Religious Pharisees will tell believing children of God,
“No matter what you’re suffering, your greatest problem is your own sin.”
The ones I have known meant it this way:
Oh? You just heard that your child, or spouse, or parent is dead? Well, that’s very sad, but your greater problem is your own personal sin. Oh? Your husband is abusing you and your children? Well, that’s pretty bad—if it’s true—but your greater problem is your own personal sin.
I have heard this said to saints in the chains of slavery and oppression, to saints at the unexpected graveside, to saints in the most severe distress, suffering the greatest persecutions. Continue reading ““Your greatest problem is your own sin” (guest post by Valerie Jacobsen)”
Recently I received a note from a friend, Rochelle Sadie (whose blog about recovering from domestic abuse is here).
The verse that the enemy likes to use against me to guilt trip me is Luke 6:32 when Jesus said “anyone can love someone who is nice to them, but it’s better to love your enemy.” Basically I feel so much condemnation, like I’m taking the easy way out by avoiding my abuser, and God is disappointed in me that I would not seek to “love my enemies” or just try to work around their “shortcomings.”
I wonder – if you might help me understand Jesus’ true intentions with this statement. What is the heart of God regarding our attitude toward our abusers and sometimes toward those who pressure us to return to an abuser and/or a chronically unfaithful man?
Here is my reply. Continue reading “What does “loving your enemies” look like with an abuser?”
Last week I received a letter from my friend Ana. The first part of her first question read:
In the Reformed/Gospel-centered movement, the focus seems to be on how sinful and wicked and powerless we all are and how comforted and relieved we should be when we look to the cross. It seems like the answer to most problems is to look to the cross more. I don’t even know exactly what that means. For me, it encouraged a miserable cycle of wallowing in how awful I am and basing the Christian life on the feelings I get when I think of Jesus dying for me.
Here is my reply: Continue reading ““Look to the cross more”: a response to the “gospel-centered” movement”
I’ve spoken in a number of Christian school chapels over the years. As a professional storyteller I’d speak in chapel with a true story from one of my missionary books, and then as the “visiting author” I’d go around to the classrooms and answer questions.
One of the questions I’d often get was this: “If your life were written as a story, what would you want it to say?”
(A student would ask it, but I always had a sneaking suspicion that it was a teacher who came up with the question.)
My reply would consistently be, “Oh, I’d never want my life to be written as a story. My life is way too boring.” Continue reading “Reflections on my 62nd birthday: “What if your life were written as a story?””
I love it when friends of mine find their voices and speak. I love providing them with a safe space to speak about what God has done in their lives. This one is from my friend Ruth.
I’ve not ever been in what is considered formal therapy. Sadly the “biblical counsel” my church leaders and Bible college leaders gave me as a teen almost killed me.
“Never question authority”
I was raised in an environment where authority was absolute. Obedience without question was expected to be given to any “authority” in my life. I learned that they were chosen and ordained by God to communicate God’s plan and design for my life. If any authority figure pointed out anything other than unquestioned obedience on my part, I would be punished.
“Adults do not just sit around making up lies just to create trouble for children.” I heard that time after time. Continue reading “The best counsel I ever received—it’s not what you’d expect (guest post by Ruth Harris)”
Someone asked me,
When the Bible talks about wolves in sheep’s clothing, is that referring to a common occurrence? That in our everyday churches, there would be people there who may be well respected but are there to deceive and destroy?
How does one recognize a vicious wolf, if he looks like a harmless sheep? Continue reading “Are wolves proliferating in the churches?”
A while back when I (Rebecca) was talking with some former ATI members (Bill Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute), I thought about the devastation, confusion, and even anti-Christianity that has resulted from this homeschooling program. I said aloud to myself, “Bill Gothard certainly has left a tremendous amount of destruction in his wake.”
Then I added under my breath, “Many were defiled.”
I saw that he was the very root of bitterness in Hebrews 12:15 that he himself loved to talk about.
Continue reading “A Gothard Girl testifies about the “root of bitterness” (guest post by Lauren Rose)”
In prayer ministry work with abuse survivors, it’s common to ask Jesus to show up in the memory of the abuse. This is an effective way for Him to speak His love and care to the heart of the one who was harmed and bring healing to the wounds caused by others.
But sometimes a theology question can stop the work before it happens. “God can’t be in the presence of sin,” more than one friend has said to me, “so there’s no way Jesus could be there where that awful stuff is happening.” Continue reading “Can God be in the presence of sin?”
It’s actually a beautiful verse.
But sometimes it’s used as a cudgel.
After I had heard two different people refer to this Bible verse as a verb (as a cudgel that had been used against them), I knew it was time to write about it.
Here it is: Continue reading “Have you been Philippians 4:8’d?”
I have friends who are walking through hellish darkness in trying to recover and stay safe from evil perpetrated on them and their children that, when they entered their marriages, they had no inkling even existed.
I have friends who are trying to stay safe from being stalked by their rapists or other stalkers who for their own purposes want the world to think their target is crazy.
My friends often struggle with fear, because of flashbacks intruding into their present, and because of the very real and present threats of the wicked perpetrators.
And a Bible verse like the one in the title can send them spiraling. It just sounds like more condemnation.
But as always, it’s so, so important to look at the context. Continue reading ““Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?””