Tag Archives: spiritual battle

Expect Trials to Multiply

Feed your faith

In my previous blog I shared about my late night of crying so hard that I broke a blood vessel in my eye while praying over a prolonged spiritual battle. A circumstance I was in out of obedience to God. I told God I was finished fighting and I meant it…unless He showed me otherwise. I remembered Hebrews 5:7 “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” Jesus was intense with deep emotion. Jesus was not guarding his heart, soul, mind and strength from his heavenly Father. No! He was showing exceeding sorrow. God considered this passion reverent submission to His plan.

Reverent. Humble. Obedient.

Yes, there isn’t anyone else I would be comfortable showing this much emotional confusion, need and turmoil to. No one else could handle it on any level. It is only God’s opinion that matters and He is the one I want to obey…because I trust Him. God does not become frustrated with or tired of my raw emotions. He considers them reverent submission.

The next morning when I woke up I rolled over and picked up my devotional book turning to page two. I just began reading this devotional the day before. I like to keep devotional books around the house that I can read for a quick pick-me-up during the day when I need more of God and this particular morning I needed a stimulant just to muster up the strength to crawl out of bed.

I read:

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EXPECT TRIALS TO MULTIPLY

God does not put heavy burdens on weak shoulders. God educates and tests our faith by trials that increase in proportion to our faith. God expects us to do adult work and to endure adult afflictions only after we have reached a mature status in Christ Jesus. Therefore, beloved, expect your trials to multiply as you proceed toward heaven.

Do not think that as you grow in grace your path will become smoother and the sky calmer and clearer. Quite the contrary. As God gives you greater skill as a soldier of the cross, He will send you on more difficult missions. As He more fully equips your ship to sail in storms, He will send you on longer voyages to more boisterous seas, so that you may honor Him and increase in holy confidence.

You would think that in Abraham’s old age – after he had come to the land of Beulah, after the birth of Isaac, and especially after the expulsion of Ishmael – he would have had a time of rest. But “it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham” (Genesis 22:1). Let Abraham’s story warn us to never plan on a rest from trials this side of the grave.

The trumpet still plays the notes of war. You cannot sit down and put the victory wreath on your head. You do not have a crown. You still must wear the helmet and carry the sword. You must watch, pray, and fight. Expect your last battle to be most difficult, for the enemy’s fiercest charge is reserved for the end of the day.

*Beside Still Waters: Words of Comfort for the Soul. C.H. Spurgeon, Edited by Roy H. Clarke, p2

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Watch, pray and fight.” Fight was the very thing I made clear I no longer wanted to do unless God told me I must. When God answers my prayers specifically through scriptures, a Bible study, Christian book/author or a godly person, I know it is not a coincidence and I better take note of it. Rarely do I receive an answer this quickly but God knew my heart, my need and my state of mind. God was not removing or ending my suffering but I knew He would give me His grace for each new day.

Well, I cannot say my soul was comforted but it was resolved. I took note of expecting my last battle to be the most difficult because it meant the situation could intensify. I knew better than to ask, “What else can go wrong?” because there is always something else. I knew God would honor and bless my submission to keep fighting even though I was not complying with a smile on my face or a joyful song in my heart. I knew the transformation and blessings might not happen here on earth so I was not looking around every corner or new day for the answered prayer to be placed in my lap. Life is not about me and what I think I deserve or do not deserve. I deserve nothing. I deserve death but Christ took care of the justice I deserved, on the cross, and made me worthy. All my sins and failures are paid for and eternal life in heaven is my destiny. Life is about agape; loving God and loving others. I may have to wait until heaven to see the big picture and that’s all right…because I am pretty certain my obedience will be GREATLY rewarded and paid out in a jewel for my crown. I think part of the reason I was allowed this battle was from praying years ago to be allowed a crown of splendid jewels to toss at Jesus’ feet.

There have been a couple of battles where I had to bite my tongue when I found myself wanting to tell someone, with a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye, “Thanks! I know you meant that for bad but you just earned me another jewel for my crown.” In this way I can keep some humor in my heart during the heat of the battle.

A few years earlier God had impressed upon my heart that this particular spiritual battle would grow worse before it became better. I have always held on to the ‘better’.

I knew I would need to collect my spiritual manna each morning. My, “What is it?” I have never known what it is and I often have no idea how I will endure another day of watching, praying and fighting. All I can say is that God’s manna is super natural and it is always enough. Occasionally I believe I didn’t collect enough morning manna to make it all the way through the day but God has a track record of seeing me through my tough hours one hundred percent (100%) of the time.

That day was no exception. I did crawl out of bed, care for and teach my children, prepare my home for facilitating a mother/daughter Bible study, prepare dinner and eat with my family plus found a few moments of time alone with my husband before guests began arriving for our next Beth Moore Bible study, Daniel: Lives of Integrity – Words of Prophecy.

Even as I type out that day’s schedule I realize only God could have given me the energy and clarity of mind to get through that day. He’s good like that. God delights in the invitation to be involved in our daily lives. I’ll gladly take more of Him!

“There is only one group of people who don’t have any problems…

Yep, and they are no longer breathing air either.”

– Michelle Teague

Part 1: Weebles Wobble But They Don’t Fall Down, previous blog

Lyrics:

So faithful
So constant
So loving and so true
So powerful in all You do

You fill me
You see me
You know my every move
You love for me to sing to You

I know that You are for me
I know that You are for me
I know that You will never
Forsake me in my weakness

And I know that You have come down
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are

So patient
So gracious
So merciful and true
So wonderful in all You do

You fill me
You see me
You know my every move
And You love for me to sing to You

And Lord, I know that You are for me
I know that You are for me
I know that You will never
Forsake me in my weakness

And I know that You have come down
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me

I know that You are for me
I know that You are for me
I know that You will never
Forsake me in my weakness

And I know that You have come down
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are

You remind me

I know that You are for me
I know that You are for me
I know that You will never
Forsake me in my weakness

And I know that You have come down
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are

Proof positive

Read the accounts of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-44, Luke 22: 41-44). What is Jesus saying to you about being real and honest when you pray to God?

Tell God you want your relationship with Him to grow deeper.

Be real when you pray because God knows the real you anyway. He knows your strengths, weaknesses, failures and sins. Don’t try to be someone you are not. Don’t pretend and don’t try to hide how you feel or what you are thinking. God already knows who you are so just be yourself when you approach Him.

Jesus gave us examples for prayer. Don’t wear masks or withhold feelings – God can handle all of it. God heard the full range of emotions from Jesus, our example, so that we will know what is acceptable and pleasing to Him.

 

Toxic Tuesday: Church Leadership Supporting Sexual Offenders Part 3

Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40

Can God’s word be applied to the issue of supporting alleged sexual abusers of children?

Does it take more faith to support an accused sex offender or to allow the law to do its job?

Do you give blind trust to someone just because you knew them in college, or know them through ministry avenues? Or do you think about how your leadership position in the church might influence the faith of a little child?

Do you support a family on the grounds they are long-standing members in your church or do you acknowledge you have no idea what may have taken place in their home, in their family, or in their family member’s life and decide to error on the side of safety for the children’s sake?

These are not easy questions to answer when placed in the position, by a friend or church member, of being asked for representation in a court of law.

I believe church staff and church leadership need to ask these questions and have policy in place before the situation arises.

Evangelical Christians are quickly gaining a status resembling that of Catholic dioceses which have earned reputations for ignoring, denying and hiding allegations of abuse; as well as, defending priests accused of sexually abusing children. If you doubt the seriousness of this statement look no further than Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment’s Facebook page: G.R.A.C.E. They have investigated and reported on numerous cases.

My thoughts on this subject have been all over the place so I will inform you that the rest of this post is a compilation of random thoughts.

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all he is the greatest.” Luke 9:46-48

Children should never be placed in the position of sacrifice for the sake of the church or the accused in the name of protecting Christ’s reputation. Souls are at stake! Jesus came to sacrifice Himself for us so don’t place a child where only Christ can reside. Protect the children; don’t blame them. Over the years I have read that children’s false claims of sexual abuse at the hands of Christian clergy remains between 1.5% and 2 %. It is rare for young children to lie about sexual abuse.

In Matthew 18:15-18 Jesus teaches us how to deal with sin issues among believers.

  1. Go in private to the person and point out the sin/error/offense.
  2. If they do not listen take two witnesses to help confront them.
  3. If still they do not listen take the issue before the church.
  4. If none of these steps work the unrepentant person is no longer allowed fellowship in the church

This is done in love for the purpose of leading the person to repentance and providing reconciliation in the relationship. These verses DO NOT APPLY to sexual offenders or people accused of breaking local, state or federal laws. All allegations must be immediately reported to the local authorities. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Pastors, church leadership, church members, family and friends cannot be objective mediators or investigators in these cases. Sexual abuse of children is criminal in all 50 states and is NOT a private matter. It is a public/civil felony to be professionally investigated. Pastors and church leadership are not professionally trained to handle such issues; no matter how well-intentioned they are.

We find a prime example in scripture of a family member who attempts to keep sexual abuse quiet. Admitting such evil exists in the world has been difficult since the beginning of time.

In 2 Samuel 13, Absalom told Tamar when he realized she had been raped by her brother Amnon, “Keep silent my sister, he is your brother, do not take this matter to heart.”  Not much can make sexual abuse worse than silence from biological family or church family.  It is hurtful and it is dangerous; moreover, it isn’t the end to the consequences of the sexual abuse. Until justice is served there is potential for further disunity, additional sin and destruction. Continue reading 2 Samuel 13-18 to see how silencing the sexually abused for the sake of peace ended.

Romans 13:1-7 teaches us that the civil government is part of God’s design for His people and that we are subject to the authorities.  Since we are commanded to respect the government/authorities placed over us  we also need to respect their investigations of alleged child victimizers. With the aforementioned random thoughts in mind; we need to stay quietly and respectfully in the background until the process if finished.

Background checks are necessary but not always beneficial. Why? Background checks processed through law enforcement computers only catch criminals who have been charged; not molesters or pedophilic offenders who have never been caught or reported or are too smart to get caught.

In a 1992 study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, sex researchers K. Freud and R. I. Watson found that the average pedophile victimizes between 20 and 150 boys before being arrested.[i]

Dr. Anna Salter in her best-selling book, Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders, Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children reports the same statistics.

This is an alarming number and it tells us churches may have pedophilic offenders working or volunteering in children’s and/or youth ministries who have not YET been caught. This is one more reason to protect the children by making sure they are never alone in a room, hallway or bathroom with one person. There should always be two adults present; not two teens, and not an adult and a child—two adults.

If you or your church has supported a sexual offender through an investigation or trial have you expressed repentance or regret for declining to protect or believe the children?

Did you ever ask straight forward questions or request names and phone numbers of previous family members and former employers to consider their side of the story compared to the accused? Did you ever, with your own eyes, see medical records/diagnosis’s? Did you seek guidance from specialists in the field of child sexual abuse such as Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment?

If you didn’t seek information; why didn’t you?

Are you teachable in this area that plagues the church? If you are instructable I urge you to contact G.R.A.C.E. for help in training your church to protect the little children from the evil that roams in this world; harmful hurtful perpetrators.

Un-teachable churches are nothing more than shelters for victimizers who have the free reign to abuse children on church property, in their vehicle, during church outings, at summer youth camps, or on overseas mission trips.

Are we moved by past friendship, loyalty, sympathy and fear for the accused or by the distress, pain and heartache of the children? Make certain your compassion is properly placed and driven by love of truth and justice for sweet innocent children.

Current news articles paint the Christian community at large as turning their backs on the victims while supporting the adult standing accused. This is tragic but what I find even more disturbing is the church calling the children liars.

Matthew 19:13-14

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Sexual abusers are found in every walk of life: Every gender although mostly the male gender, every sexual orientation, every religion, every race, every color, every country, every socioeconomic class, any profession, or any size of town.

Sexual offenders have no identifiable markings, speech or body language to alert us to their true character or motives. This is one more reason pastors are not qualified, nor are they legally authorized, to investigate felony crimes.

If you or your church has mishandled past abuse disclosures or erred on the wrong side of a sexual abuse case involving an investigation or trial I strongly recommend you contact Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment. They exist to help the body of Christ protect children and minister to abuse survivors. You will find resources for the church and for individuals on their website; Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment @netgrace.org.

 Matthew 18:10

“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”

Read also:

Church Leadership Supporting Sexual Offenders Part 1

Church Leadership Supporting Sexual Offenders Part 2

[i] K. Freund & R.I. Watson. “The Proportions of Heterosexual and Homosexual Pedophiles Among Sex Offenders Against Children: An Exploratory Study.” 18 34, Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy 34-43 (1992).

Crazymaking: Part 2 of Breaking Free from Abuse

Crazymaking: Part 2 of Breaking Free from Abuse

Here are notes I took yesterday from Pastor Rick Warren’s  September series You Make Me Crazy. If you know a crazymaker or are a crazymaker God has much to say about abusive circumstances.

No matter how bad your circumstances are you can count on God’s love and God’s power to break free from the abuse.

David describes 92 times in scripture what abusers do and what they use against and over you.

Breaking Free from Abuse: Part 2

1. Aggravation: taunting, picking on, provoking

Jesus: “The truth will set you free.” John 8:32

David: “I said, ‘I will not say anything while evil people are near.’ So I kept quiet, not saying a word… but my suffering only grew worse, and I was overcome with anxiety. The more I thought, the more troubled I became; I could not keep from asking: ‘Lord, how long will I live? When will I die? Tell me how soon my life will end.’” Psalm 39:1-4 (TEV)

2. Intimidation: Tells lies about you and threatens you, pressures you into compliance, scares you into compliance

Marks of Emotional Abuse – David’s Descriptions –

“My enemies taunt me day after day. They mock and curse me.” Psalm 102:8

“…they tell lies about me and threaten me.” Psalm 109:20

“…they make fun of me and ridicule me.” Psalm 22:7

“I have been insulted, put to shame, and humiliated.” Psalm 69:19

“Using words to kill; they bully their way with words.” Psalm 73:8 (Message)

“They push hard to make me fall.” Psalm 118:13 (GW)

“They spread rumors about me, and conspire against me.”  Psalm 31:13

“They mock me with the worst kind of profanity, and snarl at me.” Psalm 35:16

3. Denigration: Always putting you down, makes fun of you, ridicules you (not good natured teasing)

“Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God comes upon all those who disobey him.” Ephesians 5:6 (NLT)

 4. Humiliation: Insulted, shame is the favorite tool of abusers, they demean, dishonor & disgrace you

“Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them happened to you.” Hebrews 13:3b (Message)

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

5. Manipulation: trying to control you, bullying, jeering, useing words to kill

“By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you get a third person? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 (Message)

“Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, rebuke and expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But when the light shines on them, it becomes clear how evil these things are. And where your light shines, it will expose their evil deeds.” Ephesians 5:11-13 (NLT)

6. Domination: They push hard to make you fall; control you in every kind of way, power plays, to show who is in charge

Advice to Job: “Put your heart right. Reach out to God. Put away any evil and wrong from your home. Then face the world again, firm and courageous. Then all your troubles will fade from your memory, like floods that are past and remembered no more! Your life will be brighter than sunshine at noon, and life’s darkest hours will shine like the dawn!” Job 11:13-17 (TEV)

7. Defamation: They spread lies and rumors about you, love to use gossip to defame you, embarrass you

“Never repay one wrong with another, or one abusive word with another; instead, repay with a blessing. That is what you are called to do, so that you inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9 (NJB)

“Christ never verbally abused those who verbally abused him. When he suffered, he didn’tmake any threats but left everything to the one who judges fairly.” 1 Peter 2:23 (GW)

8. Condemnation: They mock you with the worst type of profanity, snarl at you, use cursing for shock value, crude slang/name calling

If any of these words describe the environment you are in – you are being emotionally abused. This is not good nature stuff here. You need to admit it, name it and point it out. It is meant to harm you.

To hear what to do and what not to do if you are living or working in an abusive environment with a: spouse, boyfriend, neighbor, co-worker, relative or friend listen to this broadcast at:  Breaking Free from Abuse: Part 2