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Archive for May, 2010


Refer to STEP 9: Humbly ask God to change anything He desires.

I’ve learned what attracts someone to Christ is kindness, mercy, love, and acceptance—not being a judgmental, self-righteous Christian. Isn’t that what drew you to Him—His love and His mercy? If He was merciful to you, shouldn’t you follow suit and be merciful to others? In a world full of condemnation, shouldn’t those who know the Lord practice love and acceptance rather than being so judgmental?

When someone told me God loved me in spite of all my difficulties, my heart melted—and so did my resistance. Wasn’t that your experience as well?

My experience was real when I first believed, but it still required decades for the fruit in my life to be fully developed. As I was developing, there were those who thought I should have matured much sooner. Because I didn’t, they heaped condemnation on me repeatedly. For a while, it seemed like I would never be free of their misanthropy. Unfortunately, Christianity is overflowing with people who are more than willing to be your Holy Spirit, routinely condemning you for behavior they don’t approve of.

That’s where patience and loving one another unconditionally comes in. The Lord has been very patient with me—unlike many Christians. He’s patient with most of His children. It’s because He wants each of us to be everything we’re capable of being and, for some of us, it requires longer than others—occasionally, much longer.

Take a look at Psalm 1. The tree planted by running water yielded its fruit “in its season” and not before. No matter how much an apple is scolded for not ripening sooner, it requires a precise amount of time to be everything it’s meant to be—time measured by God’s clock and not anyone else’s. That’s why we have to be so patient and merciful with our Christian friends. Their fruit may not be ready yet, and there’s no way to make it ready until it is. Green fruit is sour and difficult to digest. Ripened fruit, however, is sweet, nutritious, and satisfying.

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Refer to STEP 4: I recognize that God is not the abuser; people who misuse their authority are the abusers.

One of the main reasons abuse goes unrecognized an unacknowledged is that Christians are more than willing to give abusers “a pass” on their behavior, especially when the abuse was a verbal attack. Well meaning people often say things like these:

  • I know you were hurt by that, but the pastor didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.
  • You just misunderstood; that’s all. You’re just too sensitive.
  • It’s not nearly as big of a deal as you’re making it out to be.
  • He would never hurt you on purpose. He’s been under a lot of stress lately, but I’m sure he meant you know harm.

In Christian circles, this is not only what people say; it’s what they believe—firmly believe. For those who have experienced the abuse, they know deep inside of them that this isn’t really the case. Because they hear a steady stream of justification from others, however, they often come to believe that they must have been mistaken. They still experience the pain, but they view their situation through the rose colored glasses of Christian political correctness.

Instead, what they should do is confront the situation head-on, which rarely happens. If the abuser is confronted and no abuse was intended, the abusive person will immediately come to the light, admit their fault, and be willing to reconcile. If the person has an abusive spirit, they will never come to the light. Instead, they will deflect, rationalize, or explain their behavior in a way that justifies what they have done; but they will never come to the light. They can’t. Although they might preach powerful messages about the Lord, they live in the darkness and are never willing to be repentant. It’s simply not in their nature of an abusive person to do so.

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Refer to STEP 4: I recognize that God is not the abuser; people who misuse their authority are the abusers.

In the scriptures, it’s clear that there is “no condemnation” for those who have a relationship with Christ. It’s taken away—removed as far as the east is from the west. It’s no longer an issue between God and man. It has been resolved, freeing mankind from the wages of self-defeating behavior. In fact, there is no principle in Scripture that is clearer than the fact that there is “no codemnation” for believers.

At the same time, it’s the weapon of choice for most religious abusers. They wield condemnation like a sword, constantly pointing their sword-like finger at people, scolding them for the way they behave and even for the way they think. Because the abuser is in a position of power, the condemnation they heap upon otheres resonates, finding fertile ground in the soil of the abused person’s heart.

Even though the Bible is clear that the issue of condemnation has been resolved, abusees accept it as if it were true repeatedly. As a result, the abused person recoils, accepting their castigation as true—as if it came from God Himself, which it definitely did not.

God is not the author of abuse. Those who use their authority inappropriately are the abusers. Sadly, most abused people get this simple truth confused, paying a heavy price as a result.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can either believe what your abuser says, or you can believe what the Scriptures teach. The former leads to enslavement; the latter to freedom and emotional health. If you have accepted your condemnation as true, which most abused people have, there is hope for you. Your freedom can come quickly. All you have to do is believe what God says about you and not what your abusre says. It’s as simple as that.

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A Prayer to Be a Good Witness


Father,

I’m so grateful for all that you have done for me,

So honored that you would love me,

And be mindful of my needs.

On my best days,

When I am at peace and rest,

Confident that You are in charge

And that I need not worry,

I know how blessed I am.

Help me live like this each day;

Help me show others that You are there;

That You care;

That You are always in charge.

Let people see by my faith

That I have confidence in You;

That Your ways are always the best;

Always the wisest.

Help me to not be boastful or arrogant;

And let pride be far from me,

Knowing that this too would be my witness;

Pushing those You love away,

Rather than drawing them nearer to You.

Help me be mindful that whatever I do,

Good or bad,

It is a reflection on You.

—Amen—

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Refer to STEP 11: I made a commitment to nurture my relationship with the Lord, asking Him to reveal His will to me and to provide me with the power to carry it out.

Christian doctrine states that man’s nature is sinful and separated from God, but we always seem to be surprised when someone acts sinfully. We’ve sanitized our churches so thoroughly that sinners don’t feel comfortable coming to church. They don’t believe they are good enough to come, and they are right. Church has become the home for self-righteous people—not sinners.

With nowhere else to turnout of pain and despair, people by the millions turn to alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity to relieve their pain. For a while, it seems to work, but then the negative consequences of such behavior sets in, destroying the life and the self-worth of the person.

When this happens, they should be welcomed with open arms by churches but, more often than not, self-righteous Christians make it too uncomfortable for them to come. So where do these people go? They go to AA, NA, ALANON, and dozens of other 12 Step groups where they are accepted just as they are by the “God of their understanding,” which more often than not isn’t Christ—not a scripturally accurate Christ.

If you think I’m overstating this, imagine bringing fifty recovering alcoholics to your church next Sunday–not two or three, fifty. What would the reception be like? Would they be accepted with open arms? It’s highly unlikely, but they would be accepted with open arms at AA.

You can also see it in Christian bookstores, which increasingly are monuments to irrelevancy. They are filled with these types of books:

1. Sappy books about Christian platitudes.

2. Positive thinking books with a Christian slant.

3. Prosperity books—name it and claim it.

4. Non-sexual romantic novels.

5. Thousands of Bibles translated hundreds of ways.

Christian publishers stay away from anything controversial—anything edgy. They are afraid of offending the self-righteous. Instead, they publish more and more about less and less, as they tout one poofy-haired, obese evangelist after the other in an endless quest to increase the bottom line.

There’s nothing published like My Utmost for His Highest any more—nothing challenging or edgy. Nothing of real substantive value. It just doesn’t happen. A culture of fear exists in Christian publishing companies just as it does in Christian churches. Both increase their cultural irrelevance every year, while Islam marches forward throughout Europe with its tentacles reaching into the heart of America itself, perhaps even into the White House.

We’re in trouble—deep trouble, and most Christian leaders lack the courage to withstand the wind let alone march into it.

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Refer to STEP 10: I believed that God still has a purpose for my life—a purpose for good and not evil.

I remember when I was much younger. As a new Christian, we would scour the beaches of Southern California witnessing for Christ, sharing the 4 Spiritual Laws with all who would listen. Later, when we returned to Campus Crusade headquarters in Arrowhead Springs, kids would share their experiences publicly and privately. Routinely, kids would say, “I led three people to Christ,” or “I introduced a guy who was really searching to Christ today.”

The perception was that the person who was doing the witnessing was responsible for the person being saved, and many were very boastful about it. For me, the whole process was difficult because I didn’t like to intrude on people sunbathing, promoting Christ to them during their recreational time, especially when I was uninvited. But what has stuck with me the most from that time is this: all I could do was tell the story.

I had nothing to do with “saving” the person—not a thing. To believe otherwise is ludicrous, nonsensical, and unscriptural. I don’t have the power to “save” anyone; nobody does. Furthermore, my attempts at promoting Christ seem to have been counterproductive.

As an alternative approach, over the years I’ve thought about Christ drawing people to Himself, if He is lifted up. Lifting Him up is my responsibility—not badgering people. There’s a big difference. It’s the same with heping people recover from religious abuse.

I have a responsibility to help others, if that’s what they want. If they don’t, all of my efforts to help them will be futile, falling on deaf ears. When it’s their time—and not before—I need to be available for them. That’s the way it is for all of us, regardless of the type of recovery program we’re working. Promotion doesn’t work; attraction does. So if you want to help someone—really help them—work at your own recovery. If your life manifests love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness, then there will always be an abundance of people in need of your help.

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Refer to STEP 11: I make a commitment to nurture my relationship with God, asking Him to reveal His will to me as well as the power to carry it out.

We, as Christians, have the mistaken notion that we are okay the way we are, regardless of how we act, how we treat others, or how we think. We want to be milquetoastish and believe that being wishy-washy is acceptable to God and everybody else. We want to be strong believers, while at the same time making certain we don’t offend anyone else. In this way, we are more culturally Christian than heart-felt believers. If this was as bad as it was, it would be one thing; but it’s actually worse than this—much worse.

Over the years, in a very subtle, insidious way, we have become unwilling to stand firmly in the face of a culture that has grown increasingly hostile toward Christianity, choosing instead to wring our hands in despair. Wanting to be appear enlightened and accepting of other paths, we have allowed our beliefs to be trumped by the political correctness of the culture. As men, we’ve lost our rocks and, as women, we’ve lost our focus.

We blame the liberals and non-believers for the decline in our society, while never taking a good, hard, penetrating look at ourselves. We pass emails by the thousands that remind us about the “good old days,” while never considering that we are more responsible for societal decline than the liberals we repeatedly castigate.

Instead of hand-wringing and endless emails about how the liberals are destroying our country, maybe we should look back to the behavior of our Founding Fathers. Routinely, during the Colonial and Revolutionary era, there were days of fasting and prayer. There were also days of repentance back then, which would never be acceptable with the lukewarm crowd in churches these days. Remember, repentance might offend the politically correct crowd, but it would never offend the Lord.

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