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 Penalty For Abusing Authority

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The headlines are bursting with stories about people in positions of authority who have turned a blind eye when it comes to protecting someone under their care—failing to do the right thing—the very thing their occupation demands. Teachers having inappropriate relations with students, politicians sexually harassing young girls and pastors falling in sin.  Husbands hurting their wives and children. Does looking the other way, or pleading ignorance, really exonerate someone who could do something to stop abuse yet, for political, or personal gain, does nothing?

All is not well in this world. Husbands are hurting wives, Teachers are predators, politicians are predators, despite their political affiliation, church workers are predators precisely because we allow them to be. Victims stay silent (it’s normal for a victim to wait decades before they share because of fear, threats, and shame), and when they expose the predators, they are then berated, unbelieved, and marginalized. And yet, I see this great kingdom of God advancing in precisely the opposite way, with the weak ones, the broken, overlooked.

Certainly, as Christians, we struggle with the reality that everywhere we turn there seems to be a moral battle raging and, at times, it may seem hopeless, to stem the tide of evil. With the media onslaught of moral corruption pervading our world, it’s little wonder we have become desensitized and almost ambivalent to the moral failures of those who are in charge, some of these men are members of the very churches we attend.  But, can we adequately plead “not guilty” if we do nothing?

This made me start thinking about someone, long ago, who took the easy way out defense too. He was the high priest, he was the only one who was permitted to meet yearly at the mercy seat with God. His sole ministry was to represent Christ—who intercedes for the sins of his people. Yet, within Eli’s own family, a dark secret was lurking. He heard the rumors but, somehow, he failed to muster the courage to stop the evil. Why? What could he possibly offer as an adequate excuse for allowing such heinous sins to be committed on his watch, within his own church, and by his own sons? He had a choice to make and he chose to do nothing. Sound familiar?

Years pass by and God appears to be silent. He sent a warning message and now He waits to see what His servant will do. I’m sure the Spirit was pleading for this reluctant father to correct the evil course of his sons, but to no avail.  Finally, in a very unexpected manner, the message comes. When Eli has procrastinated too long, God speaks.

The Bible tells us, “The Lord came and stood there, calling… “Samuel, Samuel.” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10)  The message God spoke to Samuel that night long ago has similar implications for us today! Are we listening? If so, are we willing to say, “Speak, for we are listening”?

God had previously warned Eli about the sins of his sons and what would happen if he failed to check their sins. “The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your father’s house, …you will see distress in my dwelling.” (1 Samuel 2:31-32)  Do we stand firm in protest of evil or, like Eli, do our sympathetic actions toward a fallen minister, teacher, husband or politician counteract our ability to adequately protest their iniquities?

What could possibly be so wicked that it forced God to deal with Eli and his sons so harshly? It was the same sin that is destroying many in authoritarian positions today. “Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.” (1 Samuel 2:22 ) Not only was the sacrifice disgraced and polluted, the personal lives of the priests—the very ones who were to be godly examples of holiness—were defiled with sexual immorality and abuse.  Sound familiar?

Can a minister, teacher, husband or politician who willfully chooses to destroy precious lives under his care simply excuse his actions as “a fall from grace”? Obviously, we know people make serious mistakes.  But this is on a deeper level.

And today, thousands of years later, there are those who still fail in their responsibility to protect those vulnerable under their leadership and care. When a transgression of this nature takes place, those who refuse to correct the evil done by a person of authority are guilty of the same sinful neglect to God’s heritage as was Eli.

It is time for pastors to believe the women who come to them seeking help from their abusive husbands.  To admonish and impose must needed church discipline. To believe the children that come forward about the teachers who have taken advantage of them.  To believe the small child that is being hurt by a parent.

It’s time we Christians, with sound mind and deep conviction, call predators and abusers out within the church. It’s time we stop tolerating any kind of abuse, stop looking the other way hoping things will improve. The statistics prove that predators and abusers typically continue to offend until they’re caught.   Our inaction, then, allows for more abuse.  We need to wake up and take this seriously!

Are we as Christians becoming desensitized by sins leavening effect—precious souls are being violated everyday.  I sat with a young women of 15 last week, who had been involved sexually with a teacher.  This poor child had tried to commit suicide from the shame and confusion.  I have to think that this teacher, who claimed to be a christian is just as guilt as Eli’s sons.

Recently in Papillion, Nebraska, a high school band teacher, Mike Pollock, was accused of sending inappropriate text messages to a former student. After his resignation, a spokesperson for the school stated that what Mr. Pollock had done was  “…not just a violation by that one teacher, but it’s a violation of the entire profession.” If the secular community can see how important the reputation of all teachers are, and that such actions committed by one destroy the reputation of everyone in that profession, certainly the church is in desperate need of true reformation when it comes to how we deal with a fallen christian.

All who hold positions of sacred trust and, like Eli, knowingly fail to take a stand against the abusive actions of leaders under their charge, will have to face serious consequences for neglecting their responsibility to guard the flock under their care.

Take heart, those who have been preyed on. The light is shining brightly, and the web of lies will be exposed.

Thankfully, there is still time and mercy still pleads with our hearts. The signs around us loudly proclaim judgment is soon to be executed upon this earth. We, like Eli, have been given a message of warning. God is still waiting to see if we will correct our errors, retrace our steps, and implement justice before He executes judgment. If we fail to heed Heaven’s admonition, we too will pass beyond the line where mercy will no longer be able to reach our ears. Sadly, God will ultimately say to us what He said to Eli, “…I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’” (1 Samuel 3:14 )

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

 

 

 

Use My Ugly Past And Turn It Into Something Beautiful, Lord

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I think we all (hopefully) have a tender side with a sense of empathy and compassion. Our hearts break for others when we see them in unfortunate circumstances, like the Las vegas shooting or the hurricanes.  Seeing a friend lose a child or other family member too soon, and you can’t help but feel compassion and empathy for that person. You send notes, make phone calls, send flowers, send money, you do anything in your power to help.

The question is, what about when it happens to those you don’t know? So many times, our passion is fierce and burns deeply when someone who is close to you struggles even slightly, but we can often find it easy to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to those in desperation on the other side of the world.

The Lord has a very interesting way of revealing our calling in life. I had no idea that when I started writing my blog that a national coalition on assisting victims of rape/sexual assault and domestic abuse, would reach out to me and ask me to help with their cause.  This would also, be my biggest heartbreak to date. My counseling, support groups and writing was reaching many people and I started receiving a lot of  emails from women hurting, struggling and feeling hopeless. I was shocked at how many women were touched by domestic abuse in particular.

My prayer:

Dear Lord, please break my heart for what break yours.

I started saying this prayer shortly after my divorce. I was looking for His direction in my life.  I was searching for a purpose. It was a year in the wilderness with lots of  questions and confusion and lots of prayer.

I started to ask the Lord what was my calling in life?  What direction do you want me to go?  Should I focus on helping others?  I had one thing going for me; my passion was clear. I wanted to help people find hope through their abuse, sexual assault and rape. Since I am a survivor of all of these, I thought What the Enemy Intends for Evil, God Will Use for Good.  I did not want my life of suffering to be in vain, I wanted to be able to come along side women and be able to cry with them.  I wanted to help usher in their healing through Jesus Christ.  I wanted to be someone to break the stigma and help end the shame of rape/sexual assault and domestic abuse.  To raise awareness in the church and anywhere else I am needed.

I wanted people to see what real healing looks like. I wanted people to realize healing and hope is possible. The question was “how?” I needed direction. Should I go back to school to get my counseling degree. Should I get a job in a treatment facility? Should I write a book? These questions were never-ending.

He is Faithful and the Lord’s purpose for my life continues to be unveiled. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Each person, whether it’s rape/sexual assault, child abuse or domestic violence is searching for answers, when they reach out to me.  It is a part of my road map directing me in an exciting purpose driven direction.

I didn’t set out to become an advocate. It found me, the Lord used this pain in my life as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, stalker-rape, and domestic abuse/violence.  To help change people lives.  To be His hands and His voice, and be an instrument of His glory.  To do His will in all that I say and do.

Of course, being an advocate has been shaped by the fact that I am a survivor. I am here, not by accident, but because I am a fighter. From a young age, I’ve always had a sense of justice and felt that there was something larger, and greater than me, out there for me to discover and it was Jesus Christ.  My purpose in this world, is coming along side women in crisis as victims of sexual assault and abuse. Through out my life I have always kept going, through all the heartache and pain, because of this very calling.  I felt it deep in my soul. My hope is other victims will become activists and advocates. Because I know how it has changed my life and sometimes, it can even save it.  Every-time, I counsel someone or speak to an audience about my past, I heal a little more each time.  My scars are now a badge of honor not of shame.

So, as you can see this was a powerful prayer for me that completely changed the direction of my life. If you earnestly pray this prayer, be prepared it will change your life maybe through a series of heart breaks. It’s heartbreaking in the most beautiful way. The good news is, that your purpose to help others will become very clear.   The Lord will give you a lot of divine appointments as he trains you up. My heart broke not once, not twice, but hundreds of times over the past few years.

My sincere hope is that my heart will never stop breaking for those that are still suffering. My hope is that my heart opens a little more with each heartbreak and opportunity He gives me, and He will continue to use all of my heartbreaks to guide me. My hope is that compassion fills every crack that each heartbreak leaves. My hope is that your heart will break too and your purpose to help others will become clear.

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it,when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21

So here is my challenge to you: Allow your heart to soften, allow it to truly and honestly break, and act on those feelings. That soft voice within you that wants to help is the Holy Spirit working within you. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and take a leap of faith.

Break my heart for what breaks Yours, I surrender everything I am for your kingdom – it’s a scary sort of prayer but we must pray it – our brothers and sisters need us to pray it! Don’t let the security of your world shelter you from the ugliness outside. Pull your head out from under the the rock, look around, and as your heart breaks be changed, be moved, be empowered!   Thank You Jesus for saving a sinner like me and using all my ugly past and turning it into something beautiful and precious in your sight.

If you find yourself in a difficult season right now, find encouragement through this reminder: God will turn it around for good. Somehow. He is faithful to His Word, and He Loves you. He will see you through, don’t ever doubt it. You will step out to the other side of the darkness. And who knows, but that many lives may be affected for the kingdom’s sake, because of your difficult season of struggle.

 

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.”

 

 

Our Disposable Society VS Enduring Faith

disposable society

We live in a disposable society. It’s easier to throw things out than to fix them. We even give it a name –we call it recycling.”

If something breaks, instead of trying to fix it, we just throw it away.  If a relationship with a friend becomes broken or too hard, we throw the friendship away.  If the marriage is broken, we get divorced.
Fifty years ago, people used their sewing kits and darned their socks when they got holes in them.  When appliances broke, they took them apart and fixed them.  As a child I remember when the t.v. repair man came to our house and took the back off exposing all the glass tubes inside.   When marriages were falling apart, they stuck it out until the hard times passed, in 1950’s the divorce rate was around 25%.  When God failed to answer their prayers, they clung to Him anyways knowing He was in control.
Our lack of commitment and willingness to work hard on repairing things and relationships is destroying our society.  Our children are not learning the hard lessons of endurance, instead they want instant gratification. Our landfills are becoming filled with junk.  Our children are motherless and fatherless from broken homes.  More and more people are walking away from God’s ways and doing things their own way, thinking that life will some how be better.
We live in a world of drive-through dining, instant-messaging, digital cameras with instant review, and now the cell phones are such that you can carry on a conversation with someone while surfing the internet on the phone at the same time, replacing personal face to face conversations. Let’s face it, we are the microwave generation; however, God is more like a crock pot. He doesn’t rush into anything. He knows time is sometimes the greatest teacher of all.
We desperately need to become people of hard work and commitment.  Not afraid of confrontation or hard conversations.   We need to learn to not throw things out the moment they break.  We need to learn to repair them, whether it is material things or relationships.  We need to learn to stick it out through the rough times and do things God’s ways instead of our own way, for our own instant gratification.  We need to do things the opposite way the world does and become faithful, hard-working, commitment keeping children of God.

Paul prayed that Christians might be “strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father” (Col. 1:11–12).

We are called to a life of endurance empowered by Jesus Christ, and accompanied by joyful thanksgiving. Endurance requires patience, because reward for today’s right choices will come, but it may be months or years from now, or not until we leave this world. Those who tap their fingers waiting for the microwave to finish demonstrate that patient endurance doesn’t come naturally.

We should not shrink from hardship. We should endure it with patience. We are to follow Jesus Christ from start to finish, repenting quickly of our sins and moving forward in deeper devotion. Of course, there will be dry hard times, but overall, our path of spiritual growth will steadily rise higher and higher, not trail off so our lives end in a wasted lonely whimper, filled with regrets.

I read an article today about divorce, it said a study revealed that 50 per cent of divorcees have regrets about their break-up. Researchers found that after the dust settled, 54 per cent experienced second thoughts about whether they had made the right decision, with many realizing they miss or still love their ex-partner.

Who you become will be the daily choices you make.“The path of the righteous is like the first light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until day” (Prov. 4:18). This is why Scripture continually warns us against wrong choices: “Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on your way” (Prov. 4:14–15).

After all, our choices flow out of our hearts, and therefore we must take care to guard them from becoming impure: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov. 4:23). What’s the most effective way to contaminate a water supply? Poison it at its source. If you don’t guard your heart from the world’s values, you will be conformed to the world (Rom. 12:1–2). It takes no more effort to be conformed to the world than it does to float downstream. To be transformed by the renewing of our minds is to swim upstream against the current. Renewing our minds requires conscious, deliberate effort.

Endurance is Christ’s call to follow him, to finish strong for God’s glory. There is no higher calling, no bigger privilege, no greater joy.

A popular chapter in my house is Psalm 1 a powerful formula for endurance: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”  Psalm 1 says the one who continually meditates on God’s Word “is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.” Trees don’t choose where to place themselves, but we do. We determine what our sources of nourishment will be, which in turn determine whether we bear fruit or wither.

We need to learn that Christians will face trials, difficulty, and suffering. I realize this is not a popular message.   I once had a “friend” that measured everything in his life by blessings, thinking if it was of God all would go well and if it didn’t it was not of God.  He felt that if things went wrong, someone was doing something wrong. He ended many relationships and a marriage because of this. He felt God would always provide even when he was being an unwise steward.  I always felt sorry for him, because he was missing out on learning and growing from adversity.  Enduring hardship is when the Lord is strengthening and refining us.  He never promised us an easy life.

When we read Second Timothy, we get a completely different picture, than the easy life the world desires.  Look at the many verses just in this short letter where Paul talks about either suffering or endurance.

1:8 – “be ready to suffer…” 1:12 – “I am suffering…” 1:13 – “hold on…” 2:3 – “Endure suffering…” 2:9 – “I am suffering…” 2:10 – “I am willing to endure…” 2:12 – “If we endure hardship…” 3:1 – “there will be very difficult times…” 3:10 – “You know…my endurance…” 3:11 – “I have endured…” 4:5 – “Don’t be afraid of suffering…”

Life will not always go our way. There will be suffering. Now, I do not believe that we in America are suffering anything close to what Paul or the early Christians suffered. I do not believe that we in America are suffering anywhere close to what Christians oversees are suffering, like in Muslim countries where they are being beheaded because of their faith, or in China where they are being imprisoned.  We do not experience suffering anywhere near that level. Even though there are those who want to take Christians out of the conversation, to marginalize us, we still have incredible freedoms to speak and to share Christ.

How we respond to hardships shows our character. Our children pay attention when a parent loses a job, or gets a traffic ticket, or when both parents don’t get along and get a divorce. Your neighbors and coworkers are paying attention to you. Will you be just another defeated christian, throwing your hands up in the air when life doesn’t go your way? Or will you like Paul, look at the hardship before you, determine to get through it and keep your eyes completely on Christ? It may not be easy, in fact it probably won’t be. We may not do everything perfectly or even right, but when all is said and done, I want others to be able to look at me and say, “I can’t see how anyone could go through that and still be committed to God. That is a real faith.” Others are paying attention. Will we, like Paul, endure so that others might come to know Jesus?

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith.
I Corinthians 16:13
Conclusion
Why would Paul spend so much time in this letter to his young friend talking about endurance? Why does he tell Timothy over and over, endure, endure, endure? Because hardship is a reality, it WILL happen. And all of us run the risk at some point of abandoning our faith. Our disposable society has made even faith dispensable. There is a great temptation for us to stop, to retreat, to run away, to stop believing, to give up on faith, and give up on Jesus.
Many of us like my friend, have the mindset that if we experience hardship, we must have done something wrong. Sometimes, we are the recipients of the consequences of our sin. Sometimes, as the Bible says, our loving Father disciplines us when we get off track, so that we turn back to him. But sometimes we suffer because evil exists in this world and through it we can see just what is inside us; we can see the strength of our faith. We assume that difficulty has to weaken us, to defeat us. But do you realize that the persecution of the first century church didn’t defeat them? It didn’t weaken the church. It strengthened it.
Don’t buy into the lie of the disposable society
Don’t dispose of your faith and of Jesus thinking there is a better solution. An enduring faith is one that remembers Jesus. It is through hardship and persecution that true faith is forged. You are not being judged on your accomplishments, but on your faithfulness.

 

Ministering To The Hurting

This was sent to me from a friend this morning!  Little did my friend know how timely her video and kind words were.  The Lord is so good and uses people to minister to His children when we are hurting, sending comfort through our friends.

Today, my heart hurts, I was reminded yesterday of a happy memory probably the happiest in my marriage to my ex-husband.  A friend innocently mentioned they were having dinner at an italian restaurant. It was the Italian restaurant where he presented me with a beautiful diamond ring and asked me to marry him all over again, we did not have the money for an engagement ring when he proposed the first time. It was made even more special to hear his words of love and devotion, watching him getting down on one knee while presenting me with this beautiful gift.

My heart hurts because years later he chose his fleshly desires instead of humbling himself and restoring our marriage.  He took the easy way out and divorced me instead of facing his sin.  It was an abrupt and easy way for him, but the hardest thing for me, no closure, no communication.  So, today, my heart hurts, but I know my pain is temporary and fleeting.  I have a God who loves me and will be faithful to comfort me in my pain.

You see, I have learned that There is no such thing as pointless pain in the life of the child of God. This has encouraged and strengthened me when I walk in the valleys of suffering, brokenness, and pain!

One of the reasons that suffering has value is experienced by those who can say with conviction, “I know how you feel. I’ve been in your shoes.” Suffering prepares us to minister comfort to others who are suffering.

Feeling isolated is one of the hardest parts of suffering. It can feel like you’re all alone in your pain, and that makes it so much worse. The comfort of those who have known that same pain is inexpressible. It feels like a warm blanket being draped around your soul. But in order for someone to say those powerful words—”I know just how you feel because I’ve been there”—that person had to walk through the same difficult valley first.

Suffering often develops compassion and mercy in us. I have found in my life, through this experience, those who suffer tend to have tender hearts toward others who are in pain. We can comfort others with the comfort that we have received from God (2 Cor. 1:4) because we have experienced the reality of the Holy Spirit being there for us, walking alongside us in our pain. Then we can turn around and walk alongside others in their pain, showing them the compassion that our own suffering has produced in us.

Ministering saints are very precious to God!  We have all been given the power to minister and refresh a hurting believer, as my friend did unbeknownest to her with this video and words of encouragement. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s urgings, when you suddenly think of someone, reach out to them.  Pray that the Lord will give you discernment to know when people are hurting.  Pray for divine appointments, where God can use you to minister to His people.  There is nothing better than realizing the Lord used you to comfort one of His own.

Romans 15:2 says,“We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord”