Four ways teaching Christians to embrace “I’m the worst sinner I know” is harming the church

SermonTitleSome background of the teaching

When CJ Mahaney began proclaiming “I’m the worst sinner I know” somewhere around the late 1990s, it certainly wasn’t the first time this teaching had been promoted. But from what I could find, this was when it began to go mainstream.

Mahaney himself claimed it regularly, often even as a way of introducing himself when he would stand up to speak. “I’m CJ Mahaney, and I’m the worst sinner I know.”

But it isn’t only Mahaney who is supposed to be the worst sinner he knows. Each one of us Continue reading

On calling people out via social media—a response to Jarrid Wilson

On my personal Facebook page I have the “On This Day” app so I can see everything posted on each day through the years. So during the month of February I’ve been following what happened in February of 2014, which in my little world was significant. Early that month, Bob Jones University had fired the team that was investigating their handling of sexual abuse allegations, Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment (GRACE), headed by Boz Tchividjian. Because I spoke out about the firing in various places on social media, including my own personal Facebook page, I gained quite a following Continue reading

Why “moral injury,” like “PTSD” is a term that applies to far more than our soldiers, and why that’s important to all of us

What Have We Done coverI recently finished reading the book What Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars, by Pulitzer-prize-winning war journalist David Wood (Little, Brown, 2016). When my husband brought it home from the library my interest was piqued because I hoped it might give me insight into why the abusive situations I’ve known about involved what seemed like a disproportionately high percentage of abusers who were military veterans. Continue reading

New book: Tear Down This Wall of Silence now in its second edition!

I well remember the 1990s when the sexual abuse scandals among Catholic priests were being broadcast all over the news. But whenever they aired, I turned them off. I didn’t want to know about them because they were horrible. And besides, my pea brain told me, that was the Catholics, and of course horrible stuff like that is going to happen there, but it had nothing to do with me. It was very, very distant from my world. So I thought. (Even though I knew I had a close relative who had been sexually abused. And other girls in college had confided in me that they had been sexually abused. Those were all in a different compartment of my pea brain.)

Well, I’ve repented of that attitude, for sure.

Which brings me to . . . drum roll, please . . .

TDTWS full cover

Click on the book cover to view a larger version to read the text on the back.

I’m so delighted to let everyone know that Tear Down This Wall of Silence  (which you can see on Amazon here) is now in its second edition (with Justice Keepers Publishing) and better than ever! Dale and Faith share a passion to help the oppressed that I’m privileged to be a part of.

What makes this book important? Well, like Unholy Charade, it isn’t written so much to the survivor of abuse (though one chapter is specifically to the survivor) as it is to the churches. Wake up and Continue reading

Rethinking the idol factory: challenging the “idol” construct as the explanation for all sin in the lives of Christians

Clay-Ganesh-Idols-1024x562Why does it matter whether or not all sin is described as idolatry? 

It has surprised me, as I’ve researched it, how many Christians simply assume that all Christians churn out idols. To think that everyone who worships Jesus Christ is all the time actually worshiping something else is disturbing at its core.

As I studied the topic, I saw this quotation again and again from John Calvin: “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” (Even though the writers who quoted him Continue reading

What hypocrisy is and what it isn’t and why that’s important: a lesson from Tullian Tchividjian

Hypocrisy. Presenting oneself one way (perceived as good) in public while actively living a different way (definitely bad) in private. Sort of like this:

hypocrisy-evil-with-mask-from-unholy-charade

hypocrisy: evil with a Superman mask, from the cover photo for “Unholy Charade,” photo credit Stephanie Council

And of course the problem of hypocrisy is made far worse if the hypocrite isn’t just presenting himself as good but is also admonishing others to walk in a certain way— the way he walks.

Isn’t that why Jesus reserved His harshest words for the Continue reading

Power over Porn

Not long ago I had the privilege of having a deep conversation with a young man who was attending an excellent local Bible school.

What made this conversation unusual was that this young man began telling me about an addiction to pornography that had gripped him since he was nine. He was one of the oldest children in a large family, so hiding his addiction had been no small feat, but he managed it. Continue reading

What does it mean to “serve the church”?

serveIn a small group my husband and I were visiting, the topic of “serving the church” came up. Tim and I both began thinking about the people the Lord had brought into our lives, listening to their stories, talking to them about the goodness of God, helping them with day-to-day needs, and reaching out to them in the down and dirty places of life.

But discussion in the group took a different direction.  They began talking about Continue reading

Why do they tell you to “surrender rights” that aren’t even rights at all?

One way abuse victims are taught to give up their rights in Christian circles is by teaching them to give up things that are presented as rights but aren’t really rights at all. (So then they’ll say, “Oh, well, yes it’s obvious I should give that up,”  and then the conclusion is drawn that they should give up RIGHTS. But that’s wrong.) This is from Untwisting Scriptures, a few bits in the middle of the section about NOT surrendering your rights.

– Don’t call them rights when they’re really just desires

Revive our Hearts founder Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth says,

All too often, I find myself annoyed and perturbed when things don’t go my way. A decision someone makes at the office, a rude driver on the freeway, a long line at the checkout counter, a thoughtless word spoken by a family member, a minor offense (real or perceived) by a friend, someone who fails to come through on a commitment, a phone call that wakes me when I have just fallen off to sleep—if I am staking out my rights, even the smallest violation of those rights can leave me feeling and acting moody, uptight, and angry.[1]

Nancy talks about “wanting things to go my way.” But that’s not rights. That’s desires. The relatively insignificant desires she names were never her rights to begin with. And she never even tries to grapple with the issue of Continue reading