Calling Good, Evil and Evil, Good

These Last Days are RIFE with an inversion explosion.

Today alone, I’m seeing headlines regarding polyamory, gender bending and inclusion, rumors of wars, predictive programming regarding political candidates on both (all?) sides of the (various!) aisles, and by the way, yes we’re hearing from extra-terrestrial aliens, oh oops our bad, no we’re not …

We are living in days that .. wow, I’m (only!) 40 years old, and I am JUST old enough to be able to admit that I NEVER predicted it would look like this.  That’s admittedly a condemnation on my OWN lack of self-awareness and education.  I humbly confess.  But the fact remains, GOD predicted this day would come, and that we would want our ears tickled, and we would FAIL (absolutely FAIL!) to be lovers of the truth .. and yet if we would be WITH God, we must worship Him in Spirit AND in Truth!!  (John 4:19-26 NKJV)

Brothers and Sisters, PLEASE do not grow weary in doing good, especially to those of the household of Faith .. for in due season?  If we do not give up?  But rather if we Persevere?  And we are faithful to adhere to the very WORD of the Living God?  We will REAP if we ENDURE to the End.  But we MUST endure!  (Matthew 24:3-14 NKJV)

Oh my dears. 😦❤

There is so much I could “blog” about.  So much I could say that would turn MOST of your heads, to the degree many of you would look at even me as some kind of contemporary heretic.  If I were to say all that I am seeing, all that I am thinking .. though I am not concerning myself with all these things  –  We can only “do” what we “can” with what we “have” .. but ..

ABOVE ALL!  We have the SURE and certain promises of our God, the one true GOD, and HE is faithful.  HE is all-powerful.  HE has KNOWN the End from the BEGINNING.  He is NOT surprised, he is NOT willing that any should perish, and he is NOT now, and never shall be, thwarted in HIS good purposes.  (Isaiah 46:5-13 NKJV)

Our Spiritual Enemy comes in to steal, kill and destroy!  (John 10, NKJV) Our Spiritual Enemy is the one who BREEEEEEATHES accusation against the brethren!  (Revelation 12:7-17 NKJV)  Our Spiritual Enemy is the one who disguises himself (themselves) as an angel of “light” .. (2 Corinthians 11:12-15 NKJV) and it is incumbent upon ALL of us to be DISCERNING in These Last Days!

Because ALL the world around us is going to be CONVINCED that Evil is Good, and Good is Evil.  We are wrestling NOT against (mere) flesh and blood, but against Powers and Princes and Principalities of the air .. Extra-dimensional .. (Hmmm .. Extra-terrestrial if you prefer?) .. (Ephesians 6:10-20 NKJV) and there IS a great coming DECEPTION.  So powerful that by this Lying Spirit even the “elect” MAY be deceived!  (2 Thessalonians 2 ESV)

There will be a kind of “Christianity” that seems right to man, but the way thereof is DEATH.

Be WATCHFUL.  Be VIGILANT.  Be SOBER and ALERT, for these days are ever increasingly EVIL. 

BUT!!

GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN US THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD!!  (1 John 4:1-6 ESV) And HE is Faithful. And. True.

Jesus, Yeshua, the ONLY BEGOTTEN SON of the Almighty God, is our one sure HOPE and foundation.  KING of kings, LORD of lords.

Do not grow weary!  Do not give up!  (Galatians 6:7-10)  Seek HIM, and HIS Spirit, and LIVE in fellowship with him – by his WORD and his PROMISE and his RIGHTEOUSNESS.  In due season we SHALL reap, if we DO NOT LOSE HEART.

(cf 1 Timothy 3, Revelation ch. 19-22 (NKJV))

Blessings!

~Leah

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2 Timothy 3

English Standard Version (ESV)

Godlessness in the Last Days

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

All Scripture Is Breathed Out by God

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom[a] you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.

 

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Even so, come quickly, Lord!

 

That’s Too Much Like Right ..

Oh dear.  Read this, today, and knew I needed to “share” if for no other reason than to keep it in front of my own thinking and awareness.  I’d say “enjoy!” except .. Well, it’s more likely to prick and bleed. 🙂😦

Blessings!

~Leah

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Perfectionism

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Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been surprised at how many times “control” issues have emerged as a major issue in counseling Christians with anxiety and/or depression. (It’s been a major factor in marital counseling too.) As I couldn’t find any Christian books which dealt specifically with this subject, I bought Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control, put on my Calvin spectacles and started reading.

The book emerged out of the challenges and frustrations the author, psychiatrist Allan Mallinger, faced in trying to counsel obsessive people. Like other mental-health professionals, he found “obsessive people often are controlling or cerebral or distrustful or secretive or emotionally constricted or resistant to change or all of the above.”

Yes, they often have many virtues such as being hard-working, reliable, self-controlled, honest, etc. But their striving for excellence in themselves and others makes them too perfect for their own good. As Pascal said: “When we would pursue virtues to their extremes on either side, vices present themselves.… We find fault with perfection itself.” Their perfectionism means that are never at ease with themselves or with anyone else.

By this point, you might be thinking, “Am I looking in the mirror?” Well, here are examples of the kind of person Malinger has in mind:

  • The person so driven to meet professional and personal goals that she can’t abandon herself to a few hours of undirected leisure without feeling guilty or undisciplined.
  • The person so preoccupied with making the right choice that he has difficulty making even relatively simple decisions usually regarded as pleasurable: buying a new stereo; choosing where to go on vacation.
  • The person so finicky that his pleasure is spoiled if everything isn’t “just so.”
  • The “thinkaholic” whose keen, hyperactive mind all too often bogs her down in painful worry and rumination.
  • The perfectionist, whose need to improve and polish every piece of work chronically causes her to devote much more time than necessary to even inconsequential assignments.
  • The person so intent upon finding the ultimate romantic mate that he seems unable to commit to any long-term relationship.
  • The person so acclimated to working long hours that she can’t bring herself to cut back, even when confronted with evidence that the overwork is ruining her health or her family relationships.
  • The procrastinator who feels angry at his “laziness”—unaware that the real reason he is unable to undertake tasks is that his need to do them flawlessly makes them loom impossibly large.

One of the primary ways in which the need to be in control (of oneself, others, life’s risks) manifests itself is perfectionism. When control and perfectionism combine, a whole family of personality traits is produced, including:

  • A fear of making errors
  • A fear of making a wrong decision or choice
  • A strong devotion to work
  • A need for order or firmly established routine
  • Frugality
  • A need to know and follow the rules
  • Emotional guardedness
  • A tendency to be stubborn or oppositional
  • A heightened sensitivity to being pressured or controlled by others
  • An inclination to worry, ruminate, or doubt
  • A need to be above criticism—moral, professional, or personal
  • Cautiousness
  • A chronic inner pressure to use every minute productively

Mallinger points out that many of these traits are valuable and necessary for success. Problems arise when they become dominant and inflexible — that’s where checklists like this come in helpful.

They’re also useful because one of the greatest difficulties in counseling people with such self-generated anguish is that most obsessives are unaware that they’re harming themselves and others. Few, if any, come and say, “Hello, I’m an obsessive perfectionist with control issues!” Most come for another issue or, most commonly, because a loved one, a colleague, a boss, or a friend has encouraged them to seek help.

Having noted the symptoms, Mallinger says the next step is to trace the underlying cause or causes. I’ll return to that tomorrow, and I’d encourage all parents to tune in.

 

[Reblogged from headhearthand.org, by David Murray]

“Congratulations” ..

Thank you all!

This man – friend + brother + fiancé + husband – is my best friend for nearly 10 years, and the champion of my “best self” as well as exemplary in his own pursuit of HIS “best self” .. God’s grace has been inexplicably and awe-inspiringly amazing as he has LED us, has REVEALED himself to each of us, and we both cannot help but spontaneously burst into prayer from moment to moment – even as we see the “world” falling apart around us, our confidence in HIM grows day by day, and our commitment to walk side by side IN this life is louder than either of us thought possible.

God has written a story, here, that both of us thought was only for the love stories in movies .. and it’s been at times a HARD road (we don’t sugar-coat it, “romance” is a LONG awaited prize for us BOTH, even INSIDE our friendship-come-love-story!), but oh so worth it. Even the fact that we have had to face “hard things” together in this past decade has only made us both stronger, more “at peace” (with, God-willing, more wisdom and maturity), more willing and ABLE to be a “safe place” for each other in the stepping forward for what we believe God is calling us to be and do, together.

To the extent you rejoice WITH us, thank you!

To the extent you “pity” either of us for “taking so long” – please do not! The “life” we have each lived has LED us to this point, and better prepared us than MOST married couples we’ve known over the years! 🙂

And to the extent that you may be in “awe” of the sweetness of the love we (at last!) enjoy, please know – REAL love is HARD won. We are always works in progress, but we have “built” on a solid foundation – both our committed FRIENDSHIP to one another, and the dependence we have on the GRACE of God to carry us from this to that .. Any real (merely human) “romance” isn’t easy, but it has BECOME a “fairy tale” by virtue of our longevity and always fighting FOR one another, and now “fighting alongside” one another. 🙂

As cliche as it may seem, 1 Corinthians 13 – in its ENTIRETY – is defining to us as a couple:

“1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” …. 🙂

We are aware of “when” we are in God’s timeline, we are expectant that these “last days” will bring both trouble, AND the sure confidence of Jesus’ soon return. In the meantime, we seek to be faithful, vigilant, and HOPEFUL, and “champion” one another in our life ahead. 😉

Blessings,

~Leah

 

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Be Led By Peace…

Our “work” is the FRUIT of our faith, not the basis. GRACE is the root of our faith AND our “doing” for God’s sake. It is the natural “overflow” of our hearts, not the means by which we secure God’s approval. Too many of us “Christians” get this backwards, and too many of us nevertheless THINK we believe Grace precedes our “efforts” .. but we still live BUSY and EXAUSTED lives .. (Guilty as charged😦 )

It is a constant NEED to be “filled with the Spirit” to ensure that we KEEP our minds stayed on Jehovah, the FRUIT of which is PEACE. If our “working” robs us of our PEACE, it might be a good first clue that something is amiss in our inner world!!

THANK YOU LORD, for those near and dear to us who help us “notice” when we’re not being led by peace so we can do the necessary course-correction and return to RESTING in the “work” of prayer.

Make us more DEPENDENT on you!

Be Still and Know that HE is God!

Ephesians 2:1-10

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

fruit

Blessings!

~Leah

Confess With Your Mouth

I was reminded again, yesterday morning, listening to a sermon online, about a very critical KEY to KEEPING our “deliverance,” to STAYING free!

God has given us his very precious word, to be sure.  And we may “believe” it with all our .. um ..  minds .. give rational assent, find the apologetic arguments persuasive, et al.  It’s MUCH more difficult to believe it with all our HEART!

GUARD YOUR HEART, FOR IT IS THE WELLSPRING OF LIFE!

And if the HEART is the interface between our mind (Soul) and Spirit – and I believe that’s the best explanation I have ever heard for this, by the way – it is CRITICAL that we guard our heart, and BELIEVE .. in our HEART.  Else the disconnect between our mind (Soul) and Spirit can be severe.  (And if we love Jesus, this disconnect can even cause us to LOSE this “love” .. why else would Jesus have to instruct his own church to RETURN to their first love?  Because they had let other things in which CHOKED it out!)

And we fall vulnerable to easy deceptions, we embrace “old lies” and disconnect with our own Spirit; and quite frankly, the Enemy of our souls couldn’t wish for more.  Because the Enemy is after our HEARTS .. If we belong to Christ, our spiritual Enemy cannot “possess” our Spirit – we belong to GOD.  BUT if this Satan Accuser of the Brethren (or any of his underlings) can block the “interface,” if he can sever the connection, he can – and with our “agreement” (?!) – LOCK us up so wholly in our “minds” and mere intellectual rationality .. then he CAN render us effectively POWERLESS!

BUT ARE WE IN FACT POWERLESS?

Are we in fact “powerless”?  NO!  But if we are disconnected from the “power SOURCE,” namely JESUS, how can we be surprised that we get lost in our own thoughts, and self-defeating talk, and intellectually superior games – even justify them in the name of “theology” and in the end, become completely inactive concerning the Power of the Spirit and the CALLING of God to go into ALL the world and make disciples?  (Meanwhile we pat ourselves on our backs for all the “good” we’re doing by deep Bible-studying in our private little corners, growing spiritually FAT on the thing that was meant to ENERGIZE us to BURN for the Kingdom of God??)

If we allow the Enemy any access to our HEARTS, he can HAVE our MINDS.  (Because he has our own PERMISSION to enter – our lack of vigilance, our silence IS tacit agreement!)  This is why Scripture is so clear about how great the battle for the mind actually is, how we are to TAKE CAPTIVE (like a prisoner of war!) EVERY thought and render it subservient to Christ.  And once our hearts HAVE been delivered from the “legal” access of our great spiritual Enemy(ies), it is thus all the more ESSENTIAL that we stand vigil at the borders, do NOT allow any .. um .. “illegal immigrants” (if you’ll pardon the analogy) to cross over.  We must GUARD our HEARTS, so we can experience the flow of GOD’S Spirit (in communion with ours) and so permeate our thoughts, KEEP our minds STAYED on him (because he promises the fruit of this is PERFECT PEACE)….

DO YOU LACK PEACE?

If we aren’t experiencing “perfect peace” – that’s a good indicator our MINDS aren’t stayed on HIM – and if our minds aren’t stayed on HIM, that’s a good indicator that somewhere along the line we let the enemy have some “access” to us .. we believed a lie, or resurrected an old one (one of my pet favorites has to do with how very intrinsically UNLOVABLE I am, how UNDESERVING I am), we let down our guard and vested our “hearts” on something OTHER than God (creating a heart “idol” as it were) .. We even do this by letting our minds OBSESS (or “agitate like a washing machine” as my spiritual mom/discipler/counselor once told me), instead of TAKING back that thought, making it CAPTIVE to Christ, and so shutting the GATE on the Enemy before he can put his foot in there and cause disruption in our HEARTS, and so break our fellowship in the Spirit with our Beloved Jesus!

EVERY LITTLE YIELD TO THE FLESH

We think these things are so LITTLE!  We deceive OURSELVES into thinking that giving in to temptation in this or that little thing won’t really matter, after all, it’s all “under the blood” and God’s GRACE is so GREAT .. blah blah blah.  But EVERY little yield to the flesh – even if that “thing” our flesh desires isn’t intrinsically sinful (all things are permissible, NOT all things are profitable, and I will be mastered by none, as Paul authored!) – can be an ACCESS point, a place where we have perhaps blatantly abandoned our post, or to a lesser degree just got a little distracted.

Oh dear, how could we DO this??  (And I do it so EASILY!?)  When we KNOW the consequences are so DIRE?? so DEADLY??  It’s not that our little “yield” heaps condemnation on our heads .. God must constantly remind me (because my “mind” wants to fall prey to believing otherwise) .. THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION! for those of us who are IN Christ Jesus! ..

And it’s not even as if the “flesh” is itself intrinsically bad.  We DO have this fleshy “tent” in which we dwell, so there are things “in the flesh” that are genuinely BASIC to our (current earthly) lives .. We have to eat; we make love to our spouses; we do need sleep and arguably some measure of recreation .. But it’s when we are YIELDING to our flesh OVER our Spirit that we have problems; we let our flesh master US instead of the other way around .. Gluttony (too much!), Immorality (against God’s intent & loving provision/protection!), Addictions to gaming or movies or SLEEPING or WHATEVER .. We let these things MASTER us, and we don’t even know how it happens, because by the time it’s obvious, the million little yields that GOT us here were but whispers in our MINDS .. but they add up.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO STAND FIRM?!

So where is our VICTORY?  Where is our STANCE?  How do we HOLD our ground?  How do we KEEP the land we have already conquered (or that has been conquered on our behalf, more accurately!)?  The Promised Land is OURS by rights; so how do we GET the Giants OUT?!  (The story of Israel gives us the answer – FAITH IN THE GOD OF ANGEL ARMIES!)

Oh dear, I was so KINDLY reminded by God of this just yesterday, and it immediately brought relief to MY SPIRIT.  (See, just the reMINDer *ahem* broke some of the shackles on my HEART .. see it’s all interwoven, it’s all about “flowing” as a whole self according to God’s creation of the human being as IMAGE of the TRIUNE God!) ..

God’s very WORD SET us FREE and KEEPS us free!  God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of POWER, and of LOVE, and of a .. oh yeah .. SOUND MIND!

It might be oversimplifying, but if you don’t have, or aren’t being LED by PEACE, you are (most likely) IN some kind of “fear” .. (examine your hearts to see if there be any truth to this – what are you AFRAID of?!) .. If you are in FEAR, you are not in FAITH .. If you lack FAITH, how do you GET more “faith”?  .. Well, FAITH comes by HEARING, and HEARING by the WORD OF GOD!

DO YOU LACK FAITH? GET MORE WORD!

Lack Faith?  Get WORD!  It’s such a simple equation!

And did you know your HEART (and Spirit) can RECEIVE the WORD even if your MIND is resisting it?!

Did you know you don’t have to “feel” like reading the Bible for it to nevertheless PENETRATE to your Heart and Spirit?

Because the WORD of God is SHARPER than any two-edged sword and can DIVIDE even between the THOUGHTS and INTENTIONS of the HEART!!

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It can DISCERN between the Soul (mind) and Spirit .. (Why is this so hard for us to grasp?! Why do we, as Christians, go so out of our way to conflate the realities of the unseen as though mind/soul/heart/spirit are all ONE thing .. our “inner” man?  OH, when we get this WRONG, we fall PREY to so many other DECEPTIONS!!)

BE ENCOURAGED!  THE PROMISES OF GOD ARE SURE!

Your “MIND” doesn’t even have to AGREE beyond the point of CHOOSING to pick up the WORD!  Your “MIND” doesn’t have to LIKE it, per se, to make your MOUTH speak the PROMISES of God OUT LOUD!  Your “feelings” about the matter don’t have to tell YOU what to do, YOU tell your FEELINGS what to do – “Take a backseat, I need to do this, and I don’t ‘care’ if you don’t ‘feel’ like reading this chapter this morning, God told me this is what we need to do, so you’re going to sit down, and we’re gonna DO this!”

And THAT’S where the miracle of God’s POWER is first MANIFEST to overcome your “fleshly” resistance.  Jesus PROMISED that He (and His Father) would make their DWELLING with us!!  THAT’S where the miracle of God’s PRESENCE is manifest to OPEN your Heart to RECEIVE!  We SPEAK the truth of God’s promises OVER ourselves, and we have PROPHETIC POWER to affect CHANGE in our own Hearts and Spirits, and ultimately to CHANGE OUR OWN MINDS, which in turn, ushers in the GRACIOUS GIFT of “feeling” the PEACE of God ruling in our lives.  This in turn makes us ABLE to be LED by the Peace of God!

And this is all as simple as .. quoting a single verse to your own reflection in the mirror some morning.  (Break the chains!)  Picking up your Bible and settling on just one Psalm or Proverb or a favorite verse, and READ OUT LOUD for five minutes.  (Break the chains!)

Oh dear, hearing the WORD brings FAITH .. it creates its OWN momentum, and you cannot HELP but walk in VICTORY (cuz it was already always YOURS to begin with!)  Do not let the Enemy TAKE BACK what is rightfully YOURS because of Christ!!  The freedom FROM sin, and the freedom TO FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD IN THE SPIRIT THRU CHRIST .. These are your rightful INHERITANCE because of the blood of the only true LAMB of God, the only true GATE of God, Jesus HIMSELF who went through the veil of death on your behalf!  HE conquered death and hell so we could be MORE than conquerors.  WE GET THE SPOILS of HIS VICTORY in this war!!  Ah, and HE HIMSELF is the treasure!  HE is our healing!  HE is our “self-control” in the face of overwhelming temptations.  HE is our sacrificial love!  HE is our Victorious Warrior and IT IS FINISHED! because of the Cross and the Resurrection!

CONFESS WITH YOUR MOUTH!

I have peppered (by phrase and fragment) many Scriptures throughout this update, so I will try to go back and add references for you, so you may DIG DEEPER into the WORD for yourselves.  Or I may add as a new post – a kind of addendum to serve as perhaps the springboard for your CONFESSING WITH YOUR MOUTH that Jesus is Lord, that the promises of God are TRUE and cannot be broken, and his WORD will ENDURE!

But if you are feeling defeated, today?  Even a LITTLE bit!? .. Just SAY something!  One little truth of God to WAKE UP your heart, he himself is the LANGUAGE of our Heart and Spirit, and deep calls to deep, so ONE LITTLE WORD has the power to FELL the Enemy!  The ears of your Heart cannot HELP but leap for joy as in the “womb” of your “inner man”, because it RECOGNIZES the voice of its GOOD SHEPHERD!  Your HEART can HEAR the words coming out of your OWN MOUTH!  So season your SPEECH with the Word and Promises of God.  SOW into the garden of your own Heart, and WATCH the miracle of a bountiful harvest!

So SAY something – Just remember ANYTHING from your memory verses when you were a child.  God SO loved the world that he GAVE his ONLY begotten son, that WHOSOEVER would BELIEVE on HIM, would RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE!! and NOT perish!  REMEMBER the Savior of your Heart!  REMEMBER the Lover of your Soul!  And PREACH yourself happy!  SPEAK the language of your Spirit, and TAKE BACK what is rightfully yours – the very fellowship with God himself for which you were MADE! and live your VICTORIOUS life (PEACE even THROUGH the storms of this life!) ..

JESUS IS “your best life now” (if you’ll pardon the allusion to the famously heretical!) just as much as the earthly storms of this life are the “worst” you will experience in light of eternity.  This life is as close to “hell” that ANY who is IN Christ will ever get .. And when all is said and done, we get HIM forever!!

Oh dear, Jesus is SO good!

Blessings❤

~Leah

confess with your mouth

Good Morning, Woman of God!

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of [HIS Spirit] of POWER, and of LOVE, and of a SOUND MIND!! This is our guarantee! Our security! Our inheritance! And more than that the very presence of God himself, and this is our HEAVEN! Our promise! Our HOPE!

The LORD is our light and our salvation; whom shall we fear? The LORD is the stronghold of our lives! of whom shall we be afraid?

Of whom, of WHAT? NO weapon formed against us shall prosper! JESUS is our strength and shield! He overcame death and the enemy so we could be MORE than conquerors! We SHALL overcome by the blood of the Lamb – JESUS! Perfect sacrifice offered BY the Father to satisfy his own perfect holy judgment on our behalf and to provide THE ONLY WAY to enter HIS presence! We are not destroyed, we are DELIVERED!! – AND we shall overcome by the WORD of our testimony! We cry OUT the LAMB is worthy! He PAID the price! It IS finished! And he bought us to redeem us to himself .. WHO can be against us? GOD is FOR us!! Of whom shall we be afraid?!

He has LAVISHED on us the HEAVENLY riches in and of HIS grace, and he has GIVEN us the name that is above all names! At the name of JESUS .. EVERY knee shall eventually bow, he IS the high King of Heaven, Seated on HIS throne and he will not be overthrown! He WILL have his glory, he WILL have our worship, he WILL love us forever where every other “love” in this life has failed, he IS FAITHFUL AND TRUE and his name will be written for ALL to see as he comes in the CLOUDS on that day, Mighty Warrior, Prince of Peace! To vanquish the enemies of our spirits, and SET the captives FREE!

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Oh darling, we shall not tremble for fear, but for ECSTASY at his coming! (even a fleshly euphemism from that turn of phrase could be a legitimate parable, for GOD’S gift of euphoria in his presence is WHY we were made!) There is NO greater love than the love HE has shown us! He himself is our salvation AND our healing AND our restoration. People recognized Jesus had passed through a town cuz there were no sick and paralyzed and blind and deaf remaining in that place! And he has GRACED us to be his Holy Temple in THIS generation .. the place of meeting so his presence is manifest to those in need.

We have not been given a spirit of fear. We have been given a spirit of POWER and of LOVE and of a SOUND MIND, so we may be sober and alert in these evil days, so NO one and no THING can separate us from our rightful inheritance .. the LOVE of God in Christ Jesus.

“I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine!”

Spiritual Abuse (Part 4) – reblog

Reformed “Spotlight”: What about the Victims?

It’s good to see that The Journey church has set up a Member & Attender Support Page. No doubt this must be a time of spiritual crisis for many in the congregation as they try to understand how a beloved pastor can sin so grievously. I personally know the tremendous confusion and distress that results when a preacher that God has greatly blessed in your life falls into sin. Many questions arise: Was I deceived? Is it all a deception? Was the blessing a delusion? Are other preachers just the same? Who can I trust? Why would God use such men to bless so many people? Was God not able to stop him from falling?

In such painful and puzzling circumstances a support page is a good pastoral use of technology. I especially liked the way that various preachers were invited to send living and vibrant video messages of pastoral and prayerful support towards the congregation and also to the fallen pastor and his family.

But, there’s something vital missing from all this. What about the victims? According to the church’s letter to their members, the pastor had hurt many people along the way over many years. His sins included:

  • Refusal of personal accountability (I Pet. 5.1)
  • Lack of self-control (I Tim. 3.2)
  • Manipulation and lying.
  • Domineering over those in his charge (I Pet. 5.3)
  • Misuse of power/authority (I Pet. 5.3)

Each of these sins involves a victim, perhaps many, and most of these wounded sheep will now be scattered across many churches, or perhaps even churchless through disillusionment. But watch the videos and read the statements. You would think these were victimless sins. Yes the pastor and his family need prayer and support, but the victims need it first and foremost.

I’m not picking on The Journey, it’s just that this gives such a sadly typical example of the way most churches ignore or forget the victims. Usually it’s not done deliberately but rather thoughtlessly. Oftentimes, it’s because the victims have moved on and are no longer part of the church. Sometimes, crisis-management is just so focused on survival that the wider consequences are not thought through. But it’s also possible that the same celebrity-worship that contributed to the pastor’s fall is still skewing extra pastoral attention to him to the omission of the lesser-known victims.

One way to put this right would be to post a “Victim Support Page” with similar videos, but this time directed towards these bleeding sheep for whom this disciplinary intervention came too late. Whatever support and care is being poured into the pastor and his family, the victims deserve double that. And if the victims can face it, the pastor himself should be involved in reaching out to each and every victim to ask for forgiveness before any consideration is given to any future ministry role.

Yes the pastor needs grace. But the victims need justice.

 

(Reblogged from HeadHeartHand)

Spiritual Abuse (Part 3) – reblog

Reformed “Spotlight”: 10 Characteristics of Mr Controller

This is a slightly edited re-post of an article I wrote a couple of years ago which is relevant to our discussion of spiritual abuse. I also want to say that my focus in this series is not primarily the spiritual abuses of celebrities that end up on the “front pages,” but rather the largely unnoticed and unreported spiritual abuse that goes on in “ordinary” churches and Christian organizations. However, there is often a connection as the examples of the well-known are copied, and those motivated by the desire to be famous are more likely to resort to spiritual abuse when anyone or anything gets in their way.


In any discussion about spiritual abuse it’s important to distinguish between authority and authoritarianism? Let’s begin with some broad definitions:

Authority is the lawful use of lawful authority: God, the church, the state, or a business has given someone the right to govern and guide your life in a certain area, and that authority is being exercised in the right areas in the right way.

Authoritarianism is the exercise of unlawful authority: It’s someone who has not been given any authority over my life trying to rule and run my life, or someone who has authority in one limited area of my life, trying to rule and run other parts or every part of my life.

Authoritarianism is also the unlawful use of lawful authority: Someone takes the authority they’ve been given and abuses it by exercising it in ways that only benefits them and usually damages me.

Definitions help us to some degree, but illustrations can take us further. So let’s put together some marks of authoritarianism. What does this look like? How do I recognize it? How do I know if I’m being authoritarian or just exercising legitimate authority? How do I know if I’m being a victim of authoritarianism? Let’s see if we can build a description of “Mr Controller.”

1. Mr Controller is power hungry. He’s always trying to get more control over your life. He’s never satisfied with knowing what he knows about you, but always want to know more. He’s never content with power in one or two areas, but wants power in every area. He gets his biggest thrills from ordering other people around and making them feel subservient.

2. Mr Controller never suspects he may be abusing his power. He never says, “Please let me know if I you ever think I’m overstepping my bounds.” He has little or no awareness about his own tendency to misuse power.

3. Mr Controller gets easily and terribly offended whenever anyone questions his authority. “How dare you speak to me like that!” “Do you know who I am?” Any questioning is viewed as insubordination, rebellion, disrespect, etc.

4. Mr Controller thinks of himself more as a King than a servant. He rarely thinks or asks “How can I serve you?” Instead, his prevailing attitude is “How can I rule you?” He’s out to gain more control not to give more help.  He empowers himself rather than others.

5. Mr Controller threatens when threatened. Whenever his authority or power is questioned or challenged, even when it’s done humbly and appropriately, he warns of unpleasant consequences for the questioner. He certainly never pauses to ask, “Did I exceed my authority? Did I handle this correctly? Have I made a mistake?”

6. Mr Controller keeps a long record. His position of power has enabled him to build big memory files on his “victims,” which he does not hesitate to use (or hint at using) when necessary.

7. Mr Controller tells rather than teaches. He orders people around without explaining why. “Just do it!” He doesn’t take the time or make the effort to explain himself or his “guidance.” He prefers law and sanction to teaching, instruction, and motivation. He’s afraid that if he teaches principles and aims at changing the heart, that people will then work out things for themselves rather than be dependent upon him for everything.

8. Mr Controller clings to power. Unlike true leaders who love to train other leaders and delegate power to them, he clings to power and refuses to let go. Because, of course, no one is as wise and competent as he is.

9. Mr Controller hates to be controlled. He’s often resistant to anyone being in authority over him or telling him what he should be or do. He’s often a vociferous critic of other sources of power and authority around him. He figures, “If I can weaken him/her/them, I strengthen myself.”

10. Mr Controller lacks self-control. This is his weirdest characteristic. You’d think that such an addiction to control would produce a deeply disciplined person. Not at all. Most controllers have major deficits in the self-control department. Perhaps it’s because they are so busy interfering in other people’s lives that they neglect their own. Maybe it’s because they find it easier to direct and discipline others than themselves. I don’t know, but watch out for this. Behind most authoritarian personalities is usually a lack of biblical authority, often manifested in bad morals or bad temper.

And remember, there are Mrs. Controllers too.

 

(Reblogged from HeadHeardHand)

Spiritual Abuse (Part 2) – reblog

Reformed “Spotlight”: What is Spiritual Abuse?

In my first post on spiritual abuse, I said I would provide a definition that would help in subsequent discussions. I’d welcome your input on this so that we can develop a clear and comprehensive definition, but here’s my suggestion to start the conversation, followed by my “exposition”:

Spiritual abuse is a sinful use of spiritual authority by Christian leaders to promote, protect, or enrich a person or a Christian institution regardless of the spiritual damage done to innocent parties and the cause of Christ.

First, the term “spiritual abuse“indicates that unlike physical or sexual abuse, the primary pain is felt in the soul. Calling it “spiritual” also highlights that it is more difficult to detect because its primary weapons are usually more psychological, mental, emotional, relational, and, well, spiritual.

Second, notice the use of the word, “sinful.”There is good and proper ecclesiastical authority. God has ordained officers in his church to administer his kingdom on earth. We must not let the abuse of this by some push us to the extreme of rejecting all pastors, elders, deacons, membership standards, discipline, etc.

Some of the sinful tools used by spiritual abusers include injustice, misrepresentation, intimidation, exclusion, isolation, humiliation, manipulation, authoritarianism, demands for unconditional loyalty and obedience, shame, legalism, false accusation, self-pity, suppression of dissent and criticism, use of rules to silence, inability to admit wrong, covering up and minimizing leaders’ sins, and so on.

Third, “spiritual authority”refers to any office, role, or responsibility in Christian churches, para-church organizations, charities, conferences, seminaries, etc. It is not confined to ecclesiastical office or church courts. Spiritual abuse can take place wherever someone is given any degree of spiritual responsibility or spiritual authority over others.

Fourth, the term “Christian leaders” (plural) underlines that although there is often one person who is the primary abuser, there are usually others who cooperate with him due to fear, desire to please, personal gain, or pragmatism.

Fifth, the aim of the Christian leaders is no longer the good of souls and the glory of God but the promotion, protection, and enrichment of a person or an institution.” The leader, the church, or the organization’s existence, reputation, and wealth becomes the over-riding concern.

Sixth, this is all done “regardless of the spiritual damage”suffered by the victims, such as false guilt, shame, inability to trust spiritual leaders, draining of self-confidence, disillusionment with the church and with Christians, serious distortions in their view of God,

Seventh, damage is also done to the “cause of Christ.”The abuser’s church or organization may continue and spiritual abusers may still occupy positions of influence and popularity. But the cause of Christ as a whole is damaged, as people see the hypocrisy, the double standards, the self-centeredness.

Spiritual abuse is a sinful use of spiritual authority by Christian leaders to promote, protect, or enrich a person or a Christian institution regardless of the spiritual damage done to innocent parties and the cause of Christ.

So that’s my definition. I’m very open to correction and other suggestions.

 

(Reblogged from HeadHeartHand)

Spiritual Abuse (Part 1) – reblog

A Reformed “Spotlight”: Fighting Spiritual Abuse in the Reformed Church

I am so angry — and, I fear, not all of it is holy anger.

Earlier this week, I sat with a young man who, six years later, is still recovering from spiritual abuse at the hands of a “respected” Reformed pastor. He’s one of a number of this pastor’s victims, all of them gifted and godly men, but all of whom have had their confidence shredded and their faith devastated by this man’s abuse of his spiritual position and authority.

Within 24 hours I was sitting with another young man, whose details I cannot reveal, but let’s just say he had also suffered from another Reformed church’s failure to follow basic biblical, and even just humane, process.

I wasn’t looking for these men. They just “happened” to be in my life this week.

As I pondered their painful stories, I “happened” to watch an online video of a respected Christian leader abusing his position as a conference speaker to demolish the reputation and Christian character of a godly man and a friend of mine. He didn’t just criticize his views but his character, his faithfulness, and his spiritual state. All of this in front of a couple of thousand people and without any opportunity for the man to defend himself. (UPDATE: I’m not referring to T4G).

The Dam Bursts

And today the dam burst when I read in Christianity Today  that “celebrity-pastor,” Darrin Patrick, has been “fired for violating his duties as pastor” at the Journey Megachurch in St. Louis.

“The Journey cited a range of ongoing sinful behaviors over the past few years including manipulation, domineering, lack of biblical community, and a history of building his identity through ministry and media platforms.”

As Christianity Today points out, this is just the latest in a way-too-long line of prominent “Reformed” pastors who have either voluntarily or involuntarily stepped away from ministry due to spiritual failings that have impacted many people (I think it’s unfair to include John Piper in this list as his case did not involve spiritual abuse). Sadly, Christianity Today’s list is incomplete as other prominent names could easily be added. Even more sadly, there are multitudes of other non-celebrity pastors whose stories will never hit the headlines, but will result in even greater multitudes of victims.

Apart from one exception, I’ve generally refrained from giving publicity to such abuses of spiritual authority, mainly out of a desire not to damage the church’s witness before the world and a fear of undermining Christians confidence in their leaders. However, that was the argument the Roman Catholic Church used for decades as it covered up their priests’ sexual abuse. And victims continued to multiply in the silence.

So, yes, for me the dam has burst. And it’s not just the past week. I’ve had increasing numbers of emails from victims of spiritual abuse over the past years. It’s now time to speak out. It’s time for the Reformed church to take responsibility and clean house. It’s time to stop pointing the finger at the Catholics’ sexual abuse scandals and start exposing the spiritual abuse scandals in our ranks.

There have been brave voices in the wilderness here and there who have been calling for reformation in this area for years. But they’ve been dismissed as cranks, as obsessive, as outside the mainstream. That’s what the Catholic church used to say of their victims and critics too. It’s time to listen to these voices and stand with these victims.

And I speak as a fellow victim. I too have a story of spiritual abuse. I too have a story to tell. I’ve not only seen spiritual abuse, I bear the marks of it in my mind, my heart, and my soul.

Five Roles

So what can I do? I don’t want to be a conduit for unsubstantiated allegations. I don’t want to be a gossip blog. I don’t want to abuse my position in the process of highlighting the abuse of others. I won’t name names unless in exceptional circumstances; a lot of good can be done without personalizing issues. Rather I see my role and responsibility in five areas: warning, preventing, confronting, recovering, and modeling

Warning: I will regularly highlight the warning signs of a spiritual abuser, how to identity them, what to look out for, how to spot them early on, and also how to see danger signs in oneself! That’s one of the most fearful aspects of spiritual abuse — the abuser is usually totally blind to it. It could be you! Or me!!

Preventing: I want to help churches prevent spiritual abuse in their midst, to stop it before it starts, to nip it in the bud, and so on.

Confronting: I want to help individuals and churches confront spiritual abuse and root it out; how to use legitimate spiritual authority, including church discipline, against abuses of it.

Healing: I want to aid the healing process, helping wounded individuals, families, and churches recover their sanity and their souls and build solid foundations for spiritual life where at present there is only rubble. And I’ve got to believe that healing is possible for the spiritual abuser too, that, by grace, the most deformed leadership can become the most cruciformed.

Modeling: I want to promote godly models of leadership both in the church and in the family; because this is not just confined to pastors. As too many stories confirm, Christian husbands and fathers can also abuse their God-appointed leadership roles. We need to skillfully apply the Bible’s principles to our practice, and to advance positive and beautiful models of what it means to lead both in the church and in the home.

In summary, I want to be constructive more than destructive. And I want to start with a definition of spiritual abuse — stay tuned.

Let’s shine the “Spotlight” on ourselves before Hollywood does.

**UPDATE** Thanks for all the comments. These will all be very useful going forward. I’ve closed the thread due to a couple of people abusing the privilege.

 

(Reblogged from HeadHeartHand)