Tag Archives: Abuse

Vindication for Sexual Abuse Victims of Ravi Zacharias

background

Here is an update to two articles I published in 2017 concerning allegations and evidence of sexual misconduct of Ravi Zacharias. I believed the victim then, now, and all the time in-between, as did other abuse advocates and bloggers. Where was the rest of the Christian community?

Most people found the allegations shocking, unbelievable, and shameful, which led to public victim-shaming while Zacharias remained believed, protected, and praised. When Ravi Zacharias died in May of 2020, he was adored and memorialized by well-known celebrities, politicians, best-selling authors, celebrity pastors, and most of the evangelical community. Because I can’t police the internet, I found it safest to stay away from the world-wide-web in the days following Zacharias’ death. A person could have spent their time 24/7 setting the record straight about Ravi’s sexual sins and falsified professional credentials.

I recognized the disbelief since I’ve lived through similar jolting when I found out about my first husband’s hidden sexual addictions and abuses. Other than close friends and family, I wasn’t believed and lost all my ministry friends. Having been married to a duplicitous, conscience-seared pastor, the allegations against Zacharias were sadly, not alarming to me. Duplicitous personalities are wolves; they are not sheep. Wolves are often false converts, not Christ-followers, and evil. And yes, they can know scripture well, just as Satan knows scripture. (I don’t know what may or may not have happen on a death bed where repentance/conversion can take place).

I believed Ravi’s abuse and falsified credentials allegations as soon as I saw the evidence because I understand from personal experience dynamic speakers with dark, evil hearts. He was an entertaining speaker, and people, except for victims/survivors and advocates, remained fascinated by his great logic.

Below is a relevant Tweet by Susan Codon who is a professor and advocate standing against sexual abuse in the evangelical church and writing about her public theology of trauma.

which sin matters?

 As a national advocate for abuse victims, I can testify that predatory pastors and evangelists are commonplace in the Christian environment. Upon hearing allegations of abuse, most leaders don’t want to act or trouble themselves with making the environment safer for vulnerable sheep. We would be more likely to gain traction from Christian leadership by asking them to remove a female speaker, teacher, or pastor from a pulpit or classroom rather than acquiring assistance in reporting sexual abuse allegations, seeking justice for victims, and providing restitution for wounded souls. I’m not overstating the case. Some pastors have publicly stated that, in their view, females teaching men is a greater sin than a sexual predator or a pedophile behind the pulpit.

In my 2017 articles, the woman who was preyed upon by Zacharias and who I wrote about was Lori Anne Thompson. She and her husband were slandered by RZIM in horrific and damaging ways when the allegations and evidence were made known. Instead of being held accountable for his inappropriate and sinful phone calls, text messages, and emails, Zacharias justified, excused, deflected, minimized, and spiritualized the abuse to the RZIM board. The board believed him without using logic in light of the gospel with the heart of Christ. Then Zacharias sought legal counsel. He utilized a non-disclosure agreement to keep Lori Anne Thompson from moving forward against him with her case of predatory sexual abuse and abuse of power. Ravi’s family has not yet lifted the N.D.A. against Lori Anne despite the independent investigation report released this week.

the n.d.a.

Victims and church members in a Christian environment should not be asked to sign a release form or non-disclosure agreement. N.D.A.s should not exist in a Christ-centered environment for relational matters. It’s asking someone to lie or to remain quiet about a secret, sin, or crime. As followers of Jesus, we are to walk in the light, not hide in the dark.

Allow me to state that with conscience seared, double-minded individuals like Zacharias, it is common for them to commit abuse in plain sight. Consider the name “Touch of Hope,” which Ravi created as a “humanitarian effort on the part of RZIM to meet short term needs for long term gains.” People like this get a thrill out of telling people what they are doing behind closed doors. They feel brilliant and unstoppable. They consider Christians gullible because their minds aren’t thinking in sexual, murderous, thieving, or fraudulent ways. If you still don’t understand, I’ll clarify. “Touch of Hope” described that he held hope that a touch would lead to desired sexual contact. “Short-term needs” explained his sexual cravings being abusively coerced and forced from massage therapists. “Long term gains,” referred to the victim’s education or housing being paid/provided. To such a mind, there was transparent honesty about the nature of the humanitarian effort.

soul crushing

I weep over the harm purposefully done to precious souls, in the name of Jesus, as was the case with one of the massage therapists who considered Ravi a father figure. He acted in kindness, gained personal information, provided her with financial support, then required sex from her, and as is common with abusers, “he made her pray with him to thank God for the ‘opportunity’ they both received.”

I’m pleased to tell you that RZIM, after years of responding incorrectly to the truth and leaving a path of destruction from their wrong responses, finally followed scripture in an open letter to their supporters to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God,” Micah 6:8. I don’t know the motive of their hearts for doing this. Sometimes doing the right thing requires action, sometimes the action reflects the heart. I have learned from past advocacy investigations and responses from Christian churches and organizations that we don’t know if words of a letter are genuine or for damage control. There is fruit that corresponds with repentance. Only time will tell if their acknowledgement and apology were sincere or if their words were to once again pull the proverbial wool over their financial supporters’ eyes.

Justice always takes longer than victims and their loved ones desire, but to the guilty, make no mistake, the day of justice does come either on earth or in eternity.

This case is another example of why third party investigations are necessary. Although it took years, the response RZIM provided this week is how Christian environments must acknowledge wrongdoing in abuse cases. I’m grateful for RZIM’s apology. Anything less would have been unChristlike. (Updated 2/15/2021) To see how spiritually abusive the RZIM board acted for years toward one of Ravi’s victims, Lori Anne Thompson, read the French Press link at the end of this article.

Public disclosure, but withholding the names of victims, needs to happen as soon as possible to lessen problems and fall-out later. Most importantly, a victim’s soul care must be priority, making independent investigations essential. People can process truth and wait on conclusions. Silence allows for false narratives and toxic team building by the perpetrator and their supporters, which happened to Lori Anne Thompson and her husband when RZIM set out to destroy their family.

RZIM will have to reckon with who suspected wrongdoing and could have taken steps to stop Ravi Zacharias. Loyalty to leaders or a personality cannot be the main priority in any ministry.

miller & martin pllc report

Here is an excerpt from the twelve-page report by Miller & Martin PLLC

“Moreover, in the wake of the accusations brought against Ravi by the Thompsons in 2017, we communicated our confidence in Ravi’s denial of these accusations, and others trusted Ravi because they trusted us. Through our failure, we made it more difficult for victims to come forward. This grieves us intensely and makes us so thankful that the truth has ultimately been revealed.

https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/rzimmedia.rzim.org/assets/downloads/Report-of-Investigation.pdf

These are some of the ways that we have fallen gravely short. There are undoubtedly other ways as well that we have not yet had the wisdom and humility to identify and fully appreciate. We confess that there has been pride and arrogance in our hearts, and we are committed to the ongoing process of repentance. Both for what Ravi did and for all of the ways that we have fallen short, we are so sorry. As an organization, we understand that we have no right to forgiveness and that even if forgiveness is possible, it may take time. We also recognize that earning trust is a process and is dependent on the steps that we take moving forward.”

https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/rzimmedia.rzim.org/assets/downloads/Report-of-Investigation.pdf

this is how it’s done

If you are a pastor, a staff member, or a leader in the Christian environment, I beg you to read the Letter from the International Board of Directors of RZIM on the Investigation of Ravi Zacharias.

This is not hearsay, it is not gossip about a man of God, it is not the words of a woman scorned, and it is not about a mistake. Yes, all people sin and are offered forgiveness, through repentance, because of the finished work of Christ on the cross. But unlike an abuser’s narrative, most people’s stories don’t include sexual assault, abuse of power, deceiving a congregation or leadership, grooming congregants or followers, or having our superiors fail to report to the proper authorities. Scripturally speaking, pastors and teachers have a higher standard to uphold. 

The report by Miller & Martin PLLC is not the complete list of victims since the report only lists the ones deposed for the scope of the investigation. Missing are the women excluded in this investigation, those still out there and unidentified, or the ones hushed by a non-disclosure agreement.

Ravi Zacharias had nude pictures of women on his phone. He was sexually abusing massage therapists worldwide. He allegedly raped one and then prayed with her afterward.

Please, don’t tell me naming names and printing about misconduct hurts the name of Christ. Jesus was the first one to show us how to clean His Father’s house.

Until the church wakes up to the fact that wolves in sheep’s clothing are in our midst and sometimes hold places of leadership, we’ll continue to be too blind to recognize them.

I understand RZIM was confident the investigation would clear Ravi’s name, so I pray for those in leadership as they move forward in truth. I have three questions for the RZIM board: 1) Copies of emails and text messages were floating around the internet, for which there were no Christ-like explanations. Why didn’t you, since you were responsible for oversight, intervene with an investigation at that point? 2) The Holy Spirit and the scriptures are alive and active. Was the Spirit not screaming in your gut that something was wrong as Ravi threw a fit when you asked to see his phone and emails? 3) Will there now be an investigation into who helped Ravi Zacharias secure visas for Asian women to live in and work in the USA? I think the investigation shows a strong case for sex trafficking.

meanwhile

Publishers are pulling Ravi’s books, authors are editing partner content that included Zacharias, international affiliates are severing ties with RZIM, broadcasters are cancelling shows, and many internet sites are removing all content pertaining to their association with Zacharias.

I pray for Lori Anne and the other victims that their souls find validation, compassion, comfort, and healing for the sexual and spiritual abuse they endured. They are believed.

“We honor God by caring for the wounded and by dragging sin to the light and calling it by its right name.” -Diane Langberg, PhD

other links

Miller & Martin PLLC Report of Independent Investigation into
Sexual Misconduct of Ravi Zacharias

Ravi Zacharias Hid Hundreds of Pictures of Women, Abuse During Massages, and a Rape Allegation

Lori Anne Thompson

Open Letter from the International Board of Directors of RZIM on the Investigation of Ravi Zacharias

RaviWatch: TEN INDISPUTABLE FACTS ABOUT RAVI ZACHARIAS

Ravi Zacharias Pressured Me to Get an Abortion

The French Press ‘You Are One Step Away from Complete and Total Insanity’

investigative help

*Photo Credit: Ravi Zacharias public Facebook cover photo

Family Court and the Revictimization of Abuse Survivors

#MeToo

#ChurchToo

and now…

#CourtToo

Abusers, Denial, and 10 Tips From Their Playbook

I keep writing about abusers because once you know one, live with one, survive one…you can see patterns of abusive personalities in society.

This is one of the reasons I took on the Lynn Messer case which you can read about here. I thought I was possibly seeing glaring red flags of Lynn being the victim, not survivor, of domestic abuse.

Understanding abuse is like understanding a football playbook. Abusers have a built in playbook and if you know the signs you understand the lurking danger.

Abusers can be found in different settings: domestic, clergy, spiritual leadership, athletics, educational, family court, or anywhere in society. They follow the same playbook/guidelines regardless of where you witness them.

Today I’m comparing what I know to what I saw in
Gayle King’s CBS interview with R.Kelly last night. Singer/songwriter Robert Kelly (R.Kelly) is charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, with children and underage girls, dating back to 1998. He is also accused of holding women against their will in a so called sex-cult. Court documents show three of the victims were between the ages of 13 and 17. At the time of the alleged crimes, Kelly was at least five years older than these victims and there are other allegations that include a child.

R. Kelly’s reactions are typical among abusers, regardless of their background.

Play #1: It begins with denial, repeatedly reaffirms denial, and ends with…denial.

R. Kelly was explosive in his denial but denial can look different from abuser to abuser.

Here are some acts of denial I’ve seen:

  • Angry and hurt…becomes silent.
  • Angry and violent…hoping fear and wanting to maintain safety will stop the conversation/confrontation, or achieve agreement.
  • Calm and positive…they believe the victim has problems and they are willing to give said victim time to heal.
  • Befuddled….turns accusations against them into questions while placing the focus on victim/interviewer.
  • Reflectful and prayerful…toward the victim who is obviously emotionally unhealthy.
  • Angry but calm…spins the story.
  • Hang their head, shake their head, roll their eyes…because some people are just too stupid to understand the lies.
  • Condescending with a straight face…while explaining why they were justified to do what they did.
  • Sad and hurt…cries.

These are all forms of denial even though many do it with an air of believability.

Please understand that any emotion mixed with tears IS NOT because the abuser is sorry for what they did. It is from their frustration of their specialness being called into question; their sin or crime being brought into the light of truth. They believe they are above moral code and law and shouldn’t have to answer to anyone. (This is especially true of individuals with narcissistic personality disorder). The tears are not for the victim and not from remorse of doing wrong.

“When we do not understand an abuser’s capacity for deceit we make it is easy for the offender to continue in deception and sadly, often call it ‘grace’.  If it lacks truth then it is not grace.”  ~Diane Langberg

Here is a detailed list of denial from an abusers’ playbook:

  1. Select, groom, and brainwash your perfect victim.
  2. They (abusers) are the real victim.
  3. The person speaking truth is made to be the liar.
  4. The offender is the good, healthy, benevolent person.
  5. The victim is retaliating for vengeance, money, or notoriety.
  6. Believes the heart of their motive has been misunderstood.
  7. Judgement has fallen on them for conduct that was ‘private’ and should never be made public.
  8. They deny all private abuse or explain why it was necessary or beneficial.
  9. There is one way to do anything and everything and it’s their way. To them this is perfectly normal and logical.
  10. They hold power over the victim they claim is victimizing them.

How do we know if an abuser is rehabilitated? Conviction, repentance and change all have to take place. This is the only way you will know if your abuser is sincere.


Don Hennessey, relationship counselor and former director of the National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency, refers to abusers as psychephiles and lumps them in the same category as pedophiles when it comes to recovery. Statistics agree that abusers stand little to no chance of recovery because they don’t believe they have a problem, and “I’m sorry” isn’t in their vocabulary.

We all know that pedophiles target children for sexualized abuse.” Don Hennessy coined the word psychephile for the man who abuses his intimate female partner. “A psychephile targets the psyche of the woman he has selected as his target for a long term intimate relationship.”

Link to Gayle King interview here… (it has been broken into several shorter segments so you will need to scroll down to watch all of them).

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 3

Naghmeh Abedini photo
Naghmeh Abedini’s Facebook Profile pic

In How Do We Respond: Part 2 I worked off the premise that, “Domestic violence and abuse of any type is not a marital issue; it is an abuse issue.”

“The abuser needs healing.”

Now on to my reasoning for having the abuser obtain counseling without the presence or help of the spouse: The victim shares no responsibility in the abuser’s character, attitude or actions.

There is scriptural precedence for blame not being split down the middle.

Let’s consider Nabal and Abigail from I Samuel 25. Abagail was living in an abusive nightmare. And let’s make one thing clear: No woman deserves to be abused. Education, social standing, beauty, or lack thereof…nothing gives cause for a human to be treated with abuse yet we read of Nabal, an abusive husband to, Abigail, “an intelligent and beautiful woman.” The Bible describes Nabal as harsh and evil in his dealings. I Samuel 25:3. I understand a good deal about narcissistic personality disorder and will restate what I have read numerous times from Christian psychologists; Nabal was a narcissist.  He was utterly selfish, ungrateful, mean, sarcastic, arrogant, and lacked any amount of empathy.

An extremely wealthy Nabal refused David’s request to feed David’s 600 men. That was the hospitable custom of the day for travelers; especially since David and his men had been protecting Nabal’s workers from theft and harm during their stay in the desert. Thereafter, when David went to kill Nabal and the males who belonged to Nabal, he met Abigail riding her donkey on the road. She was a wise woman and was on her way to intercede with food and drinks, and to ask for forgiveness. I imagine she was thinking of her innocent family members; not Nabal. Abigail, “got off her donkey” and pleaded, “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent.” After David listened to Abigail’s appeal, he was impressed by her and thanked her for keeping him from bloodshed that day.

Abigail showed immense courage; plus she was sensible, capable and persuasive. Being an abused woman DOES NOT mean you are weak, incapable, stupid, unattractive, boring in the bedroom, or insensible. Most likely you are strong. How else could you survive the abuse?  Nabal could have severely punished Abigail for her independent actions that went against the rules of marriage in those days. David and his men could have taken her life and continued on to massacre Nabal’s household. Yes, Abigail, was strong and courageous.

David was wise. He listened. He took extra time and effort to understand Abigail’s predicament. He did not hold Abigail responsible for her husband’s actions or tell her she held a portion of responsibility for his actions.  Neither did the Lord; in fact, when Abigail told Nabal what she had done, “He became like a stone.” Possibly he became so worked up that, “His heart failed him.” Ten days later the Lord took Nabal.

I can’t tell you how many abused women have hoped for such an ending. I would like to take a poll and find out for myself. That may sound terrible but I’m just being honest. The flip side of this is the numerous women who were in total despair, saw no hope, and imagined there was no way out; choosing instead to end their lives with suicide.

 

Now let us take a look at Lot and his wife in Genesis 19.  This is the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; the city which archaeologists claim to have found in the last few years.

Sodom and Gomorrah is a stern, wise warning that indulgence, not restrained by the Holy Spirit in us, arouses lust and can leave us continually wanting more. Lot, his wife and their family were told to, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back.” Lot’s wife disobeyed the urgent command and looking back, turned into a pillar of salt. Did the Lord judge Lot by his wife’s actions? No. Lot’s wife made an independent decision and received the foretold consequence for her actions.

Now we will look at Joseph in Genesis 39. He acted honorably with truth yet Potiphar’s wife persuasively lied resulting in Joseph’s imprisonment.  I believe Potiphar probably knew his wife was lying and that is why he, “Burned with anger” when he heard the accusation. Because Potiphar’s entire household, including slaves and servants, heard the charge; he was forced to take swift action.  Potiphar chose not to have Joseph executed; in fact, Potiphar (Captain of the guard a.k.a.; prison warden) still trusted and respected Joseph and saw fit to place Joseph in charge of everyone, and responsible for everything done in the prison.

This is often what women go through in joint counseling when the husband spins a different story. They play the role of victim and the wife gets scolded; leaving  her isolated, in despair and in an emotional prison because the professional they trusted to see through the grand acting is blind, deaf and dumb to his antics. Her husband looks great to others around them, and she hurts and grieves horrifically behind closed doors in her home. It is common for the wife to be disbelieved; leaving her beaten down.  The wife may feel like the counselor just dug her grave so her husband could bury her alive.

Another problem women tend to have is that some male counselors refuse to call the husband on the carpet over his abuse in front of the wife due to the patriarchal system to which some Christians adhere. In such cases the counselor will reprimand the wife for her desperation or for showing emotional responses to her deep marital wounds. A patriarchal social system can be defined as a system where men are in authority over women in all aspects of society; a false sense of male entitlement. This system employed by an abuser can lead to further verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse in the home; silencing the victim. We need people who will hear and,

 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:8-9.

Many in our own American culture seem to hold a view of women as substandard beings. Case in point: Google all the revolting, insensitive, demeaning statements presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, says about women. We don’t need him standing at the top of that slippery slope encouraging other men to join him for the ride.

 “Women, our gender will not flourish in a political climate where we are objectified OR deified.” –Beth Moore

The church needs to educate itself on domestic abuse. There are women you see in church every Sunday who are sitting next to their abuser. She has done nothing wrong and yet most counselors would give her at least a gentle rebuke for saying anything negative about her husband when she desperately needs someone to hold the abuser accountable. A gentle rebuke for the abuser serves no purpose; in fact it is a nauseating jest for the woman, as nothing changes. Only strong accountability by the church and a counselor who specializes in rehabilitating abusers will help.

To read a chilling account of a husband and wife who both lacked integrity and who were equally paired in their deceptive ways, duly receiving the same consequence, read Acts 5:1-11. This lesson is not about marital abuse but rather marital co-conspiracy. Peter exposed their fraud of lying to the Holy Spirit and embezzlement.  The punishment was proportionate to both; death.

Isaiah 1:17 reads, “Learn to do good; seek justice; reprove the ruthless; defend the orphan; plead for the widow.” Women in this situation are widows; sometimes they are married widows because their husbands have emotionally and spiritually divorced them.

When abuse revelations come forth from a woman in ministry, or she is married to a spouse in ministry, or is publicly well-known—few are interested in hearing the truth of her suffering, and fewer are willing to risk supporting her. It’s uncomfortable to hear. Unless you are living it, it is difficult to imagine such behavior is possible from someone who has been held in such high regard. Although the husband has emotionally and spiritually left the wife he pours on the charisma, charming smiles, spiritual talk, and engaging conversation to outsiders.

“I fear many of us have confused Christendom with Christ. We equate Christian institutions and organizations with the Son of God. They are not the same. Christendom is not even the same as the true body of Christ. Jesus Himself told us that. He said there are tares among the wheat, wolves among the sheep, and whitewashed humans posing as believers — sometimes in leadership. We long to be comfortable somewhere, to fit in, to feel at home, and so we let ourselves think Christendom is safe and fail to see and assess and discern. Instead we listen and follow, or we remain silent. Many poor sheep have unknowingly followed a blind guide and landed in a pit. Christendom, like all institutions or organizations, tries to protect itself. If you doubt that, just expose a case of child sexual abuse by a leader and watch what happens.  Christendom has used Scripture to support or hide slavery, racism, domestic violence, and other cruelties our God hates. I fear Christendom today has become less interested in truth and more interested in power and protecting that power. Many have acquired fame, money, status, reputation, and kingdoms. At the same time we are steeped in pornography, marriages are failing in large numbers, the next generation is turning away, and we tolerate leaders in our organizations and pulpits who feed off the sheep. We have had a lot of recent headlines about Christian leaders and Christian systems that look nothing like our Lord. Christendom is not Christ.”¹   – Diane Langberg  

 

This reminds me of when leaders were waiting to see if Jesus would challenge Sabbath teachings by healing a man, (Mark 3) and a woman (Luke 13) on that day. Jesus did heal the needy man and woman, and he told the leaders that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. I believe the same applies to marriage.

The church must choose to love people more than they love things such as the institution of marriage. My commitment to my marriage covenant, and my false belief that divorce was wrong in all cases, kept me in a very sick and dangerous marriage for too long. You cannot make your husband love you, or reason with him to stop the abuse.

Wives in abusive relationships long for their abuser to be reasonable.  This will not happen. He’ll justify every offensive word and action. His refusal is the headquarters of his control. Nothing is more frustrating, or more difficult, than living with an unfair, unreasonable, and self-centered abuser.

I have learned that the percentage of abusive men who actually change is close to nil. It usually only escalates. This is a sad fact. It isn’t hopeless if the husband wants to work through the dysfunction because he, “Can do all things through Christ who strengthens” him. We know our God is the God who makes impossibilities possible.

Regardless of an abuser’s cruelty, selfishness, deceit, unfaithfulness, addiction, and/or weakness,—it can’t trump God’s strength.

Prayer for Naghmeh is essential during this time. I hope many more choose to cover her in prayer.

Naghmeh is handling the marital separation with strength that comes only from God, and I admire how she is taking her stand quietly, working hopefully, not bashing her husband, and yet preserving her own dignity.

 

___________________________________________________

¹ http://byfaithonline.com/suffering-and-the-heart-of-god/?platform=hootsuite

 

MORE ARTICLES ON NAGHMEH ABEDINI:

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 1 March 1, 2016

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 2 March 3, 2106

Naghmeh Abedini’s Leaked Letter December 8, 2015

She Said He Said: Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini February 2, 2016

 

 

 

 

What Would Jesus Do in a Toxic Relationship?

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

This is my Toxic Tuesday post on Boundaries a day late.  Illness, a migraine, Christmas planning and festivities and appointments left my house and Tuesday to-do lists flat and unchecked on the pages of my daily calendar.

I will be sharing over the next few week steps I took to make right a gone-wrong relationship and I will share the results of my undertaking. I believe God calls us to be the peacemaker, the negotiator—the problem solver. Why do I believe this? It is the theme of the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. Relationship gone wrong is the reason we need a Savior, Jesus Christ, the reconciler of toxic relationships. Compared to Him we are all toxic. Jesus had justification to leave us behind forever—to move on; to create a new world with sinless people but He didn’t. He remained faithful to His creation when we did not remain faithful to Him. When Christ could have left He instead came closer.

Believe me, the coming closer to my toxic person made me squirm. The what-ifs of my decision took over a portion of my thought life; which in hind sight was essential to keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus. Hebrews 12:1-3, “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (The Message)

 

As I interacted in my toxic relationship I focused my eyes, mind and heart on Jesus and told my mountain to, MOVE in the name of Jesus. “He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:20. I knew it was the right thing to do and I wanted to stay the course; in fact, when I knew without a shadow of doubt God was releasing me from the relationship I refused to budge. I knew as a Christian God could and would see me through to the other side as I set my resolve toward Him through prayer, Bible study and wise godly counsel. I had faith my toxic person and I would come out on the other side to healing and reconciliation.  At times I felt as though God held my hand as I skimmed the surface of hell begging and pleading with my person to leave their sin, make things right, do the hard thing, seek help, choose their family and their God; not their messed up life and their vocation.

I knew I would never regret staying close to God and doing everything I could through prayer, fasting, setting boundaries, receiving wise godly counsel and finding detours around obstacles.

That being said; if your life is in danger or you are being physically or sexually abused please leave immediately and seek help. In the right margin of my blog you will find links to articles on abusive relationships, resources for counseling services and referrals, and a link for those who are victims of domestic abuse.  God does not expect you to endure abuse or live in danger.

More to come next Tuesday.