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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Speaking the Truth in Love by Michael Rose

I think my good friend, Michael Rose, hit a homer on this one. Guest blogging it here!

spkgA famous comedian from the southern USA jokes that by simply adding the phrase “Bless her heart” to the end of a statement makes it somehow okay, no matter how harsh. For example: “That baby sure is ugly! Bless his little heart” or “Betsy sure looks fat in that dress. Bless her heart!”

We laugh, but Christian folks can say some pretty harsh things and attempt to justify it by claiming they are “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Too often, we Christians can cross the line and speak into something that is quite frankly, none of our business.

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Searching for Authentic Relationships in Church

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There is a God-impulse in the hearts of millions of believers around the world for what could be called “authentic relatithonships” in contrast to the relational sterility common in religious constructs. This pursuit is, in my opinion, birthed of God’s Spirit. However, there is no limit to the creative capacities of our carnal religious nature to ruin a beautiful thing!

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Praying into the Abyss of Despair

Praying into the Abyss of Despair

Praying into the Abyss of Despair

Sometimes our circumstances make us feel like we are standing on the edge of a dark and bottomless abyss of hopelessness. We pray, do all the things we know to do, have been told to do, trained to do (and then some), and nothing changes or things get worse.

The pressure can lead us to the brink of madness. Cliché Christian answers and the insensitivities of cheap canned theology of fellow Christians don’t help. Rather than identify with us in the darkness of the mystery of our circumstances, “Job’s comforters” type of Christians heap guilt, shame, introspection, fear, and anxiety upon us with: “There must be sin in your life” or “You just don’t have enough faith,” or this would not be happening to you. Both are lies.

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How Intimacy with the Lord Can Go Wrong: 'Intimacy Must have a Context Other Than Ourselves'

Intimacy Without Reproduction is a Deceptive Dead End

Intimacy Without Reproduction is a Deceptive Dead End

A body of water needs fresh inflow and regular outflow if it’s to avoid turning into a fetid, stagnant pond. Over-emphasized truth crimps the flow of our lives in one way or the other: on the input or output side. Without an outward focus and expression, the message of intimacy with the Lord will turn us into stinking spiritual ponds.

In the natural, the objective of intimacy is for reproduction. In the natural, frequent intimacy will usually result in another life unless unnaturally stopped–contraception. Teaching intimacy with the Lord, over, and over, and over, and over again without an “output” equivalency, is like spiritual contraception.

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When you DON’T get a breakthrough . . .

To many of you facing difficult, challenging, and painful circumstances:

I have been sharing lately at different venues how John the Baptist got the report from Jesus about the kingdom exploding for everyone else EXCEPT HIM! Go tell John: The blind see, the lame walk, the gospel is preached to the poor. That’s great! (John, you were wondering if I am the One. Yes John, I am, and by the way, I am not going to deliver you out of your circumstance and you are going to lose your head!)

Can you imagine what John went through emotionally when his OWN COUSIN, for whom he has virtually SHUT DOWN his own ministry for, for whom he paved the way . . . Yashua, DOESN’T GRANT HIM HIS DELIVERANCE MIRACLE?

Yet, Jesus was so moved at the news of John’s demise that he had to get away to be alone to process it. Sometimes the practical realities of sonship, only doing what you see your Father doing, is painful, at a deep level.

Think of how conflicted in His humanity Jesus was . . .  loving John, His own cousin, delivering, healing and freeing others, and yet His Father saying NO to him in John’s case?  Not emotionally easy. The scripture never promises us it will be.

He promises to be with us and in us, until the end of the age. He promises that there is nothing that overtakes us that is not common to humanity. He promises to never leave us, nor forsake us. He promises to lead and guide us, even in suffering, to know whether we are to resist in faith, or accept in faith. He promises that we WILL have trials and troubles in this life, regardless of how “carefully and scrupulously we obey God’s Word.” We obey because it is right to obey, because it is consistent with the new nature to obey, NOT because we demand, or it guarantees an expected outcome of  a “pain free life.”

Sometimes, we just don’t know why we experience the painful and difficult things that we do, and in those times, which we ALL will have sooner or later, the last thing we need is some jack-ass Christian spouting simplistic, naive, and WRONG quid pro quo theology about “open doors for the enemy”, “sin in your life” and such other nonsense.

We need to IDENTIFY with people in their suffering, not lecture them with biblical platitudes from the physical and emotional safety pockets of our tidy little untouched lives.  Jesus: a high priest TOUCHED with the feelings of our infirmities. We don’t want to be touched, we want to lecture sufferers with our biblical brilliance. Since when did we get off believing that if we just have “enough faith” that we will avoid suffering?”

We simply have no practical theology of suffering in our understanding of the gospel in America.

In it with you,
Steve
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.

Spiritual Abuse Recovery: The New Jezebel: 'How to Identify and Recover from Spiritual Abuse - You Are Not a Jezebel'

recovery from spiritual abuse

spiritual abuse recovery

Thousands around the world have been damaged by bad church experiences and are in need of spiritual abuse recovery. A church atmosphere of spiritual abuse normally has definable elements. An insular and isolated leadership culture is one of those elements. In doctrine, many of these cultures have the theology and language of servanthood. In practical expression, their leadership culture is one of hierarchy, elitism, secrecy, immunity, and privilege.

Many who have had a bad church experience, and are in various stages of spiritual abuse recovery from the hurt of that bad church experience, have to come to grips with a common ploy used by agendized leaders. That ploy is to label anyone who disagrees with them and their “authority” as a Jezebel. It is a persistent problem in many expressions of the body of Christ.

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Fully Alive

Anyone who has ever seriously pondered the human condition for any length of time, normally ends up at a universal set of basic questions:  “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” and “Where do I belong?”

Everyone, if still at all for a moment in his or her thoughts, longs for these things: a sense of being, a sense of purpose, and a sense of belonging. Our secular culture does a poor job of addressing these questions, (In our individualistic culture, particularly the sense of belonging). Our education system is based on acquiring information, not soul-wellness and life-functionality skills.

The soul pain that can come from never answering these questions is the source of much substance abuse. We will either find answers to these questions or we will medicate the pain of their absence. Some forms of medication are culturally, socially, and legally more acceptable than others. Being a workaholic is more acceptable to us than being an alcoholic, and being addicted to religion is more acceptable than being addicted to heroin, but these are all just narcotics for the soul, because we don’t know who we are, why we are here, and where we belong.

Often people turn to “the church” or “religion” looking for these answers, only to be sadly disappointed. Hoping to find meaningful answers to the deepest questions of the human soul, honest inquirers are instead met with insipid moralism, institutional inertia, corruption, ambition, the love of money, organizational politics, and petty jealousies. In many cases, Christianity, as it is commonly known and expressed, is the poster-child for irrelevance to anything that matters to the human soul. This should not be so, and it is to our great shame that those who profess Christ are often so inept at sharing what really matters. For this, we ask forgiveness.

It can be difficult to understand that it is often necessary to separate what Jesus Christ offers from what the “church” offers. They are not the same. In Him, you will discover that you are loved, and your identity in Him is: “beloved son/daughter/child.” In Him, you will discover that you are graced from heaven with unique talents and abilities that only you can provide to a world that needs them and is waiting for them. In Him, you will discover that there is a family, a real family, not an organization, of other fellow pilgrims where you belong in loving relationship.

A friend of mine once counseled me with advice that changed my life. Knowing my own inclination to try to work hard to make life better for myself (and others) he told me: “Steve, the world is not waiting for you to be more perfect. The world is waiting for you to be fully alive.”

What does it mean to be fully alive? To know who I am, to know what I have to give, and to know where to give it. Jesus is alive from the dead, so I can be fully alive. You can be too.

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.

Are you “Burned Out?”

Few things are as exhausting as doing something you are not suited for by gift (Christ-endowment), temperament, and calling. Regrettably, that is the norm for many believers based out of well-meaning but misguided understanding of faithfulness, love, and service to and for “the church.” We live like we are pack mules for ministry instead of sons and daughters of the Most High. We function out of religious obligation and moralistic duty, rather than from Spirit-empowerment. We either do not know how, or are not given permission to say: “No.”

A passive, indifferent, or ignorant attitude toward the gifts of the Spirit is not humility and submission to the providence of God. It’s the willful neglect of someone in need. When we fail to acknowledge who we are in Him, and what we have in Him, and don’t pass around our spiritual gifts, we are defrauding other members of the Body. The deposit of Christ in me has been given with the sole intent of spreading it around! It’s designed to meet the needs of others in the church and world. The gifts of the Spirit are not designed to provide weekly thrills for you and me in a church service.[i] However, if I have no sense of personhood and place (context, belonging), I can’t pass around what I am unaware of. Attempting to “be a Christian” by doing acts of love and service that are inconsistent with my identity (the unique image of God in me) will inevitably result in something called burnout.

Though usually regarded as the result of trying to give too much, burn out is the ultimate in giving too little. Burnout is indeed a state of emptiness, but it doesn’t result from giving all I have. It results from giving out of the nothingness from which I was trying to give in the first place.[ii] When the gift I give to another is integral to my identity in Christ, when it comes from a place of organic reality within me, it will renew itself—and me—even as I give it away. Only when I give something away that doesn’t flow within me do I deplete myself, and harm the other as well, for only harm can come from a gift that is forced, inorganic, or unreal.[iii] When I give something I don’t possess, I give a false and dangerous gift that looks like love but is, in reality, loveless.  It’s a gift given more from my need to prove myself and to be validated in other’s opinions of me, than from someone’s need to be cared for.[iv]

To honor our new creation nature means to acknowledge our limits as well as our potentials.  Caring for ourselves is not inherently selfish in a carnal way. Caring for ourselves fulfills 1Peter 4:10 by acting as a good steward of the only gift I have. I can’t offer to others what I have destroyed or neglected in myself. Limitations and liabilities are the flip side of our gifts. We are designed to live in a creative tension between our limits and our potentials.[v]

Limitations are transformed into serviceable instruments for kingdom advance the moment we get serious about them. We must honor our limitations in ways that do not distort our nature, and we must trust and use our gifts in ways that fulfill the potentials that God gave us.[vi] Our talents and limitations make up the total package of who we are. There is really no chance of integrated human personality or fruitful kingdom expression, until we come to a place of self-acceptance. I am not endorsing egocentric self-love, or being soft on sin. I’m talking about agreeing with what God has determined about me: my strengths and weaknesses. Mental and physiological health begins here. The powerful verse in Philemon 6 says that effective Christian living and transference of that life begins by acknowledging (experientially entering into) every good thing that is in me, in Christ Jesus.

This means it is “ok” to say “no” to demands and requests for which I am not suited. Saying no actually honors God. In small church environments where leaders are looking for any warm body to fill a need, there can be tremendous pressure to say “yes” to every request from leadership. Insecure leaders that don’t correctly understand their own identities and callings, can interpret “no” from a subordinate as being uncommitted to the vision, unsubmissive, or unwilling to serve. In reality, the person saying “no” just might be completely committed to the identity God has given him or her and has learned to honor Christ by saying no to things he or she is not suited for.

It has been my experience that the Lord will honor the “any-warm-body-will do” methodology for a season. However, ultimately His grace follows His endowment. If from a flawed definition of loyalty and service we expect people to do things they’re not endowed to do, we must not act surprised when we get the logical results of failing the grace of God.  Painful problems are imminent if systems and expectations don’t adapt and develop into a transformational-grace endowment and Christ awareness ethos instead of an any-warm-body, loyalty, and service ethos.

Satisfying fruitfulness is the birthright of every child of God. Burnout is a ripoff and if we find ourselves there, we need to get help, as something in the foundation of our faith, and our understanding of the Christian life is very askew.

Copyright 2012 This blog is an excerpt from our book: HEALING: HOPE OR HYPE? by Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, Eloquent Books, New York.  www.drstevecrosby.wordpress.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.


[i] I recently saw a billboard advertisement of a church that promoted itself as: “The Church of Excitement.”  If that doesn’t say it all about how broken our value systems are, I don’t know what will. Since when is the essence of Christianity excitement?  Only in an over-stimulated and cathartically addicted culture like ours.

[ii] Parker Palmer. Let Your Life Speak. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 2000. 49.

[iii] Ibid., 49-50.

[iv] Ibid., 48

[v] Ibid., 52.

[vi] Ibid., 55.