Category Archives: Toxic Tuesday

Sex Abuse Case Puts Baptist College Trustee and MBC in Spotlight

The Church’s Mandate to Comfort and Protect For Such a Time as This

This is in response to the MBC Pathway’s Facebook page regarding media attention to SBC predator, Shawn Davies, being released from prison after serving about 12 of 20 years for molesting at least 13 victims in Missouri, Kentucky and Michigan. He was released in July 2019, and is currently living in Reeds Spring, Missouri. Years ago, police said that Pastor Mike Roy of FBC Greenwood, Missouri, allowed Davies to work around children at FBC Greenwood for about four months after they notified Roy that Davies was under investigation for molesting young boys at their church and other churches. Prior church employers did not give Davies good references. They said that he was addicted to porn and “didn’t work well with children.” As is common for predators in ministry, they find a friend or a church that chooses to believe them instead of the references, past churches, or victims. Mike Roy and the Greenwood church should have reasoned on the side of safety for vulnerable children.  

The For Such a Time as This Rally Facebook and Twitter accounts questioned the wisdom and validity of The Missouri Baptist Convention recently appointing Mike Roy as a trustee for Southwest Baptist University. MBC leadership, in my opinion, did not react kindly to the rally’s social media postings.

Some leaders in the MBC have asserted this issue was driven by an unethical media (the Baptist Press, and others, in the below reference). It appears they have purposefully leveled allegations against the For Such a Time as This Rally founder, Cheryl Summers to deflect the seriousness of the churches’ past mistake.

Let’s read what a lead detective on the case said about Roy during the investigation:

Detective Robert Leslie’s was part of the investigation and stated that Mike Roy did not fully cooperate with the police investigation.

According to Leslie, police faced setbacks in their nine-month investigation because of Roy’s unwillingness to cooperate.

“This is quite a large case,” Leslie told reporters. “We’re looking at some of these victims being victimized numerous times. I would really like some information from [Roy] in regard to this incident.”

The MBC is accusing Cheryl Summers of making false allegations against Mike Roy. The organization Cheryl founded, For Such a Time as This Rally, shared links which contained pertinent and truthful information as reported years earlier by other journalistic publications, yet somehow the links to the old articles have been spun as deceitful slander by an individual, Cheryl Summers. This is typical treatment from churches and leaders who are attempting to control the narrative. We have seen history rewritten on numerous occasions, by multiple churches and leaders, where sexual abuse cover-up is concerned.

 If you go to MBC Pathway’s Facebook page, you can see that they wrote an article last Monday saying that Cheryl brought false allegations about the Shawn Davies abuse case at FBC Greenwood. They appear as bullies by targeting Cheryl rather than acknowledging that the post was on the rally FB page and that the rally simply linked to articles from 2006 and 2007 where the lead detective investigating abuse at FBC Greenwood said that pastor Mike Roy made their job more difficult and did not cooperate. The Missouri Baptist Convention recently appointed Mike as a trustee for Southwest Baptist University which is why this case is back in the news.

Cheryl Summers spoke to Communications Director, Rob Phillips, of Missouri Baptists who confirmed that he and John Yeats read the Pathway article before it was released and he couldn’t explain why The Pathway attributed statements by police in 2006 and 2007 to Cheryl.

Here is a clip of The Missouri Baptist Convention website. How are members and attendees supposed to seriously believe abusers are being weeded out by loving, serving and caring leadership when this is how past abuse was handled by current leadership when Mike Roy was outed as a hindrance to the investigation? If Roy wasn’t willing to protect the vulnerable back then, why should he be trusted to do so now? This is a huge issue which should disqualify him. This may be part of the reason SBC membership continues to decline.

Missouri Baptists’ Website

Problems and cover-ups are part of the reason I joined the For Such a Time as This Rally the last two years. I’m grateful for Houston Chronicle journalist Robert Downen and his team who have been covering this denominational nightmare while giving victims their voice back. With the Chronicle’s Abuse of Faith coverage, and the tool of social media, the SBC’s problem is not going to fade into the background or be silenced. There are thousands of faces and voices to go with the abuses. They will not be bullied, sent away with hush money, or backed into a corner by non-disclosure agreements signed for church membership.

An open letter to the Missouri Baptist Convention,

Is it more important to lead or to listen, to strong arm or to serve? What is serving abuse survivors about?

  • It is not about saving the reputation of the abuser, predator, church, or Jesus (Jesus is secure in His reputation).
  • It is not about guarding every word said or not said.
  • It is not about preventing a lawsuit.
  • It is not about what we think or feel about an alleged abuser.
  • It is not about manipulating perception.
  • It is not about trying to maintain power dynamics. This is when wolves win and sheep lose.
  • It is not about blindly trusting the abuser. True repentance bears fruit (Matthew 3:8) and includes restitution (Luke 19:8-9, Romans 13:8-10); not necessarily reconciliation.
  • It is about eternity, people, safety, souls, healing, and salvation.
  • It is about soul care.

The main focus should be soul care.

I don’t see any such care coming from your recent allegations and articles.

Placing blame on Cheryl Summers for referencing links to professionally published articles from years past is beyond disingenuous. Its slander. Your issue is not with Cheryl Summers or the For Such a Time as This Rally; it is with the original reporters. But not really, because the journalists were painfully accurate. If Roy believed law enforcement was putting out false investigative facts, and journalists were fabricating unethical stories about him, he would have taken legal action against them at the time. He didn’t. Why? Because law enforcement was not lying. It seems to me it would have been easier for Mike Roy to say, “I’m sorry, I messed up, and I know it disqualifies me from a leadership position in ministry.”

If The Baptist News was unethical or sensationalizing the original story then the MBC would have stepped in to help Roy. It was a big story back when it happened and it garnered national attention. It was also written about in Christa Brown’s 2009 book This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang; an excellent book, well written, highly engaging, and a fast read for any SBC member who would dare to open their heart and mind to the magnitude of sexual abuse in the SBC.

Please stop wrongly applying scripture to this issue in an attempt to silence survivors and advocates. We do not need to ‘go to our brother’ to get his side of the story when we want to link to what has already been reported in local and national media outlets. We are not required to verify what was published.

Advocates are ministering soul care in the name of Jesus and walking alongside the survivors as they find purposeful living after the soul crushing sexual and spiritual abuse they endured inside and outside church building walls, by their abusers who declared everything being done to them was in name of Jesus, for His glory and purpose. Devious lies straight from the pit of hell!

I hope Missouri Baptist Convention members are reading the past articles linked to by the For Such a Time as This Rally, while recognizing the current spinning and mudslinging taking place by their MBC leadership. Members, it is time to stop believing what leadership is saying and investigate for yourselves.

As for Roy and MBC leadership, a truly repentant man would own what he did, give specific apologies, and make restitution for the harm to which he contributed. Abusers are professional liars and master manipulators who justify, deny, excuse, deflect, minimize, spiritualize, and cover-up abuse. Advocates are concerned and think we are recognizing abusive behaviors from Roy and the MBC about the Davies case.

The SBC’s decade’s old problem of cover-ups and denials are the main reason predators continue to flock to and find refuge in SBC churches, and the reason innocent children and vulnerable adults continue to be easy prey for pedophiles and sexual assault perpetrators. I don’t see your accusations as caring well for abuse survivors. It doesn’t look anything like the heart of Jesus or serving the least of these. It doesn’t beckon the little children to come to Jesus. It does look like, yet again, protecting the wolves while the sheep bleed out. Instead of dealing with the people who were complicit in mishandlings or cover-ups you are bullying those who are attempting to protect the body of Christ.

Following Jesus is not about leadership dynamics, big church attendance, the next book deal, tomorrow’s media interview, or popularity. It is about serving, having a servant’s heart by showing care to the powerless among us. When we do this we are putting God’s word into practice. We can have all the right theology in the world, but if we have not the loving heart of Jesus we are missing our calling. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love our neighbors. Do we want to be Pharisees or Jesus followers?

The world places importance on money, power, education, and pleasure. When the church becomes caught up in this we become wolves in sheep’s clothing and instead of protecting the innocent, marginalized, and oppressed we can find ourselves siding with an affluent and/or smooth talking abuser. 

Advocates and survivors love Jesus, love the word of God, and strive to put our love for others into action. We are exhausted from witnessing abusive behavior, cover-ups, and lack of training for how to handle abuse disclosures. It is taking a toll on our time and our health, yet we march on because we know Jesus placed us in this generation, to chase after Him, and to work with Him for such a time as this.

  • If you like, call the Missouri Baptist Convention and request they not place Dr. Mike Roy on the board of trustees at Southwest Baptist University. You may also request they offer an apology to Cheryl Summers. Missouri Baptist Convention (573) 636-0400.

Follow the below links to read current and past articles on the topic…

Missouri Attorney General Urged to Investigate Baptists – Word & Way (Press Conference outside the Missouri Baptist Convention headquarters at the Baptist Building in Jefferson City, Missouri)

Facebook: For Such a Time as This Rally

February 26, 2020 Statement by Cheryl Summers, founder of For Such a Time As This Rally

SBU allegations against trustee untrue

Baptist News Global: Missouri police investigate molestation by minister in Baptist church

Little Talk on Missouri’s Biggest Clergy Sex-Abuse Case

SBU HOSTS NEW TRUSTEES FOR TRAINING

SNAP: Missouri Baptist pastor sentenced to 20 years for child sex-abuse

Missouri Police Investigate Molestation by Minister in Baptist Church

2005 sex abuse case puts Baptist college trustee under lens

Emotional abuse checklist


Here is a checklist to help us determine if we might be in an emotionally abusive relationship. This is by no means a complete list, but merely questions I ask based on what I’ve survived, observed and studied.

It’s easy to brush problems aside, believe we’re over reacting or are especially sensitive, or wondering if we are the problem. We can deny the abuse just as much as the abuser denies their abusive behavior.

These are some of the less obvious signs of emotional abuse that no one outside our home will likely see. A few of the below items done with love, concern, and gentleness for the sake of understanding and being understood do not constitute abuse.

If we read this checklist and feel an ache in our heart because a few, several, or all of these negatively apply then we have elements of a toxic, destructive relationship. Please know there is help and we can find healing.

If this list applies to you, please find help so you can take good care of yourself.  Learn ways to interact with and set healthy boundaries with your angry and controlling person.

Often times when someone else names the problem or writes a list of symptoms, it’s easier to see reality.

Disclaimer: These questions can apply to men or women. I minister to abused women so I frame my questions from this basis. There are men who are abused by women. Not all men are abusers. There are many wonderful men in this world, but again, I minister to women who are being, or have been, abused.

Checklist/Questions:

  1. Is there a climate of fear of disappointing him?
  2. Do you, or the children, dread when you know he’s coming home?
  3. Does he make it clear what behavior is unacceptable, and the list is getting longer and longer?
  4. Does he make it clear how he wants the house, food, and laundry cleaned and organized?
  5. Is he consistently condescending in his tone of voice when he disagrees with you or doesn’t like something about you?
  6. Is there a sense that you have to check with him to make sure you are doing the right thing and in the right way?
  7. Do you constantly feel like an outsider in your own home?
  8. Do you feel a sense of shame around him for being different than him?
  9. Does he justify, minimize, spiritualize, or deny hurtful words or behaviors when you attempt to talk to him about them?
  10. When you try to speak logically does he treat you as if you’re unbalanced?
  11. Do you sense that he delights in (feeds off) disagreements?
  12. Does he turn love ‘off’ when he disagrees with you, is disappointed with you, or gets mad at you?
  13. Have you noticed that he never apologizes for angry outbursts or hurtful words?
  14. When you try to explain your feelings or needs does he habitually stare blankly at you, or walk away?
  15. Does he consider the house, the money, and belongings his and/or take your pay checks/earnings from you?
  16. Do you find that he has no interest in you as a person other than needing you as a wife/mother to take care of the house?
  17. Have you realized that he has no interest in your work, hobbies, talents, or outside activities?
  18. Does he want to make all the decisions for you regardless of your needs?
  19. Are your experiences, thoughts, or feelings automatically discounted and considered wrong?
  20. Do you find that you keep your thoughts and opinions to yourself because you know they won’t be considered, or that he will mock you?
  21. Does he control the family money by keeping you on a restrictive budget while he spends as much as he wants to spend?
  22. Do you find when he wants his way about something that he will keep bringing the subject up in hopes of getting you to change your mind?
  23. Does he treat you more like a child than like an adult who is equal with him?
  24. Do you feel like you’ve lost your personality, drive, talents, likes, and joy being married to him?
  25. Is your health deteriorating due to the stress in your marriage?
  26. Does he often give you the silent treatment when he’s in a bad mood or when he disagrees with you?
  27. Does he withhold words of affirmation, affection, and/or sex when he’s mad at you or disagrees with you?
  28. Does he come across as charming to people outside of your house; especially at church?
  29. Do you find extended family consistently express concern about his treatment of you?
  30. Does it seem he has unspoken rules that you’re supposed to know and obey?

If this leaves you feeling overwhelmed or sad, please find help in the margin of my website. I assure you that you can make healthy changes to protect yourself and your children while in an emotionally destructive /abusive relationship.

Click here for article: Biblical permission to leave a toxic spouse?

Look for these categories in the margin:

Articles/Videos: Other sources

Safety concerns in destructive marriages

Solutions – Hotlines – Help

Training Christian Leaders to Recognize Abusive Behaviors

I know that I don’t bring a lot to the table
Just little pieces of a broken heart
There’s days I wonder if You’ll still be faithful
Hold me together when I fall apart?
Would You remind me now of who You are?

That Your love will never change,
that there’s healing in your name
That You can take broken things,
and make them beautiful
You took my shame
And You walked out of the grave
So Your love can take broken things
and make them beautiful

I’m better off when I begin to remember
How You have met me in my deepest pain
So give me glimpses now of how You have covered
All of my heart ache, oh with all Your grace
Remind me now that You can make a way

You say that You’ll turn my weeping into dancing
Remove my sadness & cover me with joy
You say your scars are the evidence of healing
That You can make the broken beautiful

You make us beautiful, oh oh
You make us beautiful




The 2 sides of abusive men

  1. Number of people per minute who experience intimate partner violence in the U.S.: 24
  2. Number of workplace violence incidents in the U.S. annually that are the result of current or past intimate partner assaults: 18,700
  3. Number of women in the U.S. who report intimate partner violence: 1 in 4
  4. Number of women who are killed daily in the U.S. by their intimate partner: approx. 3
  5. A history of domestic abuse is a common, disturbing thread connecting the majority of America’s mass shooters. Google: mass shootings and domestic violence for more articles on the subject

For friends and extended family of domestic abusers the possibility that the person they know could be capable of having a dark side seems impossible, so they reject the idea. This amounts to rejecting the abused survivor, accusing them of lying, or implying they are crazy.

When people find two different versions of a person incompatible, they often render the other person’s view point as false.

I want to submit that both sides can be telling the truth about what they witness. There can be two sides to the story because a duplicitous personality is involved.

Let’s start by inserting some names into this picture:

Laci Denise Peterson was an American woman who was the subject of a highly publicized murder case after she disappeared while eight months pregnant with her first child. She was reportedly last seen alive on December 24, 2002. Her husband, Scott Peterson, was later convicted of murder in the first degree for her death, and in the second degree for the death of their prenatal son, Conner. Peterson is on death row at San Quentin State Prison.

Drew Walter Peterson is a retired Bolingbrook, Illinois police sergeant who was convicted in 2012 for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, a few months after their 2003 divorce. Peterson first received national publicity in 2007 when his fourth wife, Stacy Ann Cales Peterson, disappeared. Although law enforcement and Stacy Ann’s family suspect foul play, she has never been found, and Peterson has not been charged in her case.

There are currently two cases near me which are unsolved:

One involves a missing woman, Amanda Jones, who was last seen with Bryan Westfall, the alleged father of her unborn child. Bryan Westfall phoned Amanda and made arrangements to meet her on a Sunday afternoon. They met, but Amanda never returned home. Her car never left the parking lot where they met. Amanda is presumed dead and has been missing since the summer of 2005.

The second involves a woman I’ve written about many times, Lynn Messer. Lynn disappeared July 8, 2014. We now know that Lynn has been deceased the entire time and I have been told by law enforcement multiple times through the years that Kerry Messer, her husband, has not been cleared in the investigation surrounding Lynn’s death.

Disgraced former Judge Lance Mason accused of fatally stabbing estranged wife in Shaker Heights, sources say.

Yesterday, an Ohio grand jury has indicted this former trial court judge accused of fatally stabbing his ex-wife, Aisha Fraser Mason, on aggravated murder and murder charges, according to prosecutors.

He had “spent nine months in prison for beating his then-wife in front of their children.” The system utterly failed this woman and her children; as it fails many women. This time he murdered her when he was returning the children to her.

There are so many things to say about the Judge Lance Mason case…such as the friend of the couple who says of the abuser/murderer, “He really loved those girls though.” No, no, no! Any man who loves his children will love or, at the very least, respect their mother. Abuse and murder bear no resemblance to love for anyone other than himself.

Chris Watts, a Colorado father accused of murdering his pregnant wife and two children in August pleaded guilty to nine related felony crimes Tuesday during a court appearance in Weld County. I previously wrote about Shanann Watts and this case here, here, and here.

A timeline can be found here…

Larry Nassar was a pedophilic offender the outside world refused to believe was an abuser. Despite numerous young girls telling countless adults, over two decades, in detail, how Larry Nassar was abusing them, the girls were not believed. Why? Because people at work and in the community thought Larry was such a nice guy…a terrific guy…a helpful neighbor, and that the girls were lucky to have him. “Nassar’s cumulative criminal acts of sexual assault were the basis of the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal, in which he was accused of molesting at least 250 girls and young women and 1 young man including a number of well-known Olympic gymnasts, dating as far back as 1992.”

November 20, 2018, Thomas Bruce, 53, entered a St. Louis, Missouri, Catholic Supply store where he ordered female customers to remove their clothing. He committed sexual assault and murdered a woman. He was charged with first-degree murder, eight counts of armed criminal action, three counts of first-degree sodomy or attempted sodomy, three counts of first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary and tampering with physical evidence in felony prosecution. No prior arrest record. According to a church official at a St. Louis-area Calvary Chapel, Bruce was the minister of a Calvary Chapel in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, about a decade ago.

For the above men who were found guilty, I’m sure that friends and extended family members had a difficult time believing in their guilt.

“We would rather believe a reassuring lie than an utterly inconvenient and disturbing truth.” Diane Langberg, PhD

Women disappearing or being murdered by an intimate partner happens multiple times a day around the globe. Other times, men who commit crimes outside of the home are domestic abusers in their home.

I’m not saying with certainty that all the above mentioned men are guilty of wrong doing in the disappearance or death of these women; although I know family members of the missing or deceased women have strong opinions on the subject. The point I’m making is that people outside the family often know the nice side of a person and refuse to understand how a seemingly nice guy could be responsible for such dark acts of violence.

Of all the people I’ve talked with over the years a common thread runs through stories of abuse. The parents of the abuser usually refuse to believe the truth. And if they know the truth, many take it to the grave with them. It’s rare to find a parent of an adult child/abuser who admits to the faults or failures of their child.

The outsiders looking in want to know how a person could be so vile. Were all his good acts just a pretense? Was his ministry a farce? What about all the times he was kind, the times he was hysterically funny, the times he helped us, and the times he prayed for us? What about all the souls he led to the Lord? He seemed so professional. How can he be evil? So, they don’t believe there is a dark side to the alleged abuser or murderer.

To the family the abuser can be angry, controlling, rigid, isolating, with holding, and verbally, emotionally, sexually, reproductively, financially, and/or spiritually abusive.

Do not think, “Well, at least he didn’t hit her.” Yes, he did. He just didn’t use his fists. Diane Langberg, PhD

Please understand that abusers can be all these bad things and more to their loved one or their victim, while being kind and thoughtful to others. They can be both. Some people admire him while others are repulsed by him. Decency and depravity can exist in the same person. Conceding to one does not mean rejecting the other. It doesn’t mean everything we always thought about them was a lie. It means we weren’t with them every minute of their life. We never know what goes on in someone else’s home. We never know if an individual lives a double life.

Like Jesus, we need to come from a place of love; not a place of inconvenience or disbelief when considering accusations of abuse.

Remember: Abusers are word spinners who tell half-truths and justify their behavior. When the woman is divulging the abuse and the man explains, justifies, minimizes, spiritualizes, and denies the severity of what she is describing; you are looking at the number one sign of dealing with an abuser; denial. They are wolves in sheep’s’ clothing. They do not change for the better, but rather adjust their game so as to not get caught by outsiders; especially not caught by Christians or church members.

I learned from my experience and from women I minister to that men with personality disorders tend to gain energy supply from upping their game. It’s as if they are daring someone to catch them at the abuse; whatever from it may be. Many of these men tend to think they are more intelligent than those around them and they enjoy boldly doing something outrageous in front of others because they know no one will ever believe they are actually committing an act so mean or dark. Healthy people tend to think, “surely he didn’t just do or say that.” Believe your eyes and trust your instincts. Heed the intuition in your spirit.

When you sit with a griever, your work is to be with him where he is, not drag him out where you are more comfortable. Diane Langberg, PhD

“How to handle a marginalized person’s or abuse victim’s anger:

1. Sit quietly 2. Listen carefully 3. When they are done, say “You didn’t deserve that and I’m sorry.” 4. If they start talking again, refer to step 1.” Mandy Nicole, First of Her Name

All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in court. Arrests and charges are merely accusations by law enforcement until, and unless, a suspect is convicted of a crime.

Toxic Tuesday: Emotional Roller Coaster

 

DMV awareness month

 

Today we will look at the duplicitous personality; the nice version and the destructive version of the angry and controlling partner. I refer to living in this type of relationship as a roller coaster ride because it starts out smooth and gradual, but once we arrive at the top and see the drop we know it’s going to take away our breath; in a bad way. For those of us who thrill over a fun amusement park roller coaster; we know the emotional roller coaster is not a ride of choice or enjoyment. Just when we think the ride is calm Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smalland safe, and we are enjoying the cool breeze blowing through our hair; it goes through a dark cave, down a steep drop, rotates us upside down, or takes us for a cork-screw dive.

This is life when living with an abusive personality. They are nice one moment; argumentative, angry, controlling, withholding, or some toxic quality the next moment, hour, or day.

Please hear me, you are not crazy. You are not confused. You are however most likely exhausted and in need of validation, encouragement, and truth. 

It can take months or years of living with an abuser for a victim to realize that the nice, charming, or caring version of the abuser is in fact an act; a show, and is a phase of the abuse.

If we pay close attention we will come to find cycles in the abuse. It might go something like this:

Phase 1. Nice and engages in conversation or activities. (The ‘Honeymoon’ phase).

Phase 2. Discontent if they can’t control an aspect of the relationship with us. (Experts call this the tension building phase).

Phase 3. Turns to rage when they have no tolerance for our ability to make our own decisions, have an opinion, or perform a task differently than how they believe it should be done. They may withhold affection, attention, sex, or words of affirmation. They may verbally shred us, or become physically abusive. (Experts call this the incident or acute explosion phase).

Phase 4. They may give us the silent treatment for days, weeks, or months. They are in denial of their attitude/personality problems and place all blame on us.

These phases are not representative of a onetime relationship cycle, but of a continual cycling, phases 1 through 4…over and over.

Cycle of abuse (tension, incident, reconciliation, calm) was a term coined by Lenore E. Walker.

When we apologize or attempt to appease an abuser they will often interact more peacefully with us, but it isn’t real. The reason they show kindness is because they believe our apology or appeasement is an acknowledgment that they are right, we are wrong, and we deserved their abusive treatment.

They want us to believe:

  1. The kind version is the real them.
  2. When tensions rise and abuse takes place; it’s the victim’s fault.

They want to trick us and tangle us in their web of deception. They desperately want us to believe these lies; after all, it’s their unhealthy truth; their toxic reality.

They will use their justifications and deceit to discredit the victim should she decide to disclose the abuse.

Remember: Abusers look like everyone else. You can’t pick them out of a crowd or spot them by looking in their eyes. They come from all walks of life. They can work in the secular world or minister in faith communities.

 

“Those who are labeled as brilliant/godly/successful are accorded power simply by virtue of their reputation. They can walk into a room and because of their reputation people give their words/actions a certain weight or power. We assume such powers indicate character. They do not!” ~Diane Langberg, PhD

 

Abusers do not care for others as a soul with worth; they care about their own power and control. Do not believe for one second that we have the ability to influence the abuser’s behavior, or that anything we do will change the way they treat us. This thought has landed many women in the depths of depression, and has led to the murderous death of others at the hands of their abusers.

Domestic violence rates are on the rise. If you are unsure of your safety, or lack thereof, please click on the “Mosaic” threat assessment in the margin of this website.

 “Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.” Proverbs 23:9

 “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” Proverbs 26:11

“Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.” Proverbs 27:3

“Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding them like grain with a pestle, you will not remove their folly from them.” Proverbs 27:22

 

 

“Fighting Words”

Fear is like a broken record, same old songs of accusation play
Like, “who are you to speak the truth, just look at all your failures and mistakes”
And “If they really knew you, there’s no way they could love you anyway”
Oh-oh-ohh, but I will…

Fight the lies with the truth, oh-ohh
Keep my eyes fixed on You
I will sing the truth into the dark
I will use my fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh, fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh

The enemy keeps talking, telling me to hide my face in shame
Whispering that everything I’ve done will drive the Father’s love away
Saying, “It’s too late for hoping, that something in your heart could ever change”
Oh-oh-ohh, so I will…

Fight the lies with the truth, oh-ohh
Keep my eyes fixed on You
I will sing the truth into the dark
I will use my fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh, fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh

My debt is paid up
I’ve been set free and
You gave Your life up to rescue me
You say that I am
Worth fighting for and
Grace is like waves that keep crashing on the shore!

Fight, the lies with the truth, oh-oh-ohh
Keep my eyes fixed on You
I will sing the truth into the dark
I will use my fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh, fighting words
Oh-oh-ohh…

I’m so tired of forgetting what I’m worth
So I will use, my fighting words

 

Toxic Tuesday: Traumatic bonding

tell your story

Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard small

 

 

Abuse comes in many forms and knows no boundaries. 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse during her lifetime and more than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year.

*Men can also be the victim of abuse, but my ministry is mainly to women so I address my readers from this viewpoint.

 

Traumatic bonding

 

Yes, it can happen in Christian marriages.

You dated. He showed healthy amounts of charm, tenderness, attention, affection, gift-giving and/or selflessness; perhaps even through shared Bible study, prayer, and attending Christian events together.

After much prayer you decided to marry him only to find out after saying, “I do” that he was fraudulent on many levels during the dating phase.

The years have passed and his anger, control, rigidness, and lack of attention and affection have chipped away, piece by piece, at the love, trust, and respect you originally had for him.

His withholding and passive aggressive personality (or fill in the blank with his toxic behavior) consistently remind you that you aren’t enough for him, you don’t please him, and he is punishing you for not being the object of his desire.

I mean object as in a possession; a possession to sit on the shelf and take down to use when he has a need. A need for a companion at a social function, a listening ear to hear how his day at work went, a person to clean the house, do the laundry, run errands, prepare meals, keep up with the yard, and care for his kids (yes, I know they are your children too, but most angry and controlling men don’t like to share their property, and often view the kids as theirs). Women come face to face with this truth when they try to divorce an angry and controlling man. You likely aren’t viewed as a human with worth and value other than being viewed as a mom; the mom of his children. You are a thing, a mom; not a person with dignity, wants, and needs.

I hear comments and questions such as:

·         “I know what he’s done to me, but I still have feelings for him.”

·         “Why do I still love him?”

·         “Why do I still long to be intimate with him?”

·         “Why do I cave-in to him every time he flashes a smile my way? I know he doesn’t mean it.”

·         “I find myself wondering if he was really that bad or if I made it up or over reacted.”

·         “My heart and mind can’t reconcile how normal he looks with his anger and abuse. I think I must be crazy…then I read my journal and remember I’m not crazy and I’m not making it up.”

·         After they have left: “I don’t know why I feel this way, but I want him back.”

·         “I must be crazy because I miss him.”

·         After he’s cheated: “I don’t make sense even to myself. He cheated and is likely abusing her…but I’m jealous and heartbroken that he left me.”

 

I’ve had women ask me why they still have feelings for the man they live with when he isn’t capable of unconditionally loving them.

The answer might be traumatic bonding.

Traumatic bonding, also known as Stockholm syndrome because it contains many of the same elements as Stockholm syndrome, “occurs in abusive relationships which are characterized by an imbalance of power, high intensity, and an unpredictable atmosphere, rapidly shifting between periods of cruelty and tenderness. Traumatic bonds can form very quickly and last long past when the relationship is severed.” –Bree Bonchay, LCSW, http://www.freefromtoxic.com

Add to this that abusers aren’t angry and controlling 100% of the time. Sometimes they are loving, gentle, and humorous; perhaps even capable of compassion and empathy.

Traumatic bonding/Stockholm syndrome does not occur in every abusive situation.

Abused women testify to a common fact surrounding emotional abuse, also known as psychological or narcissistic abuse.  Emotional abuse and the health crisis they experience from the abuse remains longer than the physical abuse they suffered.

When we are physically abused we know at the moment it is wrong and hurtful. Not so with emotional abuse. By the time we figure out we aren’t the problem and there isn’t anything we can do to appease the abuser; damage has already been done.  

Emotional abuse involves patterns of anger, control, dominance, manipulation, coercion, mind games, gas lighting, criticism, threats, and withholding. Over time it erodes our self-esteem, identity, and judgment. It can leave us feeling dead inside.

You are not alone.

 

In the margin of this website you will find help on safety issues, solid Bible teaching and free counseling videos on the subject of abuse and toxic relationships by Christ-centered counselors.  There are also links so church staff/leadership can receive training to combat domestic abuse taking place in their church body.

Andy Savage Sexual Abuse Resignation: A necessary decision

In case you missed earlier headlines about Andy Savage here is a recap.

Andy Savage was the teaching pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN. A Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smallstudent from his youth group twenty years ago came forward and publicly named him as having sexually assaulted her years ago. The assault took place when she attended the church where Andy Savage was on staff. Andy said it was, “A mutually organic experience.” She was an underage high school student. He was an adult on staff. These two facts can’t add up to a mutually organic experience. This was the first time I’ve heard an abuser use this terminology.

I wrote more about this back in January. Read: 14 points the church needs to hear in the wake of the Andy Savage sexual assault case.

Is Andy Savage’s resignation over due? Yes!

Has he acknowledged wrong doing and accepted full blame? Yes and no. He has admitted wrong, admitted he poorly handled telling his church, and admitted to making mistakes, but is still spinning some wording and phrasing.

Has he admitted that he committed a crime? No!

Has anything good come of this? Yes.

Highpoint Church had an independent investigation performed and although they didn’t say exactly what all the conclusions were, they did agree that Andy Savage’s resignation was the correct decision.

We can be sure at least one church will do a better job safeguarding their flock. Hopefully, many churches are learning from example, instead of having to take a field trip to learn the lesson first hand. I hope another lesson learned is that is it never appropriate to give a standing ovation after someone divulges sin, abuse, or a crime.

I’m thankful for the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements. I know it makes many people cringe, but abuse survivors are not among them. I understand that ignoring the abuse or taking the side of the abuser is easier. This requires that you do nothing; see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Victims want you to share the burden of the pain they have experienced. They need validation. This will require action, engagement, and remembering.

“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” ― Augustine of Hippo

Jules Woodson, the victim, has received hate filled messages from some of Andy’s supporters. I hope they all write her a heart-felt apology. She had every right to come forward, but that is a whole other topic. She was brave and courageous, and victims of church abuse everywhere can be thankful she spoke, and thankful it led to Andy Savage’s resignation.

I did notice that Andy Savage said he is stepping away from ministry; not leaving the ministry. He needs to leave full-time Christian ministry where he would have leadership access in any capacity.

I understand that Andy Savage’s family will now suffer the consequences of choices he made and continued to make. It isn’t fair to them. This is why we must be purposeful raising our children while helping them understand that their sin never effects only them. It has immediate and lasting results and usually impacts those around them.

Most importantly, I pray the church is listening, remembering, and acting on allegations of abuse as soon as it’s reported. Regardless of what you think, know, believe, or feel the only correct course of action is to imediately call the authorities and allow them to investigate and sort it out. 

Statements are available here… READ: Investigation Conclusion, Update from Highpoint Church, and Update from Andy Savage

I’m in favor of changing state laws to take the statute of limitations away for sex crimes; and making the new law retro active.

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Change statute of limitations for sex crimes against children/use prior assault evidence

TOXIC POLICY

This is in response to the Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted in court last month for molesting patients for years. 

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Thank you to the victims of these terrible crimes for using your trauma and pain for a great purpose that will serve future abuse victims.

Thank you, Rachael Denhollander, for using your talent to pursue justice. Sometimes it takes a wronged female attorney to change public policy and maintain a voice with which to be reckoned. I applaud you, thank you, and pray for you. By the way: your husband totally rocks for the powerful way he has publicly supported you and cheered you on through all of this. (I follow him on Twitter).

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos orders investigation of MSU’s handling of Nassar sex-abuse cases

 

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is dispatching a team of civil rights investigators to Michigan State University to examine how the school handled allegations against former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted of molesting patients for years.

“This new Title IX investigation will look at systemic issues in the University’s handling of sex-based incidents involving Dr. Larry Nassar,” DeVos said in a statement Monday.

Image: Betsy DeVos
Betsy DeVos, United States Secretary of Education, speak at CPAC on Feb. 22, 2018. Michael Brochstein / LightRocket via Getty Images

The federal probe is only the latest for MSU, which is under investigation by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and a congressional committee. It also faces dozens of lawsuits that allege it ignored reports and warning signs about Nassar’s predation going back to 1997.

DeVos’ announcement came hours before some of Nassar’s victims gathered in Lansing, Michigan, for a news conference on new state legislation prompted by the case. The bills would change the statute of limitations for sexual crimes against children, expand the class of people who must report claims of sexual abuse to law enforcement, and allow prosecutors to use evidence of prior assaults at trial.

“We are learning activism creates action,” said Olympic gold medalist Jordyn Wieber, who revealed last month that Nassar preyed upon her.

 

Continue reading the entire article here:  Education Secretary Betsy DeVos orders investigation of MSU’s handling of Nassar sex-abuse cases

 

Rachael Denhollander top of page: photo credit; Twitter public profile picture

 

 

 

 

 

In the wake of infidelity (Helping the victim)

Last night as you sobbed your heart to your Heavenly Daddy

He pieced you back together, dusted you off, and woke you

To fresh mercies this morning.

You made it through another day.

Never let anyone tell you what your brave should look like

How you should act or respond.

This is how you heal. One hard fought day at a time.

In your weakness He is strong.

This is how you mend your broken.  

 

This I have learned from my own life traumas.

I also learned what a woman needs most from her friends in the middle of her shocking news…that her husband is being unfaithful is for a friend to listen. Affirm her, acknowledge her pain, pray for her. As in…lay your hands on her shoulders, or hold her hands, and pray over her in person. Pray over her home; room by room. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  James 5:16b

She simply needs to process her thoughts out loud. There is something about talking to a friend that makes it real; not some crazy notion in your head. It’s healing. Validate her pain.

I understand that this may be uncomfortable, it may emotionally upset you. Yep, it will! Christ has called us to get messy and show empathy and love to those in need. Scripture tells us, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”  (I John 3:17) I believe the same principle applies here. To see your sister’s hurt but have no pity, how can the love of God be in that person?

If you think listening to her is taking sides and may jeopardize your friendship with the husband; think again. To not take sides shows the perpetrator and the victim that you have chosen sides.  We must take the side of the oppressed. Neutrality shows the oppressor you are on their side.

Here is another nugget of wisdom. Unfaithfulness is always the responsibility of the unfaithful. They had opportunity to say no. They had the power to change their circumstance. They had abundant choices for wise counsel; for help before it was too late.

You can be friends with both at the same time. One calls for tender love; the other calls for tough love. Don’t think you’re getting caught in a triangular relationship where you’re betraying trust. If you feel caught in between with he said, she said; make it clear to him that he needs to be honest with his wife. Say something like this, “I want to make sure that you understand you need to be honest with your wife in all aspects of your marriage which includes not withholding information. I’m concerned that you are showing me another area of your life where you are not disclosing the truth to your wife. For your good, and the good of your family, I need to call out the deceptions.”

Why? Matthew 18:15 applies, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” Most importantly, the goal is to bring them to repentance and reconciliation if possible.

“It’s a poverty when God’s words are watered down for the sake of being culturally sensitive, in the name of comforting others or not being offensive. His absolute truth is by nature going to offend because it requires of us change. Perhaps more scary, it requires us to do nothing but ACCEPT His grace and the promise of salvation — we CANNOT earn it! We can sooo love others to Jesus without backing down. Confronting wrong is NOT the same as pointing unkind judgmental fingers. After all, Jesus saved His most pointed comments for those who should KNOW BETTER, not for the unsaved. He loved them, but gently and firmly said, “Go and sin no more.” He DID NOT say, “That’s not really sin if you really want to do this.” Cindy Sigler Dagnan 9/14/2014

Repentance is not God’s way of condescendingly reminding us of our sin, failures and mistakes. Quite the opposite. It is our chance to approach Him, and through repentance receive forgiveness, healing, power, wisdom and blessing. Repentance is a beautiful gift. God does not dole out punishments, although there may be natural consequences, but instead gives good gifts to those seeking His heart and will.

I have also found that people are forgiving when they see repentance that leads to fruit. In other words; you will be known by your actions and not just your words. 

“Above all, love each other deeply,

because love covers over a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8

Ideas for practical help

  • A restaurant gift card,  or freezer meal, for a day when she is having a difficult time functioning.
  • A gift certificate for a massage. Physical touch can help release loads of stress.
  • Offer to watch the kids while she has a counseling appointment, attorney appointment, or doctor appointment.
  • Offer to help her clean her house. She will appreciate the company and conversation as much as the help.
  • Stop by, or invite her over, for coffee or tea. Your house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean. It’s likely she will cherish the grace of your realness over tidiness.
  • Create a playlist of music to minister to her in her trauma.
  • Call and pray for her over the phone.
  • Lend a listening ear in a judgement free zone.
  • Send a note of encouragement with a scripture you are praying over her.

I’m afraid of the space where you suffer
Where you sit in the smoke and the burn
I can’t handle the choke or the danger

Of my own foolish, inadequate words
I’ll be right outside if you need me
Right outside

What can I bring to your fire?
Shall I sing while the roof is coming down?
Can I hold you while the flames grow higher,
Shall I brave the heat and come close with you now?
Can I come close now?

So we left you to fight your own battle
And you buried your hope with your faith
‘Cause you heard no song of deliverance
There on the nights that followed the wake
We never thought to go with you
Afraid to ask

What can I bring to your fire?
Shall I sing while the roof is coming down?
Can I hold you while the flames grow higher,
Shall I brave the heat and come close with you now?
Can I come close now?

Lay down our plans
Lay down the sure-fire fix
Grief’s gonna stay awhile,
There is no cure for this
We watch for return,
We speak what we’ve heard
We sit together, in the burn

What can I bring to your fire?
Shall I sing while the roof is coming down?
Can I hold you while the flames grow higher,
Shall I brave the heat and come close with you now?
Can I come close now?

Domestic Abuse: 5 Biblical principles & 5 guidelines

October is Domestic Violence awareness month. I’m aware that DM is alive and well; which includes in the church.

I currently have 30 Christian women in my county who I advocate for in person and/or Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smallon the phone, and for whom I pray. Many times they just need to be listened to and validated.  I can report that only 2 of these women have churches who believe them and stand by them. Most churches want the couple to come in and meet with the pastor so he can get a feel for what is going on and if abuse is truly taking place. Couples counseling DOES NOT WORK for a destructive, abusive marriage. The abuser will sit and lie his way through the session; denying or justifying the problems while acting the part of a loving, tender, and godly husband.  This is why the woman is not believed. (I also know abused men who have gone to their church leadership, but were not believed. Since I minister mainly to women I state women throughout my blog.)

Leslie Vernick is a Christian and biblical counselor who has spent years in the trenches teaching women in destructive and abusive marriages how to reclaim their voice and strength. Now she is helping first responders (church leadership) so they can correctly apply scripture when a woman in an abusive relationship approaches them for help. To do this, church leadership needs to respond to the abused and the abuser. How? It’s not difficult if you have the proper training, but sadly most pastors, church leadership, and even Christian counselors do not have a background in spotting and dealing with domestic abuse. Leslie provides the opportunity for church leadership to fill this void and provide hope and help those seeking it.

Please remember; abuse is not a marriage problem—it is an abuse problem. The abuser needs private counseling and serious, firm accountability

 

What Does The Bible Say About Destructive And Abusive Relationships?

 

Leslie Vernick receives 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.

Leslie Vernick, Author

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 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 Scripture.

 

Many Christian counselors, pastors, and lay leaders are still woefully ill-equipped to handle this very important issue despite 1 in 4 Christian women reporting being in a destructive marriage. Leslie Vernick invites you to visit her new website that she designed to educate and equip pastors, counselors and church leaders on this very important topic.

 

Toxic Tuesday: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

3 Ways To Spot A Wolf In Sheep ‘s Clothing 

Leslie Vernick 

“One of the ways bank tellers and merchants learn to distinguish real money from counterfeit is by examining genuine $100 bills over and over again so that they are more wolf 4likely to spot the counterfeit bills when they see them. In the same way we can learn to recognize destructive people by knowing what to look for.

Some may object to any attempt to identify wolves among us because it sounds uncharitable and judgmental to call someone a wolf. Only Jesus knows a person’s heart so who are we to judge? Yet, Jesus himself warns us that there are those who claim to be believers, they may even be leaders in the church, but they are vicious or ravenous wolves dressed up in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15).

The apostle Paul warns Timothy that there will be people who act religious, but are puffed up with pride, who are unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, and cruel (2 Timothy 3:2-9). Part of spiritual maturity is gaining the ability to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). Why is this necessary? Because Paul reminds us that even Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Evil pretends to be good.

wolf 3Sometimes we make a naive assumption and it gets us into terrible trouble. We assume that if someone claims to be a Christian and talks like a Christian, that means he or she is a Christian. That’s not true.

Just like there are counterfeit $100 bills that attempt to pass for the real thing, there are those among us who attempt to pass for Christians but underneath they are ravenous wolves. How do we tell the difference?

Jesus said by their fruit you will know them. A wolf can be an expert at talking like a Christian but when you observe his or her behaviors over time, they look more wolfish (aggressive). As the saying goes, the sweetest tongue often has the sharpest tooth. Here are three things to watch out for.

1. Wolves live for the love of power rather than the power of love. Wolves refuse accountability and resist submission to authority. You’ve heard the phrase lone wolf? Wolves in sheep’s clothing have themselves as their highest point of reference. They often use charisma and charm to “win” people over but they do not have mutual or reciprocal relationships. People are to be used, possessed, exploited or controlled rather than loved.

2. Wolves look like sheep and talk like sheep but they bite like wolves, especially when the sheep are disagreeing or dissenting. Winning and being right are their highest values and they do whatever they need to in order to stay “on top”. wolf

When operating in church or religious settings their methods are often underhanded and cunning to seem less obvious or aggressive. They don’t want to look like wolves, that’s why they pretend to be sheep.

3. Wolves are experts at deceit. That’s why they are so successful at making us think they are true sheep. Jesus tells us that Satan, too, is an expert at deceit. That’s why he doesn’t go around with horns and a tail but as an angel of light.

Wolves pretend to be good and to care about the sheep but those closest to them (especially their family) know the truth. They’ve been bitten again and again and again.

But the wolf’s ability to maintain his cover is one reason why it’s so difficult for church people to believe the person who has been wounded by the wolf. They fail to see him as a wolf and assume that the problem is two sheep biting one another.

That’s not true. Wolves have much sharper teeth and stronger jaws than sheep do. A sheep cannot harm a wolf. A wolf kills sheep.

It’s interesting that God chose a wolf as a word picture to portray this type of problem person. A wolf is a predator. It has a strong jaw and 42 sharp teeth designed to stab its prey to death.

As Christian counselors and leaders, let’s not naively close our eyes and think that there are no wolves among us. They are everywhere and we must learn to recognize and stop them from wounding and killing the sheep.”

“The Church has been rather slow to acknowledge the validity of emotional abuse, especially in marriage – and real change can only start if pastors, lay leaders and other counselors start to see the reality that many people face.” ~Leslie Vernick

Counselor Leslie Vernick has made it her “mission to bravely stand up for those who suffer in the shadows.” Her “heart is more and more heavy to help churches know how to competently and compassionately help those in destructive marriages.”

I believe Leslie to be the best of the best in the field of ministering to spouses in abusive marriages. She recognizes abusers and helps the person on the receiving end of the abuse set boundaries, maintain safety, stay committed to truth, remain open to the Holy Spirit, be responsible for their self and respectful toward others without dishonoring their self, and practice empathy and compassion while setting boundaries.

With this in mind Leslie has started a web-based ministry to counselors, pastors, and church leaders. This makes the task of learning about marital abuse/domestic violence reachable for anyone who wants to learn. Because…there are wolves in every congregation.  Almost all counseling centers on communication issues between two people; when in some cases the problem is abuse. Abuse is not a marriage problem. Abuse is an abuse problem—a character problem, and the abuser needs individual help; not marriage counseling. (This applies for marriage, extended family relationships, or non-family relationships. Abuse is abuse; not a communication problem.)

Leslie has numerous free articles and video resources available; as well as, the opportunity to sign up for more resources. If you are in ministry this is a must have area of continued education you should consider. I highly recommend in today’s culture that anyone who works in church leadership should have training in this area.  Click here to check out Leslie’s web-site: Leslie Vernick: Training Church Leaders and Counselors in Abuse.

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My Toxic Marriage

NPD 16

A recent Toxic Tuesday post, How to Love a Woman In a Destructive Marriage, detailed how to respond to a friend who confides in you about abuse taking place in her home.

Unfortunately for some women—friends, family, and church members don’t believe her story. After all, many abusers are wonderful at playing the devoted victim! I believe this is true because many abusers suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and consider themselves special. They are not held to the same standards, morals, or laws as the general population. Even when caught, if they admit to doing it, they insist it is not who they are. It’s a twisted mind for sure!

After nine years in my own destructive marriage I finally told my parents, and my husband’s and my ministry adviser, what had been going on in my home since shortly after I said, “I do.” No one was surprised. The adviser told me that he had believed for some time now that my husband was mentally ill but he hadn’t said anything to me since he didn’t know if I was aware or if I would believe him.

Why did I take so long to tell? you may be asking.

Good Christian women don’t tell.

Good wives don’t talk poorly about their husbands. You never tell your family because that will incite them to not like him—and they might encourage you to leave him. We are taught at Bible college, in the church and by godly older women that we never speak poorly of our husbands; especially when you are in the ministry—which we were.

We are to encourage our husbands, respect our husbands, forgive them, pray for them, hope in them, help them, and make love a daily action even when we don’t feel like it. Be intentional about how we respond in love; not frustration or anger. Don’t dwell on the negative; concentrate on the good parts. Be the one to set the tone for the atmosphere in your home to keep it positive and productive. Let go of pride.

Don’t compare your marriage to anyone else’s marriage. Don’t compare your attitude or actions to his. Pray that God will change your heart and through that, improve the difficulties in your marriage.

Care, adore, smile, kiss passionately, forgive, forgive again, be gracious, listen, compliment him, comfort him, and be content. Stay…always stay the course—it WILL pay off. It will!  It does not matter how you feel; what matters is how you respond. With God, all things are possible!

Here is the catch—God gives us free choice and your spouse has a choice in the outcome. The above does not apply in an abusive marriage or a marriage plagued with unfaithfulness.

Through the advice of our adviser I confided in one local friend, a long distance friend who would help our adviser confront my husband in hope of reconciliation and healing; as well as, tell a friend/spiritual leader of ours and our advisers from a former ministry who was very concerned about my marriage, concerned about my husband, concerned about me and wanted the very best for my daughter. It wasn’t easy telling a single detail. I didn’t know if they would believe me, tell on me to my husband, or walk away from the relationship.

Two of these close friends who knew all the ugly details of the abuse and walked the road with me for a time after telling them of my destructive, abusive, and unsafe marriage, still attempted to silence me from speaking truth and achieving safety. I can’t speak for what their heart motive was; perhaps my truth made them uncomfortable. Did it hit too close to home? Was the evil, messed up truth about my spouse unbelievable? Had the narcissist won them over? Was legalism involved?

One of my friends told me, “I’ve prayed about this and God will remove his hand of protection from you if you go through with this divorce. You are taking yourself and your daughter out from underneath God’s covering, blessing, provision and protection. You are not supposed to do this and you will be sinning against God if you go through with it.”

I thanked her for her concern and told her I would pray about it more before finalizing the paperwork; however, I had only taken these measures after prolonged prayer, in depth Bible study, extensive counseling, and out of obedience to the Lord. I felt like God had held my hand while I skimmed the surface of hell begging my husband to return to me. He refused. In fact, during our time of a therapeutic separation when he was supposed to be seeking professional help and healing so our family could be reconciled; he instead took a preaching ministry and moved away. Because after all, God had called him to preach first and foremost and he was following God’s calling on His life. Good-bye to his wife and daughter—we were in the way of his career. I had spent the last two years refusing to seek another ministry because he needed spiritual guidance and serious professional emotional, psychological and psychiatric help. He decided to no longer wait for my permission; he left and moved on without me.

The other friend, George (name changed to protect his identity), whose own wife was delivered from an abusive marriage through the death of the abuser (first husband), wrote me an email after I gave him the latest report I received from my husband’s psychiatrist. I received discouraging news at every psychologist’s, neuro-psychologist’s and psychiatrist’s appointment I attended with him. But on this given day I heard the final blow that sealed the fate of reconciliation.

Unfaithfulness I had forgiven and mental-illness and a personality disorder I could live with if he would acknowledge it and seek help and stay on his medications but hearing, “He has started down the slippery slope of pedophilia from which there is no return” was the death blow.  I knew our daughter would never be safe. Before this day I kept thinking he had mental illness and a personality disorder with an addiction to pornography. I hoped that with help he could get better.

My optimism for my husband’s healing was over. I asked the doctor a few questions and sought clarity but the doctor was clear, serious, and gave me his professional opinion about my daughter’s safety.

George had asked to be kept updated on doctor appointments, progress and prayer needs but the pedophilia information proved to be, unbeknownst to  me, the last straw. Here is the reply I received via email:

Carolyn-

I understand that life has been difficult for you. But please don’t make it more so by continually pleading your case in the court of public opinion. Whenever I hear from you it is a constant stream of bashing your husband. I’ve not said anything before, but now I must. Your husband is my friend. I know he is not perfect, but then again neither are you or I. It’s almost as if you’ve been building a case against him ever since the first hint of problems last year. Your husband has always been different. Always. He was when we were in college. He was when you fell in love with him and married him. He is now. He could make us laugh like no one else. His nice guy looks and golden vocal cords along with his love for God and the church made him a joy to be around. All he ever wanted was to succeed for God. That dream appears to be a long shot now. But give him some dignity. Stop confessing his sins for him. You said in the email that you have been able to help some women whose husbands have left them, as if that is your situation.  Carolyn…he didn’t leave you.

If you made a mistake marrying him, say, “I made a mistake. I left him because I couldn’t take him.” Don’t write husband bashing emails. What good is that doing??? Are people lining ups saying, “Poor Carolyn,” and that’s helping you? If so, then something’s wrong there.

In love (for all three of you),

George

To this day I cannot imagine how I could have made it through this time in life without my godly ministry adviser and his wife.

Sobbing, I called them and asked if I had been inappropriate with the details I had given about my marriage and my husband’s issues. They said I had not been and then asked me to read the email from George.

After hearing George’s reply they recommended I stop all contact with him; immediately. They were dumbfounded at how he could feel this way after seeing and hearing first hand, my husband’s delusional and irrational behavior and his denial of needing help for his problems, mental illness, and personality disorder. All they could guess was that the classic textbook narcissist had struck again; a professional liar and actor who had won over another pawn in his game.

As for, “His love for God and the church made him a joy to be around,” investigators from three different law enforcement agencies have contacted me through the years investigating allegations of child sexual abuse by my ex-husband. All these investigators have said they believe his pedophilia goes back to his teen years and that he purposefully chose the ministry as a way to access child victims from a place of trusted leadership; pastor. The investigators also believe the list of child victims is well into the hundreds but because he targets very young children, who are mostly too young to tell, he stayed under the radar. Until summer 2014…his reign of terror was over.

No, my husband did not file the separation papers, I did; but make no mistake…he was the one who left in every way except for the paperwork. For him to file the papers would potentially ruin any hope of his future in ministry and preaching. He HAD to be portrayed as the victim.

Had I listened to George and my other local friend, my daughter and I would most likely be dead; at the very least we would have been further abused with my daughter suffering the greatest through it.

God allowed, encouraged, and provided a way out of this marriage along with Biblical grounds for divorce.

I hope this testimony brings awareness to women who desperately need help, friendship, and love while they seek safety and support during an unsafe and/or difficult marriage.

Be a blessing. Pray scripture over them; in person. Offer to watch their children so they can see a Christian counselor, run an errand, or just need an hour to be alone. Invite them over for lunch. Take their children to the park for an hour. Give her a gift certificate for a massage. Drop a bag of groceries at the door. Or head over to Give Her Wings ministry website to find out how you can help. There is a , “Books we like” tab for suggestions on books that would make a great gift for a hurting wife, and it would be one way you could show her you understand and care.

You could not plan for this
No, there was no silhouette
Up against the pink horizon
To warn you of the hit
But you absorbed it all with grace
Like a child you spoke of faith unmoved
That holds onto you

This thing is going to try to break you
But it doesn’t have to
You’re showing us how
This thing is going to bend and shape you
But He won’t let it take you/You know it somehow
This thing is not going to break you

You could take your loss
You could hide away from us
With your grief lassoed around you
But you’re laying it in the sun
And you stare straight into the light
You say you’d rather go blind than look away
What can I say?

This thing is going to try to break you
But it doesn’t have to
You’re showing us how
This thing is going to bend and shape you
But He won’t let it take you
You know it somehow
This thing is not going to break you
This thing is not going to break you
This thing is not going to break you

Toxic Tuesday: The Great Porn Experiment

Porn alters the brain: Bad news

If/when you stop using porn the brain can heal over time: Good news.

I’ve seen this TEDx lecture by Gary Wilson circulating over the last month and every time I think, “I’ll post this on my blog”. Today is the day.

When discussing sensitive topics I like to give a warning: This could be a trigger for different people in different ways. For the abused it could trigger painful thoughts or body memories. For the porn user it could trigger temptation.

There is a brief picture of women in bikinis at one point in the lecture/video.

I hope that every person who has access to the internet watches this video because Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smallsooner or later porn will likely rock your world. Porn is everywhere; especially soft-core, and it’s impossible to not have it turn up somewhere before your eyes. It’s not impossible to look away. Watch this video for clarification as to why we must look away and teach our children the importance in doing the same.

 

6 Things Personality Disordered People Do

personality

What do you do when you attempt to understand and be understood by someone with a personality disorder? (narcissistic, borderline, or obsessive compulsive personality disorder) but you’re stonewalled from the onset?

What do you do when you can’t have a conversation because they begin with trying to protect their lies to you and about you, and maintaining their abusive behavior toward you?

Remember: It’s not their fault.

1) They refuse responsibility.  (This is the #1 sign of an abuser. They never accept responsibility; and therefore, never apologize.)

2) They lie.

3) They look down on you.

4) They slander your reputation.

5) They are duplicative (phony).

6) They project (mirror their abuse on to you as if you are the one who committed it).

Abuse is never their fault.  It’s always your fault. Someone’s fault. To them, it’s not their Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smallfault they hurt or abused you, it’s your fault for being hurt-able…abusable. If your feelings are hurt it’s your fault – for having feelings. You may be told you’re making the choice to feel bad, or hurt, or that you’re being overly sensitive.  If caught doing something insensitive or selfish, they will insist they have no idea what you’re talking about. Or they will mirror the truth of what they did back on you. Crazymaking at its best—gaslighting.  In their mind they had to do it because of someone or something else. If you imply that anything is their responsibility, they give you excuses, lies, and/or denial. From their perspective, you shouldn’t care — you should be willing to put the past behind you and pick-up as if the abuse never happened.

This may sound like a good idea; putting the past in the past. Not bringing it up again and allowing the relationship to continue on as if nothing happened, or with the forgiveness to forget and go on.

Forgiveness in our heart is always healing for the abused person but that doesn’t mean we extend the forgiveness to the abuser in word or deed. If they haven’t confessed, repented, and asked for your forgiveness then God does not require you to verbally extend the forgiveness to them.

Here is the problem with forgiving or forgetting without an apology and a change of heart from the person with narcissistic personality disorder (borderline, or obsessive compulsive personality disorder)…it is the same as telling them: “I’m okay with the way your treat me, the way you lie about me—the way you abuse me. You may continue this treatment and I will continue to allow it.”

You may need to change the dynamics of how you interact with this type of person. Remember: Abuse is not a relationship problem, a communication problem, or a marriage problem. It is an abuse/sin problem. For this reason victims should not receive counseling with their abuser; not even in marriage. The abuser needs serious, long-term, professional help for their abusive nature so they can find the root of it, receive healing, and gain freedom.

 

This is what ANA (After Narcisistic Abuse) has to say about this subject in regard to a narcissist:

“Many mentally disordered individuals project frequently. Narcissists, however, are some of the most actively and severely projecting people encountered. Ever full of accusations and criticisms, the most crazy-making thing about most of the narcissist’s claims is that YOU are doing exactly what THEY are doing. (Projection.) Have they just lied to you? Well, you’re about to be called dishonest. Are they cheating you out of an opportunity? You’re going to get the finger pointed at you for being sneaky. And you can’t say a word to them about something hurtful they have done, because that makes you an abuser – of them. You can’t give them anything but glowing feedback without their raging at you, but you’ll be the one constantly criticized severely and then called freakishly oversensitive if you show any feelings about it. And if they say so, it’s law — you don’t know what you’re talking about.

If you dare to question a narcissist or request things like healthy boundaries and honesty, you’re going to become public enemy number one. The “Mr. or Ms. Wonderful” mask immediately comes off, and there is no level they will not stoop to in order to “punish” you. They have myriad ways of attempting this; some are covert, and some are open and obvious. The narcissist has a seemingly inexhaustible obsession for making people who cross them “pay”. Once they set their sights on you, you’re a permanent enemy, and their seething spite will feel as intense years down the road as it did when it first began. The length of time they can keep up the full intensity of their hatred for you and their campaign to exact revenge is absolutely dumbfounding to non-narcissistic people.”

If you have a personality disorder, or are in a relationship with someone who suffers from a personality disorder you will likely need ongoing, professional counseling at some point.

My motto is: Wise people; strong  people seek help.

Counseling/therapy is not for “crazy” people. Counseling is for human beings. Don’t let anyone shame you away from receiving the help you need.

See: Solutions-Hotlines-Help, or Articles/Videos: Other Sources in the margin, header or footer of this blog (depending on which digital platform you use).

Toxic Tuesday: Lysa TerKeurst’s Betrayal

My heart aches for Lysa.Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard small

I suspected this for several months. The  times I listened to Lysa in Bible studies or on pod casts over the last year I wondered if this was the difficult circumstance she was living in of which she couldn’t speak. There are some things so profoundly deep and traumatic that when you hear someone else speaking with such words…your betrayed heart reaches through multi-media and feels their secret soul-hurt.

I realize publication dates precede the release of her letter. I don’t know when it happened or when she made it public, but I’m grateful she was obedient in her calling to write a book and Bible study that would help her, and help others who would go through similar circumstances.

Rejection, Heartache, and a Faithful God

No person’s rejection of me can ever exempt me from God’s love for me.

“A Gut-Honest Look at Love.” That was the title of my first blog post of this year. Based on 1 Corinthians 13, I wrote, “Love isn’t what I have the opportunity to get from this world, love is what I have the opportunity to give.

This perspective on love has been a lifeline during the most painful season and decision of my adult life. I so wish we were sitting face-to-face so you could see my tears and hear the deep grief in my voice as I share this with you. My husband, life partner and father of my children, Art TerKeurst, has been repeatedly unfaithful to me with a woman he met online, bringing an end to our marriage of almost 25 years. For the past couple of years, his life has sadly been defined by his affection for this other woman and substance abuse. I don’t share this to harm or embarrass him, but to help explain why I have decided to separate from him and pursue a divorce. God has now revealed to me that I have done all I can do and I must release him to the Savior.

Continue reading the continuation of Lisa’s letter here….

 

If you find yourself in a season traveling the same road as Lysa you may find her book “Uninvited” at Amazon or Christian Book Distributors (Book, study guide, DVD study, or Audio book)

Uninvited…

The enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than. When we allow him to speak lies through our rejection, he pickpockets our purpose. Cripples our courage. Dismantles our dreams. And blinds us to the beauty of Christ’s powerful love.

In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences with rejection—from the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father to the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over.

With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa helps readers:

    • Release the desire to fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process their hurt.
    • Know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady their soul and restore their confidence.
    • Overcome the two core fears that feed our insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging.
    • Stop feeling left out and start believing that “set apart” does not mean “set aside.”
  • End the cycle of perceived rejection by refusing to turn a small incident into a full blown issue.

 

Continue reading the continuation of Lisa’s letter here….

Toxic Tuesday: Manifesto of the Duplicitous

Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard

For those of you who believe a Christ follower, pastor, church leader, soul winner, family values proponent, or godly leader in a high position could never abuse a child, rape a woman, murder a loved one, or steal from the church…have you read the Bible? The heart is deceitful above all things. Spiritually saved or unsaved humanity is capable of the darkest offenses.

Here is an excerpt of a letter from an individual who was previously in a position of authority, leadership and influence over, unknown to them, a toxic character. Of this corrupted personality the above mentioned leader wrote:  “He…

“…was duplicitous and deceptive, living a double life, disconnected from reality, certainly from spiritual reality.”

Here are the personal values of the Jekyll and Hyde described in the above quote. A soul in a bottomless pit of sexual addiction, a personality disorder, and mental illness.  A creature who blindly victimized the unsuspecting, the simple, the harmless and the innocent.   Who, by society’s standards, is an impostor perpetrating the vilest offenses.

This offender was hired by a church leadership which didn’t dig into the accused offender’s background. Rumors swirled but the leadership believed the offenders spin rather than doing a background check. Because of the church leadership’s lack of integrity to protect their flock innocent children were harmed.

This manifesto was penned to prove sincere devotion to God, to the ex-spouse, to the church, and to show they were healed and worthy of trust, respect, forgiveness and reconciliation.

  1. The economy of this nation depends on my acceptance of personal responsibility.
  2. I will seek to understand and empathize with others.
  3. My family is this nation’s citizenship.
  4. My family and friends are carefully selected allies with whom I have agreed to never war against.
  5. My happiness is not my first goal. Meeting my responsibilities is.
  6. True happiness is found in maintaining and growing in my relationships with God and others.
  7. I must daily be reminded that faith, decency and honor are the highest virtues of man.
  8. A poorly kept house is the first sign of danger: it is the thing most found in slums.
  9. Depression is a state of mind that wrecks the economy — not the reverse.
  10. Appreciation for nature and the arts are essential to maintaining health and centeredness.
  11. God is my First Love; my family and friends come second; I am third.
  12. I must gain independence before I can become interdependent with others.
  13. My attitudes, moods, and expressions must always be a reflection of God’s grace.
  14. God is Sovereign over the affairs of this and every life.
  15. ln every conflict and in every war — whether found from without or from within …is a Iust for what one hasn’t. May the passion of my heart, mind, soul, and strength be to love God completely; and my neighbor as myself.
  16. Faith, Hope, and Love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
  17. lf I bring anything of value, and pour it into the lives of others during my lifetime, may it all be of eternal value and for the good — not of taxing pain nor hurt by telling lies, victimizing others, nor of a pursuit for my own selfish gain and ambition.
  18. l am saved by Grace through Faith … my focus is not, nor can it be, on my righteousness for I have none. My focus is on Jesus Christ – the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He alone is the Righteousness of God, Who is received by Faith, reflected by Obedience, and revealed in Love.
  19. Although I have inherited a sinful nature, I am not captive to it. I have died to sin, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. He is my Hope of Glory.
  20. My life is a constant effort to remove idols and to tear down barriers. The television is my most visible idol and enemy.
  21. My daily regiment must include physical, mental, emotional, vocational, and most of all, spiritual exercise.
  22. Every meal should be eaten at the table.
  23. The windows should not be covered while the master is home. Light must be allowed to pour in.
  24. I will laugh and entertain with a clean sense of humor.
  25. Monotone fails to inspire … l will use effective and sincere inflections to motivate, challenge, and uplift others.
  26. l am committed to sexual and otherwise moral purity and excellence.
  27.  l will seek revival and restoration daily through confession, repentance and recommitment.
  28.  l will surrender my anger, frustrations, anxieties, and struggles to God daily.
  29.  I am a living sacrifice, not conforming to the world, but being transformed by the renewing of my mind.
  30.  Not a cent should be spent without giving thought to paying off every debt and investing for the future; however, it is acceptable to feed the birds on occasion.
  31.  The house and grounds are to reflect excellence and beauty – the canvass for a creative mind.
  32.  I am not an abuser who robs others of joy, but a gift-giver who offers all of myself to feed the souls of others consistently and in such a way that grows far beyond myself to touch lives within a darkened world in a very special, illuminating way.
  33.  Early to bed and early to rise, as a flexible rule.
  34.  My heart will not be allowed to grow cold, nor my conscience to be hardened. But I will maintain a sensitivity to things of beauty and a love for the Divine.
  35.  l will maintain a strong defense and readiness for personal or civil action as needs demand.
  36.  ‘The former ways” — even if only idealistic — are still to be desired over all others.
  37.  I will speak up and take a stand, even when unpopular, for the right.
  38.  I love my God, my family, His church, and the United States of America, and will honor, respect, and remember those who are older and wiser – and those who have gone before us.
  39.  The Bible will be open and visible in my home.
  40.  All I have is the Lord’s.
  41.  Verbal prayers will proceed every meal and will be said at the beginning and end of every day.
  42.  I will share my faith and the Gospel message with someone every day.
  43.  I will offer tithes and offerings, as God provides, to His storehouse, the Church.
  44.  l will not limit God by my unbelief but will seek to discover and fulfill His will for my life and for the lives of those entrusted to my care.
  45.  I will remember that humility honors God and welcomes His blessing.
  46.  I will remember that God seeks a bold, not weak faith in His ability rather than my own.
  47.  I will remember that Jesus died for the sins of the entire world, not just for those in my tiny little circle.
  48.  l will remember holy days – birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrations.
  49.  I will maintain and build upon close and distant past and present friendships.
  50.  Only Jesus can erase sin and hold it no longer to my account: yet it is my responsibility to perform the ongoing ministry of reconciliation – that of healing and re-uniting broken relationships.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In light of innocent victims; numbers 15, 17, 23 and 32 are the most disturbing to me. Number 32 is off the charts unhealthy and twisted when considered in the context of predator and victim.

15.  ln every conflict and in every war — whether found from without or from within…is a Iust for what one hasn’t. May the passion of my heart, mind, soul, and strength be to love God completely; and my neighbor as myself.

17.   lf I bring anything of value, and pour it into the lives of others during my lifetime, may it all be of eternal value and for the good — not of taxing pain nor hurt by telling lies, victimizing others, nor of a pursuit for my own selfish gain and ambition.

23.  The windows should not be covered while the master is home. Light must be allowed to pour in.

32.   I am not an abuser who robs others of joy, but a gift-giver who offers all of myself to feed the souls of others consistently and in such a way that grows far beyond myself to touch lives within a darkened world in a very special, illuminating way.

I share this as a wake-up call to those in positions of leadership; especially within the church. If someone hands you a value statement similar to this; it may be time to pursue professional help for them.

The power of prayer and the courage of little ‘David’ voices against their Goliath put an end to this reign of ‘gift-giving’ and ‘illuminating’ abuse.