter what excuse he may give, if he wanted to marry you or not, felt pressure, was stressed, he fell out of love for you. You did not deserve to be treated this way.

I know how easy it is in the midst of this kind of hurt and abuse to submit to the trap of believing that all men are unkind – that all men may be hurtful, manipulative, or abusive.  I know you have been conditioned to believe that this is all there is, that these are the only kind of men that exist. If you have given into this belief, I want you to know something…It is not true, it is a lie the enemy wants you to believe.

There are men in this world who are good, kind, gentle and have love running through the core of who they are. There are men in the world who are committed to and surrendered to Jesus Christ and His example. There are men in the world who are willing to sacrifice and love you deeply, the way YOU deserve..

I promise you this – the good men in the world may be difficult to find, but there are many.  Like my son.

I want you to know this, too, in your head and your heart – Jesus Christ wants to place His healing hand on your broken heart, and make it whole again. He wants to restore your faith that men can be kind and loving. He wants to restore your belief in your worth, your wholeness, your beauty, and all that you have to offer the world.

Christ loves to meet us in the depths of our brokenness, He brings wonderful restoration. Today I pray that if these truths speak to your life, if you like me have experienced this pain – that God would bring good men into your life – to restore your faith that men can be kind, and good, and true.

for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. Jeremiah 31:13

 

My closing plea is to all Christian men

and in particular to the leaders of churches: You have a responsibility to raise up men of faith to be good loving husbands and fathers.  Teach them to love and cherish women, the weaker vessel that the Lord loves so much!  His much loved daughters that he has given to you the responsibility to protect and love.  Please be the messenger of a beautiful vision of marriage that calls men to bear the responsibility for. Make it part of the culture of manhood in the church that the men will not tolerate the abuse of any of its women. Ever!

The church should not harbor an abusive man or woman whom the civil authorities would punish if they knew what the church knows.