Tag Archives: Toxic Tuesday

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.

 

Why Men Don’t Change

Source: Why Men Don’t Change

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I’ve been a reader of Gary Thomas’s books for several years and I’m always thankful for his spiritual insight and practical applications.

This article will be helpful to many of my readers who are in difficult marriages, or know a friend or loved one in a difficult marriage. The difficulty could be due to mental illness or ‘functional fixedness.’ Although some mental illnesses have roots in chemical imbalance or genetics; many are due to long rooted sin that has become a ‘normal’ way of life, but make no mistake, it is a sinful pattern and it CAN be changed. The person has to want to change and that is where Gary Thomas has insight into how to pray for this change. His future blogs will have practical application on the subject.

“Many wives live with great frustration because even though they point out to their husbands how much they are hurting, their husbands don’t seem to care and they don’t change. In many cases, this is due to ‘functional fixedness,’ which means a man isn’t motivated by his wife’s pain; he’s only motivated by his pain. This is a spiritual condition and directly related to his spiritual maturity. If you or someone you know is stuck in the mire of living with a recalcitrant spouse, you might find this post particularly helpful.”

 

Read more…

Naghmeh Abedini’s Leaked Letter

 

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Have you seen the recent news regarding imprisoned pastor, Saeed Abedini? His wife, Naghmeh, revealed to her inner circle of friends abuse she has suffered from her husband. The letter was somehow leaked to the media.

Here are my thoughts on the matter:

If it is true; oh, please don’t think unkind thoughts of her. Abused people don’t always make sense to the outside world. I speak from experience as one who has been down the path.

Search my past posts:

Why I Chose a Toxic Husband; and He Me.

I Received a Reversal of Destiny, He Did Too.

I Am Known As a Liar.

My Destructive Marriage.

How To Love a Woman in a Destructive Marriage. 

Many abused Christian wives are simply doing the best they can at the time. Most of all, they are attempting to hear the Lord and be obedient to the calling He has placed on our lives.

And here is a thought you perhaps have not thought of: Sometimes God calls people to marry a person who is unfaithful and/or abusive.  If you think this goes against everything God stands for; think again. Read the book of Hosea for starters. God ordained for Hosea to marry Gomer; who was unloving and unfaithful. We are reminded through this story how undeserving we are of God’s always faithful, unconditional love. His love is constant and our salvation, eternity living in His presence, is guaranteed to those who place their faith in His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ.  God is Sovereign—although I admit I don’t always agree with or understand His ways or timing—I do trust Him.

Although abuse cannot be verified, it is possible that Naghmeh has survived and blossomed under her, supposed, oppressive relationship with her husband. She may have suffered in silence for many years while being viewed as nothing more than a man’s piece of property; without losing her sanity, integrity in Christ, her ability to raise her children, and obedience to follow God’s calling to advocate for those wrongly imprisoned and for the persecuted church.  She may have needlessly, in some regards, and obediently in others, sacrificially given of herself.

I speak from experience when I tell you that it can be nearly impossible to reconcile in your heart and mind a public man who boldly teaches the word of God and prays, with the private man who secretly treats his wife in the home with ridicule, resentment, the silent treatment, physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse due to his addiction to pornography.

Naghmeh may be on her way to healing, if it is all true, while still not seeing Saeed’s sin in full. I remember those days all too well. When I was divorcing my abusive husband years ago, I had two different attorneys tell me I was still protecting my husband instead of revealing his problems. I was told I was the text book example of an abused wife and that I would need extensive counseling to help me find my way through the fog. They were right! I pray the Christian community, and well known Christian counselors, make themselves available to Naghmeh and her children for ongoing therapy, Bible study and prayer.

Naghmeh talks of Saeed’s love and passion for Jesus, which I believe, but if he abuses his wife; even though his salvation is secure, Saeed is out of fellowship with God and his prayers are not being heard. (John 9:31, Proverbs 28:9, Psalm 66:18, Isaiah 59:2, James 4:3, Galatians 5:22-23) And as for Saeed being, “An amazing dad who pours spiritual truths into his children’s lives;” the bigger truth is perhaps, if he is indeed abusive, that proclaiming scriptural truths at the same time as abusing your wife has huge, profound ramifications on your children’s perception of God and their ability to follow after Him. And if it is true, for her children’s sake, I hope a counselor is able to teach her how to help her children understand that daddy’s abusive behavior is not normal, healthy, or acceptable to God.  Should Saeed be freed from prison; and healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation be found they will know how to set healthy boundaries and protect their heart, soul, mind and strength if any generational abusive tendencies resurface.

Naghmeh showed her vulnerability to her closest friends, but I’m glad she chose it none the less. Women aren’t always believed when they finally find the courage to expose their abusive husband. Sometimes women are accused of being vain, other times people turn away in disgust, or think the wife is looking for sympathy or fame. Naghmeh wrote to friends whom she believed would provide safety and hope for healing and peace. Sharing her secret pain has most likely been the greatest sacrifice of her personal feelings. If she did so out of obedience to the Lord; she can trust it is God working out His plan for her family’s life.

My family has been praying for Pastor Saeed’s release from prison for three years; as well as, for God’s heart and will to be done in this situation. We will continue to pray the later while praying for Naghmeh and her children’s healing, and we will pray for Pastor Saeeds restoration, healing and freedom from injustices.

Here are the original articles:

Naghmeh Abedini Claims Abuse, Halts Public Support for Imprisoned Husband Saeed

Citing abuse, wife of U.S. pastor held in Iran says she’ll stop public campaigning

The Christian Way to Deal With Sin in the Camp

Naghmeh Abedini regrets emails of marital woe

The below letter is from Naghmeh Abedini’s personal but public Facebook page published yesterday, December 7, 2015:

“To my dearest friends,

After a month of resting and healing and sitting at the feet of Jesus, today I felt led to share.

Three years ago, when Saeed was put in the Iranian prison for his faith, the Lord called me to get up and not only advocate for Saeed, but also to share the Gospel message and to advocate for the persecuted church. I was freed from so much fear and it was a step of faith for me to get up and move. When I did obey, I could see that I could DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME (Philippians 4:13) That by Grace of God I could get on airplanes. That by God’s Grace I could speak in front of heads of governments, parliaments, the congress, thousands of people and our own president and I was able to open my mouth through the Grace of God and represent Christ and to share Christ with so many. It was overwhelming seeing how Jesus had become my STRENGTH through my utter WEAKNESS.

A month ago, the Lord asked me to stop and sit. It took another step of faith to stop everything and just sit at the feet of Jesus and to hear from Him. It was freeing to see that by Grace of God none of the fame and attention or praises of men had gotten to me and that I could drop everything the moment my Savior told me to drop it and to go back to being a single mom in Boise, Idaho. It was freeing to let go of the FALSE SENSE of SECURITY that money was bringing into my life (through speaking engagements) and to know that the only thing that all I desperately needed was Jesus. That my true security rests in Jesus. That Jesus is my day to day provider.

I had to turn off every voice including my own and only care about what Jesus was saying to me. It was hard. With the news that came out recently (an email I had sent to prayer partners was leaked to media), stones were being thrown at me left and right and many religious leaders who saw me wounded and bleeding passed on by afraid to touch me or this whole mess/situation. It was hard, but Jesus kept telling me to be silent and to look to Him.

The truth is that I still love my husband more than ever and my advocacy for him has taken a new form of interceding on my knees. The truth is I can not deny Saeed’s love and passion for Jesus and that he continues to suffer in the Iranian prison because of his genuine love for Jesus and his refusal to deny Him. I can not deny the amazing dad he has been to our kids and the spiritual truths he poured into their life until the moment he was arrested. But at the same time I can not deny the very dark parts of our marriage and serious issues Saeed continues to struggle with.

So I open myself up once again and become real and raw in asking you to join me in praying for Saeed. This time not only for his physical chains, but the spiritual chains that have bound him for so many years. Those chains that have stuck to him from the culture he was raised in (Middle East) and from his former religion (Islam). I believe that God will use Saeed’s imprisonment to break Saeed of these chains and to refine him and use him as a vessel for the work that He has prepared for him.

I am not sure how often I will be providing updates, but I will share as the Lord leads. Starting January 5, I am going to start another 21 days of prayer and fasting. It will be a time of drawing closer to the Lord and sharing what He lays on my heart. I hope they will be a source of blessing and encouragement to you as well.

I praise God for all of the ups and downs, excitements and disappointments, and for the many pains and tears. They have been good for me. They are a great tool to refine us and keep our eyes on Jesus.

With much Love in Jesus

Naghmeh Abedini”

Toxic Tuesday: Covert or Overt Narcissist

 

Below is an easy to read chart that explains some of the differences between covert and overt narcissists. This is a quick highlight. The lines can be blurry and what are supposed to be differences can occasionally overlap. The biggest difference is the covert has lower self-esteem; although most people will never see it unless they live with the person. Then again the person who lives with the covert may see a gross amount of arrogance, along with the low self-esteem, although they come across as personable and humble to their outside audience. The overt shows more arrogance in any setting. Both covert and overt can be charismatic personalities who seek to control the people closest to them; along with those in their work environment.

If you think along the lines of cult leaders and world dictators you can begin a list of Who’s Who Among Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In my opinion we currently have narcissists in the highest level of office in more than one major world power. Another likely narcissist is running for president and has built much of his empire preying on the poor.

Narcissists will say what they think you want to hear, but make no mistake, they don’t always mean what they say. Their goal is to manipulate and control. Power goes to their head and the evil in their heart can spiral out of control. Again, this is why narcissists make great but terrible cult leaders, totalitarian dictators, and brutal religious zealots.

I’ll be honest and tell you that every time I sit down and write about the subject of narcissistic personality disorder I become emotionally and physically exhausted. Plus, attempting to keep the description brief is difficult.

That’s what having a narcissist in your background will do to you.

If you question the existence of a narcissist in your life further research will be beneficial and enlisting professional help essential.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Clinical Features 

Arrogant/Overt . . . Shy/Covert Narcissism

Arrogant/Overt Shy/Covert
  Self-Concept Grandiosity;    preoccupation with fantasies of outstanding success; undue sense of uniqueness; feelings of entitlement; seeming self-sufficiency Inferiority; morose self-doubts; marked propensity toward feeling ashamed; fragility; relentless search for glory and power; marked sensitivity to criticism and realistic setbacks
 Interpersonal 
  Relationships
Numerous but shallow relationships; intense need for tribute from others; scorn for others, often masked by pseudo-humility; lack of empathy; inability to genuinely participate in group activities; valuing of children over spouse in family life Inability to genuinely depend on others and trust them; chronic envy of others talents, possessions, and capacity for deep object relations; lack of regard for generational boundaries; disregard for others time; refusal to answer letters
  Social 
  Adaptation
Socially charming; often successful; consistent hard work done mainly to seek admiration (pseudo- sublimation); intense ambition; preoccupation with appearances Nagging aimlessness; shallow vocational commitment; dilettante-like attitude; multiple but superficial interests; chronic boredom; aesthetic taste often ill-informed and imitative
  Ethics, 
  Standards, 
  and
  Ideals
Caricatured modesty; pretended contempt for money in real life; idiosyncratically and unevenly moral; apparent enthusiasm for sociopolitical affairs

 

 Readiness to shift values to gain favor; pathological lying; materialistic lifestyle; delinquent tendencies; inordinate ethnic and moral relativism; irreverence toward authority
  Love 
  and 
  Sexuality
Marital instability; cold and greedy seductiveness; extramarital affairs and promiscuity; uninhibited sexual life Inability to remain in love; impaired capacity for viewing the romantic partner as a separate individual with his or her own interests, rights, and values; inability to genuinely comprehend the incest taboo; occasional sexual perversions
  Cognitive 
  Style
Impressively knowledgeable; decisive and opinionated; often strikingly articulate; egocentric perception of reality; love of language; fondness for shortcuts to acquisition of knowledge Knowledge often limited to trivia (headline intelligence); forgetful of details, especially names; impaired in the capacity for learning new skills; tendency to change meanings of reality when facing a threat to self-esteem; language and speaking used for regulating self-esteem

NOTE:  This chart originally appeared in Akhtar, S. J. (1989). Narcissistic personality disorder: Descriptive features and differential diagnosis. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 12, pp. 505-530.

 

Why I Chose A Toxic Husband; and He Me

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I was recently asked if I received counseling before, during or after my divorce from my narcissistic, delusional, abusive, sex addicted, first husband; who was also a pastor. This was followed up with an inquiry of what I learned.

Here are some details of my answers.call on Him in truth

Yes! Yes, I went to counseling…for several years I went to counseling; in fact, any time I feel like some aspect of my life is consuming my thought life or spiraling out of control, I seek a professional, Christian counselor or psychologist.

My personal opinion is: Strong people seek help when feeling weak.

The first nine years of my first marriage I had avoided counselors for three reasons. 1.) I was constantly told, by my husband, that our marriage and ministry problems were because of me.  2.) I could not afford a professional.  3.) By the time I realized it wasn’t all me I felt I didn’t have anyone I could tell. We were in the ministry and seeking help meant telling someone what was going on in my marriage, but a good wife doesn’t say bad things about her husband and I had some serious issues to reveal.

In year nine, of eleven, I decided I was seeking help no matter who I had to tell, or what I had to tell. God provided a safe person, a safe married couple, for me. And guess what? They already knew from observation that I was in an unhealthy marriage with a mentally ill man who was refusing help and healing. From there I sought a godly Christian counselor, who as God would provide for me, had also been married to a man with narcissistic personality disorder. So she had in-depth knowledge of a portion of what I had endured.

My question to my helpers, counselors and doctors was, “What is wrong with me that I choose someone this mentally ill; this messed up? I have to be suffering, untreated, from mental illness myself. Please help me find what it is so I can heal.”  Sobbing and pleading, I begged people to tell me what my mental illness was. After all, you can’t receive help and healing if you don’t know what is ill, or wrong.

I never asked myself, “Why me? Why did this happen to me?”

I knew why. It was a consequence of my own sinful choices and actions before marriage. Yet I wanted to know why I was drawn to him.

Here is what I found out about myself:

I gravitated toward what I knew.

There was some generational bondage that needed to be addressed.

My track record of boyfriends was heavily dotted by young men with emotional problems; not all of them, but most of them. In hind sight, picking an emotionally traumatized husband was no shock.

I was a huge enabler. Not only could I handle my own life; including, my own junk, I took on his too.

I did not know how to set boundaries. After all, having my own opinion about something had not been optional that I could remember. Voicing my own opinion usually landed me in trouble or an argument. Narcissists respect no boundaries so I was  textbook prey.

I liked to find the positive traits in people and overlook the negative. I greatly desired to please others and put their needs ahead of mine. I could not stand the thought, or feeling, of being disliked. These are highly attractive traits to a narcissist because they need an endless supply of reassurance that they are wonderful, beautiful, highly talented, intelligent, gifted, funny, extremely amazing, nice, and the utmost special person on planet earth. They surround themselves with, ‘Yes’ men and women who would never want to hurt the narcissist’s feelings by saying, “No.”

I was accustomed to being treated harshly while being told I was loved.

Narcissists are attracted to strong women. The problem is that once they have you the strength they were attracted to becomes an object of the narcissist’s wrath; they despise your strength. They hate their own lack of self-control so they want to control you. They want to absorb you; become you because they don’t have their own identity. They spend their life demolishing the essence of who you are; or at least, chipping it away piece by piece. They want you to believe the lie that everything is your fault, and since I was a young, boundry-less, enabling nineteen year old when I married a minister five years older than me; I assumed he was right. Even when he lied to me about me I thought there must be something terribly wrong with me.  They know you are strong and that you won’t put your problems on their shoulders. In fact, since your shoulders are so strong they want you to solve and take care of their problems too; hoping you will heal their wounds.

I was a pro at picking up subtle hints and catering to them.

Narcissists are experts at manipulation and control so he used my big heart for his own ill purposes.

Waiting for a narcissist to love you is like waiting for a person whose eyes are gouged out to see again; it is not possible for a narcissist to bond or love.

Although I should have known, I did not know crazymaker (gas lighting) was a real term that embodied human flesh.

I learned that being too nice can cost you and your child your safety, your life, and your sanity.

I also learned that when the line of safety is crossed with your child; fierceness like no other can come out of you.  It’s a healthy fierceness that should have been employed sooner than it was.

I’m grateful to say I learned I am not suffering from mental illness and I don’t have a personality disorder. My life’s traumas did; however, leave me with auto-immune diseases.

So…if you or a loved one is in a relationship with an abusive, addicted or mentally ill person who refuses to acknowledge their struggle and seek help; please know, they can’t stop you from seeking help, safety, protection and healing. There is help and there is hope.

 LYRICS:

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.

Chorus:

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?

Chorus:

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.

Why Wait Till Marriage: What No One Tells You. What I Wish Someone Had Told Me

Written by Ann Voskamp; this is by far my favorite explanation and sound reasoning for teaching why God’s way is the best in every way.  CLICK the above link.

Toxic Tuesday: Learn 4 Simple Phrases For Setting Boundaries

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“She dresses herself with strength.” Proverbs 31:17

There is a way to remain strong and to thrive despite interacting with a difficult person. It isn’t easy because when you’re in the middle of relational turmoil, or are receiving a verbal lashing, it can be challenging to keep your thoughts straight.  Thinking quickly typically does not happen. If you’re like me, you have to think about and pray about the situation before acting, speaking or setting a boundary. Having a plan of action in advance will safeguard you and will be beneficial to the other person. Often the difficult person has a tough time with self-control and your boundary can help them keep an emotional, or verbally abusive, outburst from erupting.

Does your D.P. (difficult person) keep asking the same questions over and over? Do they refuse your answer and creativelykeep-calm-and-have-boundaries find another avenue to demand the response or resolution they desire? Do you continually hope for an agreement? Do you long to be rationally understood?

Disagreements abound. There may be several answers or opinions to a subject but not to your D.P. To them it is black and white and their way or opinion is the only correct one. Do not waste your time arguing. Perhaps using, “That is your opinion” repetitively will soon keep your D.P. from attempting to overtake you on the matter again. It isn’t that your D.P. forgets the previous conversation you had on the topic. It is that your D.P. is attempting to wear you down. “That is your opinion,” used consistently will remind your D.P. the ‘wear them down’ tactic is no longer a working strategy to be used against you. I’m not saying they will not continue to try, I’m saying, “That is your opinion,” is a gentle reminder to them that this conversation is going nowhere. This also shows them that you are keeping your opinion and your dignity.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)

Although your reply will not be received as gentle it is working in a gentler way than their argumentative words fired at you from a flaming tongue.

Is the topic to which you have already given an answer being approached—again?  Think about this response, “I am not discussing this with you.” Any time your D.P. brings up the topic in hopes of receiving a different answer from you; remember this easy phrase. You will most likely have to say it several times as long as this person stays in your life.

“Say just a simple ‘Yes, I will’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Your word is enough.”  Matthew 5:37 (Living Bible)

If your D.P. likes to make decisions for you or give you orders but they are not an authority figure, “That’s not what I was thinking” or “That’s not what I had in mind,” are examples of good phrases to learn. After your D.P. has heard the same phrase multiple times they will remember the boundary before trying to cross it again.

If your life is in danger or you think these responses could place your life in danger use your good judgment and refrain from possibly making the situation worse. If you are in danger please leave immediately and seek help. In the right margin of my blog you will find links to articles on abusive relationships and a link for those who are victims of domestic abuse. Focus on the Family offers a one-time complimentary consultation from a Christian perspective; CLICK HERE FOR LINK. Focus on the Family also offer referrals for licensed counselors in your area: CLICK HERE FOR LINK. 

If you are dealing with an individual suffering from narcissistic personality disorder they will never tire of attempting to wear you down. They are not able to see your point of view; they are not capable of empathizing, loving or bonding. They are users who recruit people for close relationship who can be used for a specific purpose to improve their existence, provide a cover for something they don’t want others to find out about them, or to meet an unhealthy desire.  Maybe you have recently come to this realization about someone in your life. Although you may see this and know this, the most maddening part of it is that no one on the outside sees it. That is because a narcissist lives their life on a stage acting out the role they think the other person wants to see. They are the grandest actors you could ever have the disadvantage of being with in any type of relationship.

Here is a very important character trait to remember when dealing with a narcissist: Self-control. Although telling them how you feel or giving them a verbal reprimand may feel good to you; when it is all said and done you will soon realize it was wasted time, emotion, words, energy and thoughts because not one word of it will be taken seriously or to heart. In the end this will further frustrate you. A narcissist has no point of reference other than him/her.

I had to be reminded on countless occasions to remember I wasn’t dealing with a true adult; I was interacting with a toddler trapped in an adult body. So if you find yourself in this situation while looking straight into the eyes of the person—remember:

toddler 2
This toddler is not capable of grasping the issue
toddler 5
They do not realize they should be interested in your feelings. They don’t know you have feelings; nor do they care if you do..
toddler 4
They want to celebrate their specialness!
toddler 1
They did not do it. You can’t prove they did it. They will never admit to doing it. After all, even if they did do it—it’s not really who they are. So…NO…, “I did not do it!”
toddler 6
The vague, blank stare when you dare to have meaningful conversation about something other than them, their idea, their opinion, or their needs.
toddler 3
This is how they feel if you try to express your concerns, needs, victories, wants, ideas, or opinions.

These lessons have been hard experiences I have lived through, learned from, and I am still studying.  I learn from spending time in prayer and Bible study; as well as, from spending time with emotionally and spiritually healthy people. If you make time for Jesus, through prayer and Bible study, and invite Him into all areas of your life; you will never regret it or think, “That was time wasted.”  Never.

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)

Most likely the issue with your D.P. is control. These personalities long to have power over other people but now that you are on to them, you can set up safe and healthy boundaries to protect yourself and your loved ones. You will recognize the behavior when you see it and not be caught off guard. I remember the feeling when I finally began to recognize it.

Your, “Ah hah” moment is coming!

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31: 25-26 (NIV)

Most importantly, practice I Corinthians 13:2, “but (if I) have not love, I am nothing.”  (ESV)

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  I Corinthians 13:13 (ESV)

PRACTICE THESE PHRASES:

1.)  That is your opinion.

2.)  I am not discussing this with you.

3.)  That’s not what I was thinking.

4.)  That’s not what I had in mind.

5 Indicators: A Jerk or a Wicked Heart? There is a Difference

5 Indicators of an Evil and Wicked Heart

by Leslie Vernick

As Christian counselors, pastors and people helpers we often have a hard time discerning between an evil heart and an ordinary sinner who messes up, who isn’t perfect, and full of weakness and sin.

I think one of the reasons we don’t “see” evil is because we find it so difficult to believe that evil individuals actually exist. We can’t imagine someone deceiving us with no conscience, hurting others with no remorse, spinning outrageous fabrications to ruin someone’s reputation, or pretending he or she is spiritually committed yet has no fear of God before his or her eyes.

The Bible clearly tells us that among God’s people there are wolves that wear sheep’s clothing (Jeremiah 23:14; Titus 1:10; Revelations 2:2). It’s true that every human heart is inclined toward sin (Romans 3:23), and that includes evil (Genesis 8:21; James 1:4). We all miss God’ mark of moral perfection. However, most ordinary sinners do not happily indulge evil urges, nor do we feel good about having them. We feel ashamed and guilty, rightly so (Romans 7:19–21). These things are not true of the evil heart.

Below are five indicators that you may be dealing with an evil heart rather than an ordinary sinful heart.  If so, it requires a radically different treatment approach.

1. Evil hearts are experts at creating confusion and contention.

They twist the facts, mislead, lie, avoid taking responsibility, deny reality, make up stories, and withhold information. (Psalms 5:8; 10:7; 58:3; 109:2–5; 140:2; Proverbs 6:13,14; 6:18,19; 12:13;16:20; 16:27, 28; 30:14; Job 15:35; Jeremiah 18:18; Nehemiah 6:8; Micah 2:1; Matthew 12:34,35; Acts 6:11–13; 2 Peter 3:16)

2. Evil hearts are experts at fooling others with their smooth speech and flattering words.

But if you look at the fruit of their lives or the follow through of their words, you will find no real evidence of godly growth or change. It’s all smoke and mirrors. (Psalms 50:19; 52:2,3; 57:4;59:7; 101:7; Proverbs 12:5; 26:23–26; 26:28; Job 20:12; Jeremiah 12:6; Matthew 26:59; Acts 6:11–13; Romans 16:17,18; 2 Corinthians 11:13,14; 2 Timothy 3:2–5; 3:13; Titus 1:10,16).

3. Evil hearts crave and demand control, and their highest authority is their own self-reference.

They reject feedback, real accountability, and make up their own rules to live by. They useScripture to their own advantage but ignore and reject passages that might require self-correction and repentance. (Romans 2:8; Psalms 10; 36:1–4; 50:16–22; 54:5,6; 73:6–9;Proverbs 21:24; Jude 1:8–16).

4. Evil hearts play on the sympathies of good-willed people, often trumping the grace card.

They demand mercy but give none themselves. They demand warmth, forgiveness, and intimacy from those they have harmed with no empathy for the pain they have caused and no real intention of making amends or working hard to rebuild broken trust. (Proverbs 21:10; 1 Peter 2:16; Jude 1:4).

5. Evil hearts have no conscience, no remorse.

They do not struggle against sin or evil—they delight in it—all the while masquerading as someone of noble character. (Proverbs 2:14–15; 10:23; 12:10; 21:27,29; Isaiah 32:6; Romans 1:30; 2 Corinthians 11:13–15)

If you are working with someone who exhibits these characteristics, it’s important that you confront them head on. You must name evil for what it is. The longer you try to reason with them or show mercy towards them, the more you, as the Christian counselor, will become a pawn in his or her game.

They want you to believe that:

1. Their horrible actions should have no serious or painful consequences.

When they say “I’m sorry,” they look to you as the pastor or Christian counselor to be their advocate for amnesty with the person he or she has harmed. They believe grace means they are immediately granted immunity from the relational fallout of their serious sin. They believe forgiveness entitles them to full reconciliation and will pressure you and their victim to comply.

The Bible warns us saying, “But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord (Isaiah 26:10).

The Bible tells us that talking doesn’t wake up evil people, but painful consequences might. Jesus didn’t wake up the Pharisee’s with his talk nor did God’s counsel impact Cain (Genesis 4). In addition, the Bible shows us that when someone is truly sorry for the pain they have caused, he or she is eager to make amends to those they have harmed by their sin (see Zacchaeus’ response when he repented of his greed in Luke 19).

Tim Keller writes, “If you have been the victim of a heinous crime. If you have suffered violence, and the perpetrator (or even the judge) says, ‘Sorry, can’t we just let it go?’ You would say, ‘No, that would be an injustice.’ Your refusal would rightly have nothing to do with bitterness or vengeance. If you have been badly wronged, you know that saying sorry is never enough. Something else is required—some kind of costly payment must be made to put things right.”1

As Biblical counselors let’s not collude with the evil one by turning our attention to the victim, requiring her to forgive, to forget, to trust again when there has been no evidence of inner change. Proverbs says, “Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips” (Proverbs. 25:19). It’s foolishness.

The evil person will also try to get you to believe

2. That if I talk like a gospel-believing Christian I am one, even if my actions don’t line up with my talk.

Remember, Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). He knows more true doctrine than you or I will ever know, but his heart is wicked. Why? Because although he knows the truth, he does not believe it or live it.

The Bible has some strong words for those whose actions do not match their talk (1 John 3:17,18; Jeremiah 7:8,10; James 1:22, 26). John the Baptist said it best when he admonished the religious leaders, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (Luke 3:8).

If week after week you hear the talk but there is no change in the walk, you have every reason to question someone’s relationship with God.

Part of our maturity as spiritual leaders is that we have been trained to discern between good and evil. Why is that so important? It’s important because evil usually pretends to be good, and without discernment we can be easily fooled (Hebrews 5:14).

When you confront evil, chances are good that the evil heart will stop counseling with you because the darkness hates the light (John 3:20) and the foolish and evil heart reject correction (Proverbs 9:7,8). But that outcome is far better than allowing the evil heart to believe you are on his or her side, or that “he’s not that bad” or “that he’s really sorry” or “that he’s changing” when, in fact, he is not.

Daniel says, “[T]he wicked will continue to be wicked” (Daniel 12:10), which begs the question, do you think an evil person can really change?

[1] Tim Keller, Jesus the King, page 172

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC) exists to encourage, equip, and empower people everywhere to live and counsel the Word, applying the Gospel to the whole experience of life.

Encourage: ABC provides a fellowship of believers committed to life transformation through the Living Word.

Equip: ABC promotes training in biblical counseling and points to resources that deal biblically with all of the issues of life.

Empower: ABC provides excellent materials for growth in Christ and for use in effective biblical counseling.

To find out more, visit the Association of Biblical Counselors website.

Toxic Tuesday: Good Parents ask the Right Questions at the Right Time

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Trust.

I don’t trust easily these days. Life has been blinding, littered with betrayal from the last place I would have ever suspected it, and life has been steeped in emotional trauma.

How does a parent trust this world where danger and sexual addictions abound? How do we safeguard our children?

Hindsight has been beneficial for planning how to protect but there is no full proof way to keep child predators at bay.

I’ve had a couple of occasions the last few years where my, ‘Abuser Radar Alert,’ made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

The first: When a man I met for the first time asked if he could sit in my house and watch my daughter, whom he had never met, play the piano since he, 1) Heard me say she plays the piano and 2) He enjoys listening to piano music. Seriously…NO! The man may have been innocent in his asking but for this momma it came across as CREEPY.

The second: When a man I had never met, but who had met my boys at an extra-curricular activity, invited my boys to his house. He was an older man with no children left at home. He told my boys that the next time their mom needed to go shopping or the next time their parents needed to go out, they could stay at his house with him to play and swim.

Since my history includes once upon a time being married to a pedophile pastor who used the ministry to gain employment granting him immediate leadership access to potential victims, my radar is at high alert over such propositions.

My boys thrilled at the prospect of swimming; what a fun invitation to receive!

It never happened.

I’m all about having fun, in fact; one of the questions I always have when my kids are through with an activity, or are finished visiting with a friend, is if they had fun. Fun is important to me; always has been.  But fun doesn’t necessarily equate with safe or beneficial.

Here are a few questions I have learned to ask over the years. I’ve been known to ask these questions after play dates, youth group, extracurricular outings and even after church on Sundays.  I don’t ask every question after each encounter and I don’t question each activity. I ask these questions so casually that I don’t know if my kids are aware of my motives. New people, places and activities are held to a higher level of interest while family, friends and regularly scheduled activities are randomly questioned. This is where the greatest vulnerability can lie; most molestation acts do not involve stranger danger, they are the result of a close family member or friend who gained trust and access to the child. Single moms’ children tend to be the biggest targets for such predators; but not the only targets.

I do not ask my children questions in the presence of other people. This ensures my children feel secure in speaking their heart and mind.

QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION:

What did you do at the event?

What was your favorite activity or part of your visit?

Was there anything you didn’t like or anything that made you feel uncomfortable? (This is a good time to reinforce that children do not have to obey everything an adult tells them to do.)

Did you feel safe? (I’ve been asking this questions since my boys were wee little things.)

Tell me something you liked about the adult/s in charge? Was there anything you disliked?

Is there anything interesting about a helper or kid that you can tell me?

Is there any reason you would not want to go back there again?

Did anyone ask you to keep a secret today?

Did anyone show you something on their iPhone or iTouch that was inappropriate?

Do you have questions about anything that happened?

Did you understand everything that was said or that was asked of you?

Is there anything you want to tell me about your visit today?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The next 2 questions I reserve for stranger danger and body/health educational teaching at home:

Has anyone ever touched you in your private places or asked to touch you in your private places?

Has anyone ever shown you their private places or asked you to show them your private places?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When at a private residence or at public places with public restrooms my kids know the rule: 1 person per bathroom/stall, and to never hesitate screaming for help if someone makes them feel uncomfortable.

You never know who has an attraction to children or who has a sick abusive desire on which they plan to act. It could be a trusted adult or it could be a close friend. Sadly, we never know if a friend, cousin or relative has abused or taught a child something they should not know that could be passed on to your child.

If your child has an answer that concerns you or startles you; always believe the child! Children rarely lie about childhood victimization.

DO NOT approach or question the accused and keep your child out of the accused’s presence.  Call the child abuse hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD) or call your local authorities. Professionals will know how to legally investigate your child’s allegations. You would not want to jeopardize the case being thrown out of court due to leading the witness with wrong lines of questioning.

Seek medical attention from the child’s doctor or at the emergency room to find out if he or she was physically harmed. Creating a paper trail will be very important in seeking justice.

Find a licensed counselor to guide your child through the psychological trauma of abuse and victimization which will continue beyond the physical trauma. Ongoing therapy for coping and healing is a must.

There is wisdom in asking questions at the right time.

Listen and learn from your children.

Read: How Sexual Predators Choose Victims

Protecting Children from Predators

Pedophile or Molester: *Content Warning

Toxic Tuesday Guest Post: Dealing with Toxic Family Members, Part 4

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Here is the last installment from Ron Corzine, of SCOPE (Simple Concepts of Practical Equipping) to help us sort through family discord in part 4 of Dealing With Toxic Family Members. The Bible offers practical applications for any problem, conflict or question; forever and always. We can count on God’s word.

Today we will conclude this series by looking at two more powerful prayers one can pray.

Click her to read Part 4 of: DEALING WITH TOXIC FAMILY MEMBERS, Part 4

For Part 1: Dealing With Toxic Family Members—READ HERE

Part 2: Dealing With Toxic Family Members: Part 2

Part 3: DEALING WITH TOXIC FAMILY MEMBERS, Part 3

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They hate you because they hate Jesus in you.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” John 15:18 (NIV)

They cannot tolerate your calmness in the storm, your resolve to listen only to your Savior in trust and obedience, and your ability to not allow their arrows to penetrate your heart, soul, mind and strength. Little does the abusive person know; Jesus is deflecting the arrows from ever reaching you as your gaze it set on Him.

Mindset of abusive people:
self control or lack thereof

 

 

 

Toxic Tuesday: Narcissistic Parents Part 3

November 11, 2014    Joy S.

This is the third segment of a four-part series by guest author, Joy S. See past Toxic Tuesday posts, Narcissistic Parents (Part 1) and Narcissistic Parents (Part 2)

We left off last week with Myth #1). “If I forgive someone, then that’s the same as saying that they didn’t do anything very bad.  My painful feelings will be discounted.”

FALSE.

Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smallMyth # 2). “To forgive someone, I must also simultaneously forget that they ever offended me.  And if I haven’t forgotten, then I must not have really forgiven.”FALSE.Forgiveness is not AMNESIA.  :-). Your memories of pain are brain connections made – biology and chemistry of the past.  Reversing your neural connections is impossible.  Meaning, you both remember AND forgive. That’s normal.  (God doesn’t do memory wipes on us. If He did, then we wouldn’t be able to forgive because, duh, we wouldn’t remember what happened to us.)  It doesn’t mean that you didn’t really forgive the first time around, or that you’reabadforgiver, or a bad Christian.”Well, for argument’s sake,” you say, “can I simultaneously obsess/rehearse/reenact my pain AND forgive?”No. Very doubtful.Wise up!  You only have so much mental energy, and the enemy would love for you to squander all of it on the past.  (I mean, dwelling on what’s past is like saying you want to buy real estate at 1 Bad Memory Lane.  If so, then don’t build a house. You won’t need it.  Just install a sty.  I’ve had days, weeks, years when I just wallowed in a sty of self-pity (aka, sin).  Wallowed, wallowed, oinked…told everyone who’d listen to my tale of woes.  Rehearsed my NPD parent’s sins and dirt, churned up all the old emotions.  Not surprisingly, none of that gave me inspiration or the strength to obey God by forgiving like He commanded.  Eventually I crawled out of the sty and repented of my sin, my God-Daddy washed off my filth, and I got back down to forgiveness again.  Please learn from my sins.  Don’t hang out in the sty of self-pity.)Memories of your wounds can be valuable.  If they remind you of God’s past faithfulness, His sweet healing Grace, His deliverance from your NPDer’s control, or wisdom in how to protect yourself from unsafe people, keep them near.  If not, dump ’em.  (This is not the equivalent of giving your NPD parent a “get out of jail free” card.   Remember, they still have to face God for what they did to you.)

Recognize that you are in a battle!!   Say to God, “Daddy, I am not welcoming these unhealthy thoughts back after giving them to You.  Slay them on Your altar as a fresh gift from me.  Strengthen me to repel them.”  And mean it… mean every word.   Short of a miracle, your NPD parent will continue to be themselves and sin against you (even if you no longer live with them, they will find a way!).  So you are likely to have new offenses to forgive on a pretty regular basis.  Yep, sigh.  Forgiveness is not a one-time deed.  It is a conscious choice that you will have to make again, many, many times…at least that’s the goal.  Which leads me to the next myth.

3) “If I forgive someone, then we will be able to hang out together and have a satisfying relationship because they will have changed.”

OH, MY!  FALSE.  SOOOOOOOOO FALSE.

Let’s review the basis of affirming relationships, shall we?

  • – Valuing the other person for who they are, not what they can do for you.
  • – Seeing the best in the other person, desiring their good.
  • – Gently building them up in their weak spots.
  • – Recognizing that they belong to God first and that your relationship with them is a stewardship for which you will have to give an account.
  • – Addressing conflict in light of the other person’s God-given dignity, your/their sin natures, and the goals of repentance, restoration and unity.

Hmm.  In case you’re not sure, I can categorically state that these bear NO similarity to the mindset of a NPDer.  NONE.  In my non-professional opinion, a NPD parent is incapable of any affirming relationship with anyone, their child included.   After all, one of the defining characteristics of an NPDer is their sense of superiority over nearly everyone else.  Especially you (after all, you are JUST their kid).  The concept that they could be wrong about anything is unthinkable.  This is why they never have to take responsibility for their behavior nor do they need to apologize, like people do in healthy relationships.

So with a NPD parent, your forgiveness is rendered in obedience to God IN SPITE of your parent’s ongoing behavior.  It is not dependent on their repentance happening first.  It will not change your parent at all.  They have not repented, changed their ways, and sought reconciliation with you or with God.  (I mean, how can they repent when they are perfect, right?!?). Basically, they have no role in your labor of forgiveness. It’s entirely between you and God.  Its role is to transform you with healing.  It has nothing to do with them.

Which is why respectfully, even humbly, biblically approaching a NPD parent in order to point out their offense against you is a lost cause. *** A true NPDer does not speak the language of repentance, so it will serve only to confuse and inflame them.  Since our battle is not against flesh and blood, but rather the enemy who keeps our NPD parent in bondage, there is no profit in creating strife with them.  As far as it depends on you, live in peace with them.

***[Please note that this does not apply to grave matters concerning the law (ie., commission of a crime, abuse against yourself or others).   Then you must seek God and act with protection in place for your safety and that of others.  Appropriate civil authorities must be brought in, for that is their God-ordained function.  Also go with no expectation that they will repent.  In fact, they will likely turn the tables on you, attacking with intent to make you defensive.  It will be an unpleasant conversation at best, draining/devastating at worst.  Therefore marshal your spiritual and emotional resources before attempting any approach.  You will want people praying for you, and you will want to be prayed up. Prayer and fasting is paramount.]

The recovery rate among NPDers is minute.  Carolyn had one professional peg it around 1-5%.    I want to say this gently and not to depress you.  But in all likelihood, your NPD parent will not change.  Of course “nothing is impossible with God” (which is why I continue to pray that He will do a mighty work in my NPDer.  To date, I have prayed for two decades, without a visible “yes” answer…yet.  Yet.  🙂  I am more than willing to be amazed at God effecting change in such a heart.)

So, if you can keep a door to a redeemed, transformed possible future relationship with your NPD parent by lightly maintaining the relationship in the meantime, do it.  Then, if they recover, there will be a place for them in your life.  When I say “lightly maintain” the relationship, I mean this:  It is not safe for you to be intimate with them. They cannot use intimacy for any of the healthy purposes it was created for.  For them it is an opportunity to sin.  Therefore, be superficial.  Be vague.  Don’t give out unnecessary details that will just be used as ammunition against you.  Honoring your parent does not mean that they are entitled to every personal detail of your adult life or to interfering with your marriage or parenting.   Yes, you need to forgive them, but charity dictates that you not set them up to sin against you anymore than you can help.

Remember, God trumps your earthly parent.  He is the Master.  He is the REAL parent, the one who “subcontracted” the role to your earthly parents for a season.  If you are His servant, you belong to Him. Be wise about dealing with your NPDer, but don’t fear them.  You are in Your God-Daddy’s Arms.  To the extent that He directs you to meet their demands, do it. But not because of them.  Because of HIM :-)!!

You belong to Him.

Save the details for Him (He knows them already, but He loves it when we talk to Him).  He directs your life.  God is who you trust.  Go to Him in prayer and in His Word for your parental relationship needs.  Go deep with God.  (With your NPDer, stay out of the water if you can; if you must get in, stay in the baby pool! :-).

Seeking a counselor steeped in biblical wisdom and experienced with NPDers can equip you to effectively set boundaries for both your parent’s and your good.  They can help you role-play conversations so that you can confidently and lovingly set limits without getting rattled or losing your temper when your NPD parent pushes back against your healthy boundaries.  (I am NOT talking about worldly counseling where you are encouraged to do undisciplined things like exploding in anger, smacking pillows, screaming, and raging in letters.  Whatever your counselor suggests needs to agree with the Holy Spirit, who is foremost “power, love, and a sound mind.” So be discerning in your counselor choice if you go that route.)

 

Join us next week when I share from my experience with an excellent counselor some tips that I will pass onto you at NO CHARGE.

 

Toxic Tuesday: Narcissistic Parents Part 2

Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smallNovember 4, 2014 – Joy S.

Well, happy readers, thank you again to Carolyn for allowing me to rejoin you for Part 2 of Toxic Tuesday:  Narcissistic Personality Disordered Parent. In my last post, I promised to share strategies I’ve discovered for escaping unforgiveness toward a NPD parent.  Lest you think that I was “spiritual” enough to figure them out on my own, I will start with a disclaimer.

For the LONGEST time I knew forgiveness was the correct Christian response and I felt terribly guilty over my bitterness toward my NPD parent.  Sometimes I’d think that I was over the hurt.  Then something would reveal deep bitterness in my heart, and the cycle would begin again.  I questioned my salvation.  I knew there were other people who had truly forgiven their rapists, their child’s murderer, or the crook who stole their entire life savings.  Since these were all much worse tragedies than what I suffered, I thought maybe I wasn’t sufficiently motivated by obedience or love of God.   For years I lived with the pain of my parent’s abuse compounded by the guilt of unforgiveness/disobedience to God.  It took its toll.  I was diagnosed with clinical depression, took meds, went to lots of counseling (some of it super and some flakey!), and was tempted by cutting and suicide.

In reading the Bible, I would encounter passages like the parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Mt 18: 23-35):

  23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. 26 At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

      28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.  He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

31 “When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Well, that just chilled me to the marrow.  “I want to forgive!  I want to forgive!  Please show me how,” I’d pray.  I’d pick the brains of godly people who seemed at peace with the deep hurts they suffered.  Bless those saints for their patience with me.  I kept reading the Bible. Gradually I began to see what forgiveness was, and what it wasn’t.

So to start, let me clarify some common myths about forgiveness that may be stumbling you on your road to healing.

Myth #1). “If I forgive someone, then that’s the same as saying that they didn’t do anything very bad.  My painful feelings will be discounted.”

FALSE.

My pain was real.  Your pain is REAL, too.  I want to make it clear at the start that forgiveness toward the NPD parent doesn’t mean that your wounds are imaginary or slight.  Just because your NPD parent denies that they have ever done anything wrong and that you are “overly sensitive/crazy/unreasonable” doesn’t mean that it’s the Truth.

(You may feel, as I have, that it if only your scars had been from physical abuse, that at last you’d be believed, that you’d have proof of what you suffered, that others would understand why you hurt as you do and are wary of other’s motives.  Maybe you don’t have another person in your life who can understand what you’ve been through, your pain and pit of heartache that you can’t ever “happy thought” your way out of.  If so, let me be the first one to say, “I believe you.”  I do, promise.  And I KNOW you are NOT crazy.  :-)!!!  I believe you, because I have been there.  God protected me from the desperate acts of my pain so that I am still here to write this.  And because you’re reading this, I know He is doing the same thing for you.  He brought you to this post for HOPE.  If we were face to face right now, I would willingly listen to you tell me every memory from years ago, or just last week.  I would pass you tissues, nod my head in agreement, share stories of my own childhood and holiday nightmares, etc., and generally affirm YOU.  You didn’t bring this on yourself, you are not flawed (oh, absolutely not), and you are not a mistake.

Your life is not a mistake.  It is a marvelous tapestry woven by God’s nail-scarred Hand.  At this moment He’s working in some dark threads in order to make the bright colors pop all the more.  Your pain is the dark thread.  Forgiveness won’t change that thread’s color, anymore than it can remove the scar from His Hand.  But forgiveness repurposes the pain into beauty.  Trust Him.  When He’s done, your life will radiate His glory!)

But let’s get back to topic of Truth.  I want to as delicately as I can point out that my NPD parent wasn’t the only sinner in our relationship.  I was, too.  True, I didn’t have the same position of authority or responsibility that they had before God, but honesty compels me to admit that I often choose to sin against them out of spite for their unjust treatment of me.  Am I alone in this behavior? Hmmm?  I think you know what I am talking about.

Let me go another step further.  By myopically focusing on our parent’s faults and disorder, we risk missing a clear view of who we are in God’s eyes – selfish, little rebels against His sweet Love.  Listen, do you think you lived with an NPDer and did not have some of that rubbed off on you?  My NPD parent never thought they did anything wrong.  If they EVER apologized, it was usually five to ten years after their egregious behavior.  So, when I got married and my spouse and I had a fight, it was ALWAYS their fault, not mine.  ‘Cause I was perfect.  When I began to see that I was being just like my NPD parent – aahhhhh!!!! – I realized that my spouse wasn’t the first person I had treated like that.  In fact, unless I/you pray and ask God to show us the narcissistic habits we’ve picked up, and forgive us, and reprogram us by His Word, we are doomed to repeat our parent’s mistakes.  Whatever was done to you doesn’t absolve you of the guilt of doing those things now.

Nor does it relieve you of a need and duty to forgive.  Our unforgiveness is at least as loathsome to God as our NPD parent’s treatment of us.  Both make warped mirrors of the relationship between the Heavenly Father and His Child.  Both are far from His heart of love and His plan for the family.  So regardless of who is older, or knows better, or started the provocation, God expects us to pursue forgiveness.

Humor me for a moment, and revisit the Parable you just read.  Each of these servants knows that they are a debtor to the Master, with no other purpose but to please him. Except the rogue servant.  Obviously he didn’t get the memo about his job.  He thinks of the Master’s will as a side gig, not the main event.  Once he’s clobbered his fellow debtor, then he’ll get back to work.  His focus is on himself.  And his money.  He doesn’t care about the Master or the Master’s kindness to him.

Friends, this is me!  You!  Us!  If all you can think about is how you got ripped off when they were passing out parents, this is you.  You want your due, the debt owed you, paid.  I get that.  I used to spend considerable energy itemizing the bill I wanted paid – by my parent, by God for choosing that parent, by the world for my pain.  I was YOU.  The rogue servant. Funny thing though.  In all of my itemizing, I never calculated what I owed God, at least, not in detail, for the Cross, for His daily forgiveness of a hundred (that number may be a bit low!) selfish, unloving thoughts and actions.

Remember those dark threads of your life?  “Yeah, I know ALL about them,” you say.  I know you do.  I know you do.  But do you know as much about the brightly colored ones? Have you counted them?  Can you name them?

Have you ever made a list of those threads?

Here’s my partial list:

– For flannel sheets on chilly autumn nights.

– For the chocolate pumpkin bread recipe that reminds me of a particular happy childhood memory.

– For cute and comfy shoes that make me happy!

– For hot, steamy shower first thing in the morning.

– For breath.

– For mercy.

– For my parents who choose life for me in spite of their dead souls and a culture that legitimizes selfishness.

– For deliverance from things like pornography and alcohol that I could have become addicted to so easily based on examples I saw growing up.

– For the stupidity of bad decisions I made out of pain that will forever remind me that I am not as smart or capable as my narcissistic tendencies would have me believe.

– For bouts of depression that have equipped me to minister to some of the most precious, suffering people I’ve met.

– For another 24 hours to heal and help others heal.

– For a chance to welcome the orphan and stranger because I know the pain of feeling rejected and alone.

– For my family who knows what I struggle to overcome and bears with me on the days I fail.

– For a camaraderie among my closest friends, each with toxic or NPD parents in their life, who understand my sadness that I will likely never have the relationship with my earthly parent that I yearn for.

– For my generous God-Daddy who has redeemed me from the empty way of life handed down to me.

– For a new eternal family in Christ that far surpasses what I missed.

– For God’s Grace that His Spirit blinds my children to the bad example I often set, so that they love and obey him in a way that I didn’t at their age.

Listen, you may think you’ve been ripped off in some pretty unfair ways. But I guarantee you that your life is much richer than you know.  You think you have been beggared.  Well, if you have a real relationship with God based on His generous forgiveness and love lavished on you by Jesus’s death, then, my friend … YOU are a MILLIONAIRE in everything that matters or lasts.  (If you don’t have this relationship yet, you can!)

Make your list.  And please make it long… for your sake.  And then review it weekly and add to it. (If you need help, check out a superb book by Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.  It helped me tremendously.)

So before I move on, let me sum up the Truth here.  Yes, your pain is real, but it can live amidst great joy if you identify and meditate on your blessings.  God is the most generous Being in the Universe.  Whatever your loss, none of it is nearly as valuable as all the other blessings you’ve received from Him.  God’s great forgiveness to the unworthy and His scarred Hands both coexist without negating the other.  In the same way, forgiveness toward your NPDer and your wounds can coexist without diminishing each other.

 

And we’ll be back next Toxic Tuesday to tie this post together with myths 2 & 3.

 

Toxic Tuesday: ‘Christian’ Swingin’ Wife Swapping

Swingin’ for Jesus? “Christian” Couple swaps partners as “ministry”

False teachers abound!

This is so far out there it’s difficult to believe. But I do believe it! I also believe that if like-minded people such as those mentioned in the below article were administered the MMPI-2, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) which is the most widely used and researched standardized psychometric test of adult personality and psychopathology, they would possibly show patterns of having narcissistic personality disorder.

Most individuals with narcissistic personality disorder are sexually deviant; they find pleasure in acts of sexual activity that are often seen as “abnormal” “unnatural” or even “abusive” at times. ‘Swingin’ is sexually, emotionally and spiritually abusive and does not honor the marriage covenant between husband, wife and God.

Add to this one of the main signs of NPD, “I’m special and the rules don’t apply to me. That is what I do but it’s not who I am.” And there you have the formula for swingin’.

Also remember that people with NPD do no wrong and; therefore, have no need for the Savior. Sad but true.

I’m endured to the old sayin’, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it!”

Read Swingin’ for Jesus? “Christian” Couple Swaps Partners As “Ministry” by Steve Deace at Fear God. Tell the Truth. Make Money.  

 

 

 

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).

Teach Your Daughters to Fear God, Not Men!

A friend sent me this article via Facebook. This is an excellent read, recommended by Kirk Cameron, and I especially appreciate the call to the church to get involved when women are in these types of relationships. Great food for thought and more importantly for action. I’ll be re-reading and praying about this.

Click here to read this short article: Teach Your Daughters to Fear God, Not Men!.

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