Hurt in Church? Get Past Your Past – Jesus Heals

SPiritual Abuse - How to Overcome It

Overcoming Spiritual Abuse

Folks with unhealed emotional damage from “church-world,'” will always view with suspicion the deep, healthy, and fulfilling mutual kingdom relationships others have one with another. They will see ill-motive, agenda, and dysfunction where none truly exists. They can’t get past their past. They assume that the present reality of others is the same as their past reality. It is unfortunate.

Perfectionistic, rationalistic, suspicious, skeptical, unbelief is not “discernment.” It is normally just people who have been badly hurt, trying to protect themselves from being hurt again, which is understandable, naturally speaking. Folks need space to process healing. Step-by step. You can’t rush someone past the stage of healing the Spirit is taking them through. But that does assume engagement in a process of healing, not bonding and forming an identity with one’s woundedness and eternally commiserating with those folks who are determined to not be healed.

If unhealed, that kind of person will end up in a church of one: themselves. Because, no one will ever be “right enough,” or no one “safe enough,” or no one “worthy enough” or “whole enough” for he/she to relationally invest in-LONG TERM. They will constantly separate, go from group to group, trying to find perfection only to live in cycles of chronic, reactionary, disappointment. Love involves risk, and risk involves the possibility of pain. Closed hearts cannot know love. Jesus is ready, willing, and able to do better than what we can do for ourselves by locking our selves down in a prison house of judgmental, isolationist, skepticism and calling it “safety” and “freedom from religion.” The only one we are fooling is ourselves.

God knows the unique circumstances of each of His children. There is no one-size-fits all “path” to healing. But healing is the prescription for us all.

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Copyright 2014,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.stevecrosby.org. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephrcrosby@gmail.com.

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“Dysfunction Junction” – Has No Unction!

beijingtibetGod is magnificently redemptive. None of us would have any hope if that were not the case. Yet we must not confuse His redemption for His approval. Many people abiding in or gathered in dysfunction, is not the kingdom Jesus died for. Our redemption includes the healing/reconfiguration of Adamic brokenness, not the normalization of it “under grace.”

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Love Pirates!: 'Agape versus Eros'

Flying the Jolly roger of eros

Love Pirates

The following is an excerpt from our upcoming book: Money and the Church: A Better Way to Live and Give.

Greek is a far more precise language than English.  In English, love is a very obtuse term. I can love my wife, hot dogs, and my car. I hope there would be a difference, but our language doesn’t help the distinction!

In Greek there are four words commonly used for love: agape, phileo, eros and storge.   Eros refers to any love that is self-centered, not just the familiar sexual aspect. Eros is often quite clean and respectable. It presents itself as something that it’s not. Any love that under the surface has self-satisfaction and self-gratification as its motive is erotic. The Greek symbol for eros was a snake swallowing its own tail, consuming itself. Eros can be deeply set in the ethics of many faith communities.

We can believe we are ambassadors for the love of God, when in reality we are spiritual pirates. We run up the flag of love for others, but when people get close to us, they discover the Jolly Roger of eros:

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Equipper’s Survival Guide

PressureSpiritual abuse is like finding a coin in your backyard. There are two sides to it, and they are both dirty.

I certainly have no time for ambitious, authority-addled manipulators who use and abuse the ekklesia in the name of God to satisfy their own need for greatness: pimping the saints for their own needs, milking them of their time, talent, and treasure for ego-validating dreams and plans.

Yet, there are also thousands of humble, self-sacrificing, and faithful men and women who tirelessly serve the ekklesia in love, who struggle to keep their sanity as they face the onslaughts of the adversary, their own brokenness, and alas, miserable treatment by the ones they serve: being pimped for other’s needs and being told it is “serving the body.” Sacrifice for others? Yes. Pimping? No.

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What Does “Kingdom Government” Look Like?

Key to my heartKingdom government is not about authority and ruling. It is about restoring and replicating in humanity, the love the Father and Son have for, and in, each other. Where love is perfected, authority is not necessary. There is no hierarchy, government or “ruling over” in the Trinity. Just shared, interpenetrating, eternal, self-sacrificial love!

Do a word study some time on the “God is” statements of scripture. You will find things like: God is love, God is righteous, God is true, etc. What will be conspicuously absent is: “God is authority.” Why?

Where love is perfected, there is nothing to “rule!”

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Doing Life Backwards Causes Us To Fail – by Edward Kurath

Rear view of a young woman holding a paint roller“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10 NKJV).

This is a typical English translation.  It implies that if we keep God’s commandments, we will abide in His love.

If this is correct, then this implies that God loves Jesus because Jesus keeps His commandments.  After all, Jesus is here making a parallel between His relationship with the Father and our relationship with the Father (“just as?). 

So then God’s love of Jesus is conditional? What an affront to God!

Fortunately, this translation of the Greek is in error.  It is backwards.  What the Greek really says is that if we abide in God’s love, we will keep His commandments.    Keeping His commandments is the result, not the cause.  In the Greek, keeping God’s commands is in the “accusative” case, what in English is referred to as the direct object.  The direct object (the effect) receives the action of the subject (the cause).

In the typical English translation, the cause and effect are reversed. 

What Jesus is really saying is that the reason He keeps God’s commandments is because of the presence of God’s love in Him.  He has a “good root” in Him which impels Him to live a Godly life.  Likewise (“just as”), if we have a “good root” (Jesus in us), then we will keep God’s commandments, not the other way around.

The horse is supposed to pull the cart.

Tragically, the typical English translation impels believers to strive to keep God’s commandments so that God will love them.  They are doomed to failure, because we can’t love God by trying hard.  If we could do it, Jesus died in vain.

How do we get Jesus “in us?”  That is what my book “I Will Give You Rest” explains.

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Copyright 2012. This article is posted here by permission of Ed Kurath, www.divinelydesigned.com. Please contact edkurath@divinelydesigned.com for forward and reprint permissions.

QUIT PRAYING!

We do not need to pray about that which God has made explicitly clear in his revealed Word! This is hardly hot news to most of you. However, this principle is regularly violated and abused by many well-meaning believers, some not so well-meaning.  

It is inappropriate to pray, when God is asking for responsive obedience.  I regularly interact with Christians who use a pseudo-spiritual cloak of prayer to cover impenitent self-will, rebellion, disobedience, and fear of the unknown or what they cannot control and manage. Fearful controllers will always leverage “we need to pray more” to their advantage. It is a particular plague among “prophetic” believers.  By that I mean Christians who believe, as I do, that the voice of God can still be heard and discerned in the redeemed human spirit. The closed canon does not render God a mute.

Believers often engage in a manipulative spirit when they say,  “I have prayed about it and the Lord told me I must .  . .” This is not the language of mutual respect and dialog.  It is the language of spiritual ultimatum—spiritual blackmail.  It is impossible to interact with people who use this type of language, without stepping all over their prayer life and self-perceived spirituality. How can you or I compete with God? How can you or I give any input to people who believe the Almighty has definitively spoken to them? You can’t reach a soul that is locked down with “God told me.”

It is common charismatic lingo used to keep others at a comfortable distance and to justify whatever notion may pop into our heads to do. You do not need to pray about whether or not you should abandon your wife, cheat on our taxes, have an affair, or other such nonsense. The answer is NO! Quit praying!

You might say, Steve, don’t be so silly, this is obvious. Well, let me briefly rehearse two true stories so I can convince you that this is not silly, nor always obvious, but rather an epidemic problem.

I once had to deal with a situation where a wife and mother of eight children was caught fornicating with her boss. Not rumor . . . in the act. She was the wife of an elder in another  church. When confronted, her response was: “Well, I’ve prayed about it, and I was trying to lead him to the Lord!”  Yes, indeedeeee folks, fornicating for Jesus. That’s some evangelism technique. She was deadly serious, and this was not some “new convert” who fell off the turnip truck yesterday.

I was once in a “city-wide pastors unity meeting” (yuck) of all the so-called “gate-keepers” (yuck) of the city. An older gentleman there began to share that he felt a call to a certain city, but that his wife did not want to go. He “prayed about it” and “felt” he was to leave his wife and “fulfill his calling” as the calling is the most important thing. Every leader in the room justified the man, encouraged him, except myself and one other brother (We were accused of being negative, judgmental and elitists.). Oh, and by the way, the wife of this man was a wheelchair bound invalid on oxygen. Well, with the “endorsement” of the stone-blind “gatekeepers of the city,” he left his wife and “started his ministry,” with the obvious results of disaster. His marriage and his ministry failed . . . well, as Gomer Pyle used to say: “Suhprise, suhprise, suhprise . . .”

These are not isolated incidents. Folks, you may have no idea of the sheer corruption and nonsense that goes on behind closed doors at “leadership levels.” Reason among many that the way we have been conducting ourselves regarding “leadership” needs a complete overhaul.

You don’t need to pray about some things. The answer is NO! And if the so-called “city gate keepers” are that stone-blind and ignorant . . . what does that say about all our pretention to spiritual significance, “cutting edge” this and that, and spiritual “gate keepers?” What a pile of excrement.

Praying to God for hours to bring “revival,” save souls, or whatever we may want Him to do on our behalf, is useless if He is requiring repentance and reconciliation. This is particularly true concerning interpersonal relationships. It is easier to talk and pray about unity and revival than to get real and deal with the  breaches in relationship that prevent unity in the first place!  Most American Christians simply do not have the stomach for the hard work required for biblical interpersonal reality.  They will leave a church rather than resolve relational difficulties. (Of course, they will pray for unity and revival at the next church they bless with their presence!).

An individual undergoing a crucifixion experience, is not helped by the prayers of others for blessing and escape. Believers with an unsanctified mercy or compassion gift frequently err in this regard. Sentimental prayer based on human analysis of circumstances and a soulish desire to spare people from difficulty, often runs counter to God’s redemptive purposes. We must always pray in wisdom with a God-perspective.  If we do not know how to pray, well, that’s what the indwelling Holy Spirit is for—get to know Him and let Him pray through you.

Endless prayer over the same issue or pending action, can be a cloak for unbelief, passivity, fear, timidity, and faithlessness.  When God is calling for faith action, it is inappropriate to keep praying.  ACT don’t PRAY! 

Moses at the Red Sea is a classic scriptural example. When faced with an impossibility, he cried out to God.  God reproved him for his prayer and exhorted him to use what was in his hand.  Moses’s rod can represent many things: authority, the anointing, etc. Simply, it represents what has already been provided and what has proven effective.  For the believer, this is the Word of God, the indwelling Spirit, our union with Him and with one another, and our confidence as His sons and daughters. 

Vacillation and indecisiveness are not fruits of the Spirit—better to be bold and decisive and have to compensate for mistakes, than to be immobile and right too late!  No decision is a decision.  God’s admonition to Joshua wasn’t “be cautious and be careful,” but rather “be bold and be strong.” Individuals who insist on “more prayer” may be yielding to a human (or demonic) spirit that requires absolute assurance in every detail before stepping out in faith.  This is a religious manifestation of a perfectionistic,  emasculated spirit, not godly virtue. The way of faith always encompasses a degree of uncertainty and risk.

Many in the ekklesia, for whatever reason, are severely damaged in this area.  Change, risk, and abandonment to God are more than they can emotionally,  spiritually, psychologically, and sometimes culturally handle. When confronted with a faith response requirement that affects them personally, they can suffer near personality disintegration. These dear individuals simply must get help, healing, and deliverance, either sovereignly from God or mediated through competent ministry.

Pragmatism often masquerades in the ekklesia as wisdom. Many believers’ minds are deeply impregnated with worldly and culturally conditioned concepts of wisdom, prudence, and caution that impersonate godly virtues.  The world’s wisdom is devilish, and inordinate caution is the protective mantra of the fearful.   

Godly wisdom and faith are two valid biblical virtues maintained in tension by divine design.  They are like a kite and string: wisdom is the string that enables the kite of faith to arise and stay in a proper sphere.  The kite of faith keeps the string of wisdom from being earth-bound. Healthy Christianity requires both.

However, the overall tenor of the New Testament is that faith is the superior and eternal virtue. Faith is the short-supply commodity the Lord seeks in his people and in the earth.  If we must err, err to the side of bold faith–it is what the Lord is looking for.

Inappropriate prayer is simply a manifestation of the carnal mind in rebellion against God, masquerading in religious garb.  The in-working of the cross  and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit are God’s provision and remedy. The disciples asked the Lord to teach them to pray (Lk. 11:1-13).  He promised that the Father would give the Holy Spirit to that very end, if we persist in asking for Him. We have the same confidence and more because the Teacher and the Spirit of prayer is now within us,  forever, to the end of the age.

Let’s stop the nonsense. Lets can the hyper-spiritual lingo. Let’s be real people and let’s not cloak our disobedience with prayer.


Copyright 2012,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.

 

The Offense of Radical Grace

Judge Shaking FingerGod uses very flawed, damaged, and “imperfect” people to accomplish great things for His kingdom interests.  After all, damaged, imperfect, and flawed people are all He has to work with to begin with, including you and I! The expansion of His kingdom is not held hostage to the development of our character. Faith works by love, not by holiness and this is offensive to all spiritual over-achievers.

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The Other Guy is . . .

Our Candidate is . . . . . .Their Candidate is . . .

TOLERANT                                     LACKING CONVICTION

JUST HUMAN                                UNETHICAL

FRUGAL                                           STINGY

CARING                                            A SENTIMENTALIST

HONEST                                           INSENSITIVE

HOPEFUL                                        NAÏVE

A REALIST                                       TOO NEGATIVE

SENSITIVE                                      LACKING COURAGE

FORGETFUL                                   INSINCERE

JUST                                                  UNFORGIVING

NUANCED                                       INCONSISTENT

HONESTLY MISTAKEN               DECEIVED

GENEROUS                                     A SPENDTHRIFT

A PEACE MAKER                           A COMPROMISER

HARD WORKING                          DRIVEN BY AMBITION

EASY GOING                                   LAZY

DISCIPLINED                                  WOUND TOO TIGHT

DISCERNING                                  JUDGMENTAL

HUMAN                                            AN IDIOT

LOVING                                            SENTIMENTAL

A DISCIPLINARIAN                      HARSH

COMMITTED                                  RIGID

MERCIFUL                                      WISHY-WASHY

VERY SOCIAL                                 A BROWN-NOSER

UNDERSTANDING                        SPINELESS

DELIBERATIVE                              INDECISIVE

BOLD                                                 RISKY

RELIABLE                                        A SLAVE TO ROUTINE

DECISIVE                                         SHORT-SIGHTED

SOPHISTICATED                           A SNOB

PRINCIPLED                                  INFLEXIBLE

DETAIL ORIENTED                      OBSESSIVE

ORDERED                                        CONTROLLING

GROWS PERSONALLY                 NO CORE CONVICTIONS

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Copyright 2012,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.

What About Holiness?

It is easy and cheap to exhort/preach/teach/correct “immature” people to “standards of holiness.”

You can browbeat people into holiness. But the result well be a well-managed, orderly, neat, prim and proper . . .  prison camp, not the beautiful bride and body of Christ. You can get behavior modification if you preach holiness hard enough. The unregenerate nature loves to perform to standard, especially if incentivized with the prospect or religious reward or promotion in religious systems as a result. Shoot, you do not even need the Spirit of God, nor need to be born again to modify ones behavior to “biblical standards.” Lots of cultists do exactly that.

On the other hand, it is difficult and costly to lay our lives down for weak, failing, “morally deficient” human beings/believers,  manifesting incarnational love, gain access into their hearts, and once safely in their hearts, like a father with his children, reveal the Holy One, who Himself, will bring forth “holiness” as a fruit of the life and love of God exchanged between people in love with each other.

When the foundations of love (the REAL thing, not the cheap stuff we prattle on about) are established, the fruit of holiness is as logical an outcome as green grass after a rain. Trying to establish holiness without love will inevitably produce one of two outcomes: A culture of resentment toward authority, or a culture of legalism.

Copyright 2012,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.