The Ultimate Sacrifice

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I witnessed the worst and the best of humanity last night.  I was on a call as an advocate on a child abuse case.  A 14 year old girl had called the police to report her step father for sexually abusing her. This had been going on for 7 years.  Her mother had threatened her continually, if she ever told anyone she would be thrown out of the house. During the interview the young girl was asked why she decided to call the police now she said “because my little sister just turned 7 the same age when he started molesting me, I wanted to protect my sister.”

This young girl had endured horrible abuse at the hands of her step father for years, Threats from her mother, no emotional support.  Yet, the love she had for her sister caused her to risk everything to save her.  When the stepfather found out what she had done and why, he responded..”I would never touch my biological child, I have morals” really you have morals?  He was arrested and the mother decided her abused daughter could no longer live under her roof.  she would be going to her grandmothers house to live.  At the end of the night about 3am, I was sitting in the sheriffs suv crying my eye’s out and looked over and the big strapping deputy was doing the same thing.

While thinking about what a loving sacrifice this young women made for her sister. I thought about the sacrifice Jesus made for us.  Jesus paid the highest price for you and me because He loves us more than we could ever imagine. He was put to death by being crucified on a cross, and his body was laid in a tomb behind a stone. He lived and then died rejected and alone. Like a rose He was trampled on the ground. Jesus took the fall and thought of you ABOVE ALL!

Jesus saw sacrifice as something beautiful because it would bring us life.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16.

Jesus’ calls us to voluntarily lay down our lives as He did–to sacrificially love people even when it’s uncomfortable or painful. What if you saw sacrifice as a beautiful word?

Just as this young girl sacrificed all for her sister, sacrificed her home, her security. This is real love.  I pray for this young women, I pray when we follow up that she comes to know Jesus as her savior.  That his transforming power will heal her heart.  I know this young women changed my life with her sacrificial heart and bravery.

 

 

 

 

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The Long Con Of Child Grooming

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I never imagined I’d be writing a post like this one.  I’m sharing this scenario because it was unimaginable to me and may be to you, too.

As I have watched the news about Roy Moore and Bob Coy, I started thinking about the phenomenon of child grooming.  Reading the controversial article released a torrent of memories.

Many wonder where were the wives in these situation?  Why did they allow this?I thought I would share a story from the wife’s perspective:

I want to share a story about a women who married a man that was grooming a student of his for years.  This was before they were married, but she now realizes she was used in his long con.  She knew absolutely, nothing sexual happened, because she knew the young lady well.  In fact, she was mentoring her. But, she now also realizes, she is the one he desired all along.

Looking back, she was extremely naive, which is why I’m writing this. This women wishes she had been aware of the scale, method and ferocity of child grooming.  He spent time with this student, bought her gifts and treated her like she was special.  He joined our church, which she also attended and became her youth leader.

The worrying truth about child grooming, however, is it’s not just the child who’s being manipulated by a predator – it can be you, the adult, as well.  She realizes now that the reason he became her friend in the first place was to have access to her.  You see, In order to have access to a child, a predator needs to go through their care-givers – and in such a way that they don’t arouse suspicion.  The three of them were always together they enjoyed, sports, movies and church.

It’s also important to note that the perpetrator most likely won’t exhibit behaviors which would make him look like a predator.  So, you can imagine our surprise when she was a senior in high school after allegedly grooming her for 4 years, he gave her a gift for valentines day.  He was a man of 40.  In the envelope was a proposal and a diamond ring along with a letter of his desire to have lots of children with her. Luckily, she declined and showed her the letter and returned the ring.  But, not before this young women was shocked, startled and afraid. Especially, because she was innocent and blindsided by this whole revelation. She was not alone in this.

A few months later he had a major mental breakdown, which in her mind explained his bizarre proposal and behaviors.  She assumed he was in a desperate situation and clinging to any life line he could find.  She found herself as his medical contact as he had no one else, so she became his proxy.  She sat at his bedside everyday, meeting with doctors and counselors.  When he was released, She was forced to be his legal guardian, even though they were the same age.  This was the only way, he could be released from the hospital after several weeks.  He came to live with her and recovered for more than a year.  Unfortunately, due to this women’s strong nurturing side, she let her guard down and after 2 years fell in love with this man.  Thinking he was genuinely remorseful for what he had done.  She chalked it all up to his mental illness.  The counselors said with medication he would be fine.  She believed them.  He went on to attend Bible college and they were married.

As most of you can guess, this marriage did not have a happy ending, they  had a marriage filled with domestic violence and lack of trust.  She had learned early in her marriage, while he was at bible college he was interested in a relationship with a 19 year old girl from another country.  Again, nothing inappropriate happened to this young lady, I doubt she was even aware of the situation at all.   This relationship (in his head) happened at the same time he was at her home everyday as if nothing had happened. So, once again she had become an unwilling participant in his obsession with youth and the paradox of what is appropriate and what he desires.

One of the aspects that has been the most difficult for her to deal with is the realization that she was fooled by this man. Conned if you will. She felt (and still feels) like a fool.

Her life was like a virtual reality — her home like a movie set consisting of false fronts. Like the Truman show.  She came out of the marriage confused, unsure of what was real and what was fabrication. She was embarrassed. Thinking, how could she have been such a fool?  She had been literally sleeping with the enemy. The crime was intensified by the fact that it was carried out by the man who had sworn to love and protect her.

She hopes that writing down her thoughts will help her untangle them. She still doesn’t know how she feels or how she is supposed to feel. She is constantly reliving her many interactions with this man, hearing his voice and his laughter, remembering his every touch and facial expression — a slideshow of once pleasant images, before they were married now viewed after their marriage through a distorted lens, nightmarish and cruel.

Now the cold, hard truth sets in. She was deceived; She was played! She was led on. You see the relationship was never what she believed it to be.

It’s funny, when the dusts settles and the pain goes away, you are able to see things so clearly.  She realizes now, she was used..plain and simple, by a man that wanted a relationship with someone else much much younger.   I believe now this was the reason her now ex-husband became friends in the first place.  She was part of the long con.  She was not the one he wanted, she was the one society would approve of.  No wonder he has told people, he felt pressured to marry her.

Hearing this story, I am starting to be much more educated on the subject now.  After training to be an advocate for women and children.  I am becoming more aware of the signs and the behavior of these men that have a mental illness and are preoccupied with young women.   As parents we need to learn the signs, be aware of who our children are spending time with.  Talk to your children and educate them too!  We must understand that the Christian community is not immune to this phenomenon.  Sometimes, I think we can be more vulnerable.  In our attempt to give forgiveness and look for the best in people, we sometimes over look dangerous behaviors.

The Christian vision of manhood is men as givers, not takers. Men as self-sacrificers, not self-gratifiers.

I am dedicating my life to educating and bringing awareness to this phenomenon.  I pray for her ex-husband that the Holy Spirit reveals the truth to him and his pastor.  I pray he gets the help he desperately needs.  She has revealed the truth as she now knows it to his pastor and the people that need to know,  it is no longer her burden to bear.  People need to be accountable for their actions.

In the meantime, the Lord has richly blessed her. Her kids are healthy, Godly and all either married or will be in the next several months.  She is happy and fulfilled.  She is happier than she has ever been.  Peace reigns in her life.  She no longer bears the shame of her marriage and realizes through the Lord’s help it was not her fault.  Her biggest fault was being a gullible women wanting to believe the best in someone she loved.

Was she foolish to marry this man, ABSOLUTELY!

While she is no longer “in love” with her former spouse, this side of divorce.  For her, divorce was the beginning of understanding that God’s love never fails, it never gives up, and it never runs out. That kind of love will never leave her.

She has learned that there is a freedom on this side of her divorce, a freedom that she was hoping for.  The Lord has shed light on the darkness in her marriage and in her life.

1Cor 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 

For more information on the signs of Child Grooming:

https://thejoyfulchristianministry.com/2017/11/15/stop-child-grooming/

http://themamabeareffect.org/1/post/2013/11/do-you-know-how-to-identify-grooming.html

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Abuse Breaks The Lord’s Heart

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As I have shared on this blog, I just completed training to be a victims advocate.  I am so thankful the Lord has entrusted me with this ministry.  Today, I spent time with a Christian women who had just escaped a domestic violence situation.  While I was sitting with her and holding her hand at the hospital, I was heartbroken for her and heartbroken for all the women who find themselves in this situation. This is a situation, I am all to familiar with myself. I thought of my heavenly Father and how his heart must break each time one of his precious daughters is hurt.

I am hearing stories of so many Christian husbands and wives who are hurting each other.  I have recently been privy to intimate details of one Christian marriage after another where someone was being desperately hurt by their spouse.  Desperate women with nowhere to turn who are suffocating emotionally and not getting the help that they are begging for.

Emotional abuse is defined as “an attitude of entitlement and profound disrespect that discounts at every turn the inherent right of the other person to dignity, separateness and autonomy.  Out of entitlement and disrespect spring various overt behaviors that use anger, violence and/or contempt to induce fear, guilt and shame.  The other person is controlled, punished or demeaned.”

Harsh words and selfish actions, coming from the person who vowed to love you like no one else, kills a spirit slowly and methodically.  The woman living within this kind of relationship, especially long term, begins to lose track of reality.  What is truth?  Am I actually crazy?  Am I really an idiot?  Maybe if I did this, things would get better?  Maybe if I prayed more, cooked better, spent less, served more, spoke less, I wouldn’t deserve to be treated this way?  Or perhaps, I really do deserve this.  Perhaps, it’s not that bad.  Perhaps, this is what God has called me to.

What does this do to your heart when your spouse is constantly yelling and disregarding your worth?  Making you feel unloved and constantly hurting you? Can you imagine this? Can you picture your spouse doing any of these things to you?

I can tell you from experience living within an abusive relationship is a slippery slope.  I knew things were difficult, but I was blind to how wrong it all had really become.  Especially, since, I am a survivor of long term childhood sexual abuse, my perspective on how I should be treated is was somewhat skewed.  Compounded by the fact that I loved my husband, still do and care very much for his spiritual life.  Being together two decades, is hard to not care about the person.

These thoughts just scratch the surface of a hugely controversial topic.  If you or someone you love is in this kind of situation, please get help.  There may not be a black eye, but a heart is being broken a little more each day.

There is no place among the followers of Jesus for violence or harsh words, for sexual manipulation (withholding),  or for making threats. Blaming tiredness or stress, or never wanted marry her does not cut it. There is NEVER an excuse for this type of behavior. These things are symptoms of a deeper issue in your heart. All such abuse is inexcusable, a betrayal of the standard set for husbands by the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are abusing the family that God has entrusted to your care, then the issue is not with the Bible, but your refusal to trust and believe what it says.

The model for marriage that the Bible offers is good and beautiful. It depicts man and woman as complementary; it upholds the dignity of both; their equality and their differences. It takes its pattern from the person of Jesus Christ who loved his bride, the church, and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25).

I shared an open letter to my ex-husband on my last post.  It was not posted to hurt or through bitterness, but to educate to tell my story and more importantly, to hopefully bring him into repentance.  It is however, frustrating, when you try to go thru the proper channels, by notifying the church and counselors, but come up empty.  With the church, I was told, first to pray for my husband.  The second said “well you claim he is abusive, why would you want reconciliation.”  Because his spiritual life is at stake. With the counselor, we were both told to write a letter detailing the abuse, including any unforgiveness or bitterness.  When my husband read my letter his response was “If that is the way you feel about me I am outta here, I won’t bother you again.”  He then filed for divorce.  Even though I was doing what the counselor asked me to.  I was hoping he would see his sin and like Isaiah 6 say before God…Whoa, I am a man of unclean lips.  Sadly, he did not give counseling a chance and was ask to leave it.

One of our major problems was submission, if he felt I was not submissive, he would lock me in a room shouting scriptures.  What he and many fail to realize is Headship is not wielding power over another, but is the exercise of responsibility, in love, for the fulfillment of others. Submission is not the forced subjugation of one person to a cruel authoritarian, like my example, but a choice freely made to honor a person and acknowledge the weight of the responsibility God has placed on their shoulders. (And it is precisely because of that responsibility that the Bible places on husbands that it takes abuse and family violence so seriously.)  If you stood before the Lord and promised to love your spouse and were joined in marriage.  There is NO excuse for this kind of behavior, no matter what circumstances brought you into the marriage, or lack of love.  The Lord desires obedience, the covenant you made to THIS spouse, is what the Lord cares about.

Revealing abuse, in whatever context it is taking place, is necessary. 

Warning: If you are an abuser then there is no road to salvation that does not involve the bright light of truth shining into your heart and onto your behavior. Mercifully, the God who is against us in our arrogance and violence is also full of mercy when we turn toward him in humility and begin the long, hard road of repentance.  Repentance means the action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse. contrition, penitence, the abuser needs to make himself right with God and the person he harmed.  If he does not make things right with the person he harmed there is NO TRUE REPENTANCE.  If there is no true repentance, he will abuse again.

The bible talks about true love in 1 Corinthians 13 makes it obvious that emotional abuse is wrong. The apostle Paul describes the actions of real love. First, he says love is patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:4). Emotional abuse is neither patient nor kind but instead is quick to flare up at small offenses. Love “keeps no record of wrongs” (verse 5), but emotional abuse is all about pointing out how another person is wrong in everything she does, so as to protect the ego of the abuser. Love is not rude or selfish or prideful or irritable or resentful—all unfortunate qualities of emotional abuse. Instead, love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (verse 7). Sadly, it is the loving person—the one who loves unconditionally—who is most often the target of emotional abuse.  She is the one the abuser vilify’s at the end.

According to the Bible’s definition of love, should an emotional abuser be silently tolerated? Does love require that one overlook the abuse and “persevere” through the pain? The answer to both these questions is “no.” There are loving options other than tolerating the status quo. Abuse is a learned behavior, and if we allow it to happen and continue, we are in fact accepting it. We cannot and should not accept verbal or emotional abuse, for at least two reasons: it dishonors the Lord and it often escalates to physical abuse.

Abusing someone emotionally is not the behavior of a person walking in fellowship with the Lord. How does a relationship deteriorate to the point of emotional abuse? Somewhere along the way there was a failure to obey God’s commands regarding your relationship (see Ephesians 5:21). It takes two people to make a relationship, and each side is to have his or her own fellowship with God through Christ and to be actively choosing to honor God and one another. Without that fellowship with God, and without that commitment to honoring each other, there will be a relationship breakdown.

Any relationship with emotional abuse will eventually have to choose one of three paths: one, the abuser admits fault, sees his behavior as harmful, and changes; two, the abused person walks away, at least temporarily; or, three, the abuse is allowed to continue indefinitely, to the harm of both parties.  The latter is what was allowed to happen in my marriage.

My point is this; the abuser will only find healing and forgiveness through genuine repentance and calling on the Lord. Second Corinthians 7:10 says that “godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” The difference between godly grief and worldly grief is repentance. A person who truly understands the nature of his sin will be able to feel grief that leads to repentance and salvation and a clear conscience.

I learned through my recent failed marriage that we cannot make choices for someone else. We cannot stop someone’s emotional abuse. That is a choice that the abuser must make. But we can refuse to accept the abuse without arguing or making demands. The most extreme cure for emotional abuse is separation (see 1 Corinthians 7:5). A separation from the abuser can allow time to seek godly counsel from a pastor or biblical counselor so that spiritual balance can be introduced into the relationship and reconciliation can occur.  In my case my husband chose the easy road and chose to divorce me, instead of facing his sin.  He still feels that I blew things out of proportion, his words.  Even though I was hospitalized right after I left with an emotional breakdown from his abuse.

Regardless of the choices that your abuser makes, we can make the choice to obey God and honor Him in our lives. Accepting the abuse is not the way to go.

The human viewpoint is that we can do “something” to change things. The Word of God tells us that only doing things God’s way brings peace that lasts.

The Lord has shown me, through my advocacy and through my experience that I do have something to offer to my precious sisters who are victims of abuse. I can pray. We can pray together. After all, I understand this is an intense spiritual battle. The enemy loves contention and abuse in marriages. I realize, I don’t have all of the answers. But, I can come along side and counsel those who are finding there-selves in this horrible position.

Please join me in praying for those who are abused.  And, please for those who abuse, please pray for my ex-husband for his heart and repentance, not for me, but for his spiritual life.  That he would break this cycle and not hurt another women.

Let’s surround these who are hurting so much with the power of God and of prayer together!

Almighty God,

You alone are the sovereign God of the universe. You are the Creator of the universe. You hold every star, planet, comet, molecule in Your powerful hands. You alone are God – there is no other. You are the Wonderful Counselor. You are the Mighty God Who Saves. You are our Rock. You are our Fortress. You are the only source of truth and love. You possess all wisdom. You possess all understanding. Nothing escapes your notice. If we rise to the heavens, You are there. If we make our bed in the depths of the grave, You are there. Where can we flee from Your presence? You are everywhere. You are all-knowing. You are all-powerful. You will accomplish Your good purposes.

How we praise You that no human, no demon, no power or principality can ever thwart Your plans. No sinner is beyond Your reach. No human evil is too great for the blood of Jesus to overcome. The blood of Christ is able to cleanse all of our sin. We are all in desperate need of Christ. You are more than sufficient for us!

You love marriage Lord. You love families. You hate divorce. You hate all sin. You hate violence. You hate people hurting one another in any way – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, financially, physically, or sexually. You long for every marriage to represent the intimacy between Christ and His church, to bring You great glory. It is the enemy who wants to rob, kill, and destroy each of us, our marriages, and our families. Let us cooperate with You to heal and bless marriages, let us never cooperate with the enemy!

Lord, we lift up some very broken and hurting marriages and families to You today. We lay them at Your feet in heaven before You Father, the Most High God. We cannot fix these precious people for whom Christ died. We cannot heal them. But You absolutely can. They are not beyond Your reach. Wives cannot fix abusive husbands in their own power, wisdom, and strength. We cannot even fix or save ourselves. But You are the God who saves! You are the God who heals! You are able to change people by the power of Your Spirit working in them. You are able to turn wretched sinners into holy saints! You are able to change a person’s nature completely. You are able to destroy sin and death – Jesus already has done so on the cross! You are able to radically change sinners and evil people and broken, hurting people into people who demonstrate the very heart and mind of Christ. In Jesus, there is NEW LIFE! The old has gone, the new has come! In Jesus, You are able to make anyone a NEW CREATION! How we praise and thank You for this amazing miracle!

We lift up those who are being or have been abused by their husbands. We lift up those who are experiencing severe problems in their marriages. The spiritual, emotional, and mental damage that true abuse causes is so very devastating, Lord. And it is so rampant today. How my heart breaks and how I just weep for those who are being (or have been) mistreated – whether as children or as adults or both Father. I know that Your heart is greatly grieved over this oppression and cruelty. This is not Your will for anyone. You want all of us to have godly families that are healthy, vibrant, and flourishing. You desire all of us to walk in obedience to Your ways. You are a holy God. You cannot tolerate any sin. You will not ignore the cries of victims and You will not ignore the sin of abusers. You desire justice.You do not ever condone any sin.

Some of these precious people are hurting so very much, Father. The wounds are grievous. Draw them to Yourself. “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18. I pray that each one of these dear souls will find her worth in Christ. I pray that they will each find Your healing mentally, emotionally, physically, sexually, and spiritually. I pray that You might provide the resources they need, the wisdom of God, and the power of Your Spirit. I pray that You might help them to take each thought captive for Christ. Help them to see any lies they are embracing from the enemy of their souls. Set them free from spiritual oppression. Let them see that the chains that have bound them fallen away and that the dungeon door is open. Help them find freedom, joy, peace, power, and healing in Christ! Help them to have power over the wrong thoughts and ungodly ideas that hold them captive through Your truth and Your Spirit. How I pray that You might heal their wounds and bind up their broken hearts and let them stand firm in Christ. Let them know their worth in Christ!  Amen

 

 

 

October Is Domestic Violence Month

October is Domestic Violence Month.  1 in 4 Christian women report being in destructive marriages.  This is something that has touched my life and things desperately need to change.  We need more awareness and less silence.

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What Does The Bible Say About Destructive And Abusive Relationship?

Leslie Vernick

I receive frantic calls and e-mails each week from Christian women (and some men) who feel scared, trapped, hopeless and helpless because their most intimate relationship is abusive; verbally, physically, economically, sexually, spiritually or all of the above. The Bible has something to say about the way we treat people and as Christians we should all strive to be Biblically wise in how we handle these difficult and painful family issues.

Below are five Biblical principles that will guide your thinking about this topic.

1. Abuse is always sin. The scriptures are clear. Abuse of authority or power (even legitimate God given authority) is always sin. Abusive speech and/or behavior is never an acceptable way to communicate with someone. (Malachi 2:16-17; Psalm 11:5; Colossians 3:8,19).

2. Abuse is never an appropriate response to being provoked. In working with abusive individuals they often blame the other person. This can be especially tricky when trying to counsel couples. There is no perfect person and victims of abuse aren’t sinless. However, we must be very clear-minded that abusive behavior and/or speech is never justified, even when provoked. People provoke us all the time but we are still responsible for our response (Ephesians 4:26; Luke 6:45)

3. Biblical headship does not entitle a husband to get his own way, make all the family decisions, or to remove his wife’s right to choose. At the heart of most domestic abuse is the sinful use of power to gain control over another individual. Biblical headship is described as sacrificial servanthood, not unlimited authority and/or power. (Mark 10:42-45). Let’s not confuse terms. When a husband demands his own way or tries to dominate his wife, it’s not called biblical headship, its called selfishness, and abuse of power. (See, for example, Deuteronomy 13; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34:2-4 for God’s rebuke of the leaders of Israel for their self-centered and abusive shepherding of God’s flock.)

4. Unrepentant sin always damages relationships and sometimes people. Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2-5) and from one another (Proverbs 17:9). It is unrealistic and unbiblical to believe that you can continue healthy fellowship with someone who repeatedly sins against you when there is no repentance and no change. We are impacted in every way. (See Proverbs 1:15; 14:7; 21:28; 22:24; 1 Corinthians 15:33).

5. God’s purpose is to deliver the abused. We are to be champions of the oppressed and abused. God hates the abuse of power and the sin of injustice. (Psalm 5,7,10,140; 2 Corinthians 11:20; Acts 14:5-6.

What’s next? How should we respond when we know abuse is happening to someone?

We must never close our eyes to the sin of injustice or the abuse of power, whether it is in a home, a church, a work setting or a community or country (Micah 6:8). The apostle Paul encountered some spiritually abusive leaders and did not put up with it. (2 Corinthians 11:20). Please don’t be passive when you encounter abuse.

However, because we too are sinners, we are all tempted to react to abusive behavior with a sinful response of our own. The apostle Paul cautions us not to be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

Below are five (5) biblical guidelines that will help you respond to the evil of abuse with good.

1. It is good to protect yourself from violent people. David fled King Saul when he was violent toward him. The angel of the Lord warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with Jesus because Herod was trying to kill him. Paul escaped from those who sought to stone him. We must help people to get safe and stay safe when they are in abusive relationships. This is not only good for her and her children, it is good for her abusive partner. If you are not experienced in developing a safety plan and assessing for lethality (often women are more at risk when they leave an abusive partner), refer or consult with someone who is knowledgeable in this area (Proverbs 27:12).

2. It is good to expose the abuser. Secrets are deadly, especially when there is abuse in a home. Bringing the deeds of darkness to light is the only way to get help for both the victim and the abuser. If you are working with a couple and notice that the woman defers to her husband, regularly looks to him before she answers, blames herself for all their conflicts, speak with them separately. (Proverbs 29:1; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20). If you are a victim of an abusive relationship, it is not sinful to tell, it is good to expose the hidden deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). Biblical love is always action directed towards the best interest of the beloved, even when it is difficult or involves sacrifice (1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 3:13).

3. It is good not to allow someone to continue to sin against you. It is not only good for the abused person to stop being a victim, it is good for the abuser to stop being a victimizer. It is it is in the abuser’s best interests to repent and to change. (Matthew 18:15-17; James 5:19-20).

4. It is good to stop enabling and to let the violent person experience the consequences of his/her sinful behavior. One of life’s greatest teachers is consequences. God says what we sow, we reap (Galatians 6:7) A person who repeatedly uses violence at home does so because he gets away with it. Don’t allow that to continue. (Proverbs 19:19). God has put civil authorities in place to protect victims of abuse. (Romans 13:1-5) The apostle Paul appealed to the Roman government when he was being mistreated. (Acts 22:24-29). We should encourage victims to do likewise.

5. It is good to wait and see the fruits of repentance before initiating reconciliation. Sin damages relationships. Repeated sin separates people. Although we are called to unconditional forgiveness, the bible does not teach unconditional relationship with everyone nor unconditional reconciliation with a person who continues to mistreat us.

Although Joseph forgave his brothers, he did not initiate a reconciliation of the relationships until he saw that they had a heart change. (See Genesis 42-45.)

Biblical repentance is not simply feeling sorry (2 Corinthians 7:8-12). Repentance requires a change in direction. When we put pressure someone to reconcile a marital relationship with an abusive partner before they have seen some significant change in behavior and attitude we can put them in harm’s way. We have sometimes valued the sanctity of marriage over the emotional, physical, and spiritual safety of the individuals in it.

The apostle Paul encourages us to distance ourselves from other believers who are sinning and refuse correction. (See 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15).

A person cannot discern whether a heart change has taken place without adequate time. Words don’t demonstrate repentance, changed behaviors over time does. (Matthew 7:20; 1 Corinthians 4:20)

As Christians we have the mandate and the responsibility to be champions of peace. Dr. Martin Luther King said “In the end what hurt the most was not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

In honor of victims of domestic abuse who need wise help, please forward this article to other Christian leaders who may need to learn how to see domestic abuse through the lens of the Scriptures.

Emotional Abuse In Christian Marriages

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Today will be a little departure for me, this is something that I feel passionate about. I have experienced this in my own marriage.  Emotional abuse is rampant in our society, and Christians unfortunately are not immune. While all emotionally abusive relationships exact a toll on their victims, this type of domestic abuse within marriage is particularly destructive.

I love watching marriages that reflect Christ and the Church: husbands lovingly leading their homes and wives lovingly submitting to their husbands. It is such a beautiful sight to behold!  It truly warms my heart to see real life examples, especially at a time when marriages are being attacked from pornography,  abuse and cohabitation. I’ve also seen broken marriages and emotionally abusive relationships, including my own which has taught me a lot.

The women I’ve met, including myself, thru my support groups and speaking engagements believed in submitting to their husbands and tried hard to do so. They all share the following characteristics;  they began to change negatively without knowing it. They begin to isolate themselves. They begin to question themselves, in some way taking on the blame. They start to make excuses for their husbands’ sins.  And begin to question themselves and their sanity.

When I think of marriage, “protection” is one of the concepts that comes to mind. Perhaps that’s why emotional abuse, or any kind of abuse for that matter, in marriage saddens me in a deep and profound way.

My desire is that God might use this blog post to encourage those who are weary and heavy laden, that you are not alone.  To challenge those who are not trusting God or seeking counsel for their emotionally abusive relationships.

In searching the scriptures, the Bible doesn’t use the label “emotional abuse,” but it does prohibit it. First, we are not to curse people who have been created in the image of God (James 3:9). I often wonder if these christian men ever think about the fact that the one they are abusing, thru intimidation and constant yelling is Gods beloved child!  Second, emotional abuse violates the two greatest commandments: love God and love others as yourself (Matthew 22:35-40). Third, emotional abuse violates God’s design for marriage where the husband lovingly leads and the wife lovingly submits (Ephesians 5:21-33). Fourth, it violates Christian living by denying yourself (Mark 8:34) and speaking wholesome words (Ephesians 4:29). Fifth, it displays pride and a lack of fear of God, which leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:18). A husband who commits emotional abuse deceives himself to be a king who deserves glory, honor, and praise. Sixth, emotional abuse is betrayal to God and people by trying to be like God and deceiving others.

The definition of emotional abuse is control. Emotional abuse occurs when someone tries to control you through actions or words. They might not physically hurt you, but believe me they know how to instill fear through intimidation and manipulation. If emotions are produced by your evaluations or perceptions,  then emotional abuse involves hurting how you view yourself and others. Over time, you negatively view yourself. You might question yourself, blame yourself, or not see the severity of the situation. You become weary, trying to please your husband’s unreasonable demands but rarely is he ever pleased.

Emotional abuse is more much deceitful than physical abuse. When you’ve endured emotional abuse for years most of the time no one knows about it. It is not uncommon that your friends and church members don’t even know until you finally decide to share with them. Most of the time they are shocked, because this usually happens either when you chose to separate or ask for help (Of course, the same could happen with physical abuse.) Make no mistake emotional abuse is unacceptable and sinful. It is slowly killing a person. It is also not the same as occasional arguments in marriage; it occurs frequently and deliberately.

Manipulation/hypocrisy. This sin is revealed in different ways:  Which is a big part of the problem, people tend to not believe the wife.  why?  Because the husband tends to be a different person in front of church leaders and friends.  He knows how to blame his wife.  They will often cry in counseling sessions and convince the pastor or friends they are the victim.  Then, everything that the wife has shared in the past carries little weight.  After all he cried.  Then what happens is the wife begins to trust people less and less. The husband meets with other family and friends to win them over.  Commonly, the husband will say the wife is exaggerating or blowing things out of proportion or fabricate a whole different narrative to protect himself. At the same time the wife tends to minimize the problem.  Another problem is well meaning friends will say “Every marriage has it’s problems”, not realizing or understanding the real problems.

It is not uncommon for emotional abuse to lead to physical abuse, so please seek help and counseling as soon as possible. You might think that emotional abuse would not happen in Christian marriages, but unfortunately, I’ve seen cases where the husband was a church leader. Don’t keep it private.  You may think your spouse will change or if you are obedient he will not get angry.  Be very careful with this thinking.  In a real way, it deceives you to think that you are in control of the situation, which you are not.

Sometimes, church leaders are either deceived (by your spouse) have little knowledge on how to handle the problem or don’t want to get involved in messy problems. Don’t give up until you find a godly person who knows how to help.

Important: Pray for your spouse’s repentance. If the spouse is not saved, pray for his salvation. Pray that God would protect your heart from anger and bitterness.

I know only to well just how hurtful it is when family, friends, and church leaders don’t believe you or desert you, but God knows the truth. You can rest in His care and know that vengeance belongs to Him.

He is faithful. He is all-knowing. He will never desert you!

Please remember when someone shares about any kind of abuse with you, know that a lot of courage and trust was involved. Be careful of shattering that! Most likely, this person is vulnerable and fearful and somewhat shell shocked. As I often tell people, good intentions are not enough. I’ve seen friends get involved by meeting with the husband and then they are left more confused.

One woman said to me: “If God allowed this pain to happen so that my husband might know Christ, then it was worth it.” She also recognized that God used the trial to draw her closer to Him. It’s easier to submit to a loving leader in the home, but to love a husband who constantly questions you, belittles you, and lies to you is a powerful display of faith in God.

To preserve the victim’s health and sanity and safety, sometimes a “therapeutic separation” is necessary. A “therapeutic separation” gives the victim time to heal and hopefully “creates a crisis” in the life of the abuser. It forces him to face the destructive nature of his behavior and gives him an opportunity to seek help. The ultimate goal of this type of separation is healing—for the victim, the abuser and the marriage.

Sometimes—and despite our best efforts—separation and divorce are unavoidable (as in my case). Other times, couples restore their relationship.

No matter what happens in your marriage, continued to draw closer to God.  God can rescue marriages. In fact, God loves picking up broken pieces and molding them back together again. He’s in the healing business. But sometimes the thing that He wants to heal is YOU, not your marriage. So chase after God now, and focus on God, not just on your marriage. And then, no matter what happens, you will find yourself stronger and able to stand firm.  It may seem hopeless, but it’s not. There is a way out. There is hope.

As you consider your options for obtaining professional assistance, it’s important to understand that this probably isn’t going to be a quick and easy process. Abuse is usually rooted in deeply entrenched patterns of thought and behavior, and you can’t expect to reverse those patterns in a couple of counseling sessions. While working on the problem, you may find it necessary to create a crisis by giving your husband an ultimatum. An abuser can sometimes be persuaded to make a change if their spouse has the courage to stand up for themselves and say, “I’ve had enough.” Tell him, “Either we both get counseling (separately), or I’m moving out until you’re ready to help me resolve this issue.” Separation may be what it takes to open his eyes to his behavior and to stimulate some badly needed self-examination on his part. Naturally, you’ll want to make sure that your support system is in place and that you actually have a safe place to go-the home of a friend, family member, or neighbor-before you put the matter to him in these terms. Lay your plans, line up your resources, and make your arrangements prior to packing your bags and walking out the door.

CLOSING ENCOURAGEMENTS

Invite the Holy Spirit to reveal the reality about a potentially abusive relationship. Admit you are being abused and recognize the damage it has done.

It is critical to seek support from friends, family, and, ideally, your church.

“Pastors, church leaders and church members vary in their ability to give support to women in difficult marriages,”  “Always be willing to reach out to your church for support, but remember that staff may not have the same training as professional counselors.”

Soak in God’s presence and truth. God invites us into his presence and transforms us by renewing our mind (Romans 12:2). Spend time in God’s Word, prayer, worship, and fellowship. It’s possible that because you are damaged emotionally, you are unable to spend long periods of time in prayer or study. That’s all right. Do what you can and trust God with the rest.

Forgive. Forgiveness is not denying or excusing the damage caused by abuse. We forgive because God forgave us. When we forgive, we allow God to heal us. Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. Forgive your abuser and yourself, if necessary. God will deal with everything else.

With professional help—and by following these principles, you can break the cycle of abuse in your life and begin your healing journey. As you reach out to God and others, you can experience God’s redemptive purposes in your life and become a channel of healing in the lives of others. Make Jeremiah 29:11 your mantra: “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.”

The important thing for you to know is that God LOVES you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of Jesus Christ. When you truly see yourself as created, accepted, approved and loved by God you will not allow anyone to devalue you or treat you any less than what you are ….a child of the Most High God…

May God richly bless you and keep you in his loving care!

Prayer for the Abuser

Father God, thank you for leading me to find the help that I need.  I first forgive __________ for wounding me emotionally, verbally and mentally.  I release ____________ as my first step of faith towards healing.  I know that forgiving this person releases me.  I ask you Lord to show ___________the error of their ways.  Show them how much you love them and heal their wounds so that they will no longer wound others.  I pray for everyone that is involved in this abuse ____________________, ______________________, ______________ that you will heal all of them and give wisdom and guidance to each.  Send your Holy Spirit to comfort and bring healing.  I pray that ________ will be open to going to counseling with me.  Speak to their heart and grant them the grace to do the right thing and seek help and healing, in Jesus Name, Amen

Here are some scriptures for meditation:

Psalm 34:18 (NKJV) “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.”

Psalm 51:6 (NKJV) “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.”

Psalm 139:14 (NKJV) “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.”

2 Corinthians 3:17 New International Version (NIV) “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

1 John 4:18 “Love will never invoke fear. Perfect love expels fear, particularly the fear of punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been completed through love.”

Psalm 63:3 “Your steadfast love is better than life itself, so my lips will give You all my praise.”

Romans 8:37-39 “But no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us. For I have every confidence that nothing—not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing—can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord.”

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV) “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

 

 

There Once Was A Man I Loved

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*Survivors of childhood trauma deserve all the peace and security that a loving relationship can provide. But a history of abuse or neglect can make trusting another person feel terrifying. Trying to form an intimate relationship may lead to frightening missteps and confusion.

Whether the trauma was physical, sexual, or emotional, the impact can show up in a host of relationship issues. Survivors often believe deep down that no one can really be trusted, that intimacy is dangerous, and for them, a real loving attachment is an impossible dream. Many tell themselves they are flawed, not good enough and unworthy of love. Thoughts like these can wreak havoc in relationships throughout life.

Hidden trauma from childhood sexual abuse can cause survivors to unconsciously, sabotage relationships, here is my story.

There Once Was A Man I Loved

As I sit here writing this, I stare at my computer screen and have that familiar bitter taste of the sadness and pain build up once again in the back of my throat. I take a deep breath and continue to think about my life.

There was a man I once loved, when we met we instantly had a connection, we became best friends.  His parting comment on the first night we talked will stay in my heart forever, He said “Have you ever met someone you knew was going to be your best friend for the rest of your life, it’s like when you were in kindergarten on the playground and you instantly like that one kid, well, that one kid is you”

That is when I knew for sure that my life was forever going to change.

There was a time that we shared everything with each other. We shared laughter, tears, experiences, walks, faith and traditions, good times as well as bad. We shared our most intimate secrets with each other.

It was Unedited, Trusting, Fully immersed. Unaware of what the future would bring. We created so many wonderful memories together, our walks, our trips, our talks and just experiencing life.

Smiles and laughter we shared when we were different people than we are now. When we were learning from, growing with, and just enjoying each other. Smiles we shared when we had no idea what the future held for us, but we didn’t care. We were just being us. Smiles when I picked you up after your hospital stay, when my youngest held your hand at Disneyland leading you to all her favorite rides.

And now you are you, and I am me.

There was a time when we were once strangers, then we became everything to each other, and, eventually, seemed to somehow become strangers again. A stranger, who will forever, I hope, leave a space in our hearts and our minds. One who leaves memories in the way that one leaves a carving on a tree? A carving that someday may have other memories carved over it, making it invisible. But, it will always be there, no matter how deep it becomes buried.

I became the girl who didn’t believe it would ever come crashing down, who thought we had a forever love.

Yet, one day, it did.

When it did, I felt as though I was moving from place to place, not really living but simply existing. I wish I could describe to you the pain I felt as I held back the tears all day and then finally releasing them at night. It was so hard not having you.

We broke each other’s hearts and left both our lives in ruins.

For so many reasons, I didn’t know how to say it. How could I say something that I didn’t even realize myself?  That my past abuse was clouding my judgment causing me to retreat within myself.  As easy as it was falling for you, it also terrified me, causing anxieties and deep-seated insecurities I’d long buried. I was waiting and hoping for irrefutable proof that you chose me — for you to tell me or bring me fully into your world. Making me really feel I was your one true love.  Instead, my jealousies and insecurities just caused frustration and anger.

I adored you, utterly and without reservation. My downfall was, I didn’t think you could possibly feel the same way about me. That has as much to do with me as it did with you — and everything to do with what went wrong.  Never dealing with the pain of my childhood and the truth I buried so deep inside my brain.

We still don’t know what the future will bring. Maybe someday our paths will cross again.  We will have traditions we have built with someone else and special occasions that were once only arbitrary dates on a calendar will become important. We will have photos on our phones of experiences and people we did not share.

Please believe me when I say that I let go, but I didn’t give up on you. Even though I left, I was so confused, I still loved you.  I was so deep in pain from my childhood, triggered by your behavior that I panicked and ran and hid.  Divorcing you was never an option for me. But hurting each other because we didn’t have the tools to make things right by each other wasn’t an option, either. I had to stop chasing your love and start giving it to myself and understand why I sabotage relationships — and I suspected you needed to do the same. 

I’m sorry for the ways I hurt you. I’m sorry I didn’t have the courage to say the words that weighed on my tongue for months after we separated; I should have shared with you the pain of my memories coming back and trying to make sense of what was happening to me and that it was overwhelming me. That I was having flashbacks of my father every time I looked at you in those last few months. I kept waiting for you to say these words to me. That you couldn’t live without me, that you loved me more than life itself.  That everything would be ok. I’m sorry I didn’t just ask what you really wanted and that I didn’t believe it could ever be me. I’m sorry it all fell apart. There was nothing I wanted more than to keep it — keep us — together, and I regret I didn’t have the strength in me to do more in that end, to explain my pain; I was too afraid and confused.  How where you suppose to understand when I didn’t even understand what was happening to me.

I still hate that it ended, but I’m grateful for the lessons I learned in the ending. It pushed me toward Jesus and started me on a road to healing, toward doing the work I’d never before found a reason to do, to face my past completely. To finally face the horrible truth of what my own father did to me, starting at 4 years old.  The pain was too much to face so; I buried it deep within my mind only to come crashing back at my most vulnerable time.  Caring for you the way I did showed me the places in myself that hadn’t yet healed from my childhood, the cracks I’d painted over but never really filled. Those cracks made me more fragile and vulnerable than I’d allowed anyone, especially myself, to believe. I’m filling them and healing them now.  It has taken me a long time to reconcile all that happened to me.

Unfortunately, we will fade from each other’s lives but hopefully, burn brighter in the lives we have created for ourselves with the new people we will love. The one’s that will teach us that we can find love again, and teach us to find happiness again.

We will have new smiles. Separate smiles built by separate memories. Smiles full of love and family with the people who have accepted us fully, as we have accepted them.

But, it’s true what they say: time heals all wounds. Eventually, I realized that seeing your picture didn’t sting as much, and hearing your name didn’t make me want to cry. Talking about the day you decided to divorce me didn’t make me want to die anymore and hearing about the new girl you were pursuing didn’t make me retreat inside myself.

I knew that I am getting over you when I started typing this letter. All because I had typed,” loved” in the title. As in the past, because unfortunately, that is where our story sadly belongs.  A distant memory.

So thank you for all the life lessons you have given me. Thank you for the wonderful memories, the laughter, especially in the early days.  Thank you for picking me to minister to you when you were hurting.  Thank you for making me feel special that day in Pavilions parking lot. Thank you for making me stronger. But most of all, thank you for teaching me that I am capable of loving and caring for others in need, a ministry that I am growing in today.

After all this time, and all this pain, I’m still unable to construct a wall of emotion to keep you out.  A position only you and the children share. 

It’s this knowledge that, if I learned that you were dying, I would want to come see you one last time. If you needed help and I was somehow the only one who could provide it, I would without hesitation.

I suppose there is one thing I can be proud of in all this: When I promised you I’d always love you all those years ago, I never broke my word.

Even through all the pain, You will always have a special place in my heart.

*Survivors of childhood sexual abuse do not have to allow the trauma to continue interfering with their lives. If you are a sexual abuse survivor, the first step is to talk to someone about it, either a trusted friend or a counselor. If sex abuse is threatening to destroy your relationship, you should tell your partner about it. Therapy can help you understand the patterns in your life created by the abuse, including the ways it has been affecting your relationships. Figuring these things out can set you on the path to healthy and thriving relationships.

My God Is Faithful!

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2 Thess 3:3 the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one

As I have shared my testimony with all of you, you know I have been going through a very painful divorce, that I did not want.  I also have an auto-immune system disease that is aggravated by stress.  My recent tests have revealed I have a lot of pre-cancer cells in my esophagus and stomach.  During a recent doctor’s appointment, I received a stern warning to get my stress and anxiety under control or you will die.

So, he referred me to a counselor, because of my insurance I was not able to pick who I wanted to see.  My desire was to talk to a bible teaching Christian counselor, but because I was under obligation to I made an appointment.

So, I am thinking..ok..I will go talk and see what she say’s, really wanting a Christian. Thinking a secular counselor will probably think I am crazy!  So, I walk in and she is a beautiful woman with a glow about her. She immediately say’s to me “are you a believer?” I smiled and said “yes”…she say’s “ok..great what is your walk like”? Do you have a problem relating to God as your loving Heavenly Father because of your fatherlessness and abuse issues?  “You realize at the heart of all these issues is your relationship with him.”  She continues “Peace comes to us after we have made a full surrender of everything and everyone in our lives.”  So, needless, to say the next hour and a half..was SUCH a Blessing! He is so Faithful to meet us RIGHT where we are at!! He goes before us and prepares the way, He knew I needed more than a secular counselor could offer me.  I believe he hand picked her just for me.

Then another Godly woman, a pastor’s wife I met years ago, (where my ex-husband guest spoke at in Whittier), gave me a verse out of the blue:

 “Neither do I concern myself with great matters, Nor with things too profound for me.” (Ps 131:1)

I realized through this verse, I do not have to figure out why he divorced me.  Or why he found someone else.  I just have to lean in and Trust my Heavenly Father to deliver me from my hurt and pain.  After all, He loves me more than any earthly person can!

Getting over my hurt will be a struggle, But after today,  I am excited because I know I will have Victory and wait with anticipation for what the Lord has for me!

Father, everyone and everything in my life is turned over to you for your control! Father, you know it is easier to say, then live, but I want to learn to live the lifestyle that will honor you and bless you…I want my life to bring you glory, help me, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Hallelujah and Amen.