Thought Trees

 

Further to my post yesterday about our minds and imagination, listen to neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf talking about how our brains and minds work and how thoughts are not just non-physical and unimportant puffs of nothing that evaporate and never do any harm.

Proof that if we follow the Word of God and obey it, we will literally know life and blessing.

My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
22 For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:20-27

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Mind Washing

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We use our imaginations all the time.

And we don’t think anything of it… pardon the pun.

We have been told since we were children that using our imaginations is a great thing.  Even Sesame Street told us to do it.  Willy Wonka told us that living in our imagination we would be free.  But he was a fashion challenged recluse with the moral compass of a sewer rat so we will give ourselves permission to discard his advice.

We use our imaginations in the same way a wind surfer uses his sailboard.  We know where we want to go, we just make our thoughts go in that direction.  I remember as a child reading a book by Monica Dickens, the granddaughter of Charles Dickens.  She was writing a semi-autobiographical account of the various jobs she had had as a child and she talked about the ‘endless possibilities of the inside of one’s own head’.  That quote stuck with me because it resonated.  As a child, I spent most of my free time either reading or imagining other places where I would not have to face the daily pain I lived with. It is where I learned to hide my true thoughts and desires, and in fact to hide my true self.  It is where in fact I found that I could be totally at peace because nobody else could control me there, I was king of my own thoughts.

The only trouble with imagination is that it is driven by our hearts and if our hearts are corrupt then so our imagination will be. I was not saved at that point, so my thoughts were corrupt.  But I had developed a stronghold there almost literally.  So much so that when I was much older and living in a cult, that stronghold became even moreso my place of refuge. God had been replaced by evil overlords claiming to be his representatives.  So when it came time to recognise that this stronghold was in fact defiling me and was not God’s will for my life, the struggle to let go was enormous.  It wasn’t until I began to experience physical reactions to the many emotional struggles I had in my imagination that I realised what it was doing to me.  My mind was not just a stronghold, it became a ‘mighty tower’ the very thing that scripture tells us is the place that God is supposed to inhabit. I had made an idol out of my imagination.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.

Proverbs 18:10

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Psalm 91:2

I was doing some research on witchcraft recently and read something which really piqued my interest.  I was intrigued by a video by a Christian lady who had been a witch before she was saved. This lady explained how she used to work and I thought I would just check out whether this was real or not. I would not encourage visits to occult websites by the way, they are not somewhere anyone should spend a lot of time. A witch’s blog was describing that two of the main ingredients needed to cast spells are strong emotions and intent.  Apparently, demonic forces can be summoned simply by these two things and coupled with the words which are used, curses and spells can be cast over others.  Now the extent to which this is successful (or even viable) is beyond my ability or my desire to prove, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this was the case.  When Trump came to power in the U.S., there were a bunch of witches who used pictures of him coupled with various wiccan accoutrements to curse his person and presidency.   I would imagine there was a great deal of intense emotion and intent behind those spells.

Imagination often elicits strong emotion, and of course we use intent to control our imaginations.  We picture what we want to picture in our minds and make the characters say and do what we desire.  It is a potent mix, and one which human beings have used to their destruction and blessing. The imagination can create horrific scenarios as well as things which are of great benefit to ourselves and others.

Scripture gives us a great deal of direction when it comes to our thoughts.  Romans 12:2 tells us not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can know the good, perfect and acceptable will of God.  In fact, we are also urged to ‘have the mind of Christ’ by Paul.

For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16

Romans 8:6 tells us that to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  That right there friends is the prescription to end depression.  I don’t say this lightly because I have struggled with depression since I was a child.  But I also know that anti-depressants are not going to fix what ails us as human beings.  We are carnally minded if we don’t have the mind of Christ and if we are not born again.  We need to be cleansed by the washing of the water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26).

The word of God calls us to be sober-minded, to be single-minded and to be sound-minded.  We are to be of the same mind towards one another and to be like-minded and to set our minds on things that are above. These are all clear and direct calls to train our minds and our imaginations to godliness.

Further, we are told that we are to bring every thought to captivity to Christ.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

2 Corinthians 10

These are serious words to consider and digest.  Our imaginations are not our own, although we often keep our deepest imaginings secret from others.  In truth, much of what goes on in our imaginations if it were brought to light would be pretty shameful.  I know that my imagination has been having a field day over the years until God showed me only recently that in fact we can be defiled by our thoughts.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

Romans 8:5-7

If you do a word study of defilement in the bible, you will see that in the Old Testament there seem to be three main ways you could be defiled, through dead bodies, through blood and through idol worship.  There were other ways which involved mixture and eating wrong foods as well.  But in the New Testament, Jesus said that it was not what went into a man that defiled him but what was in his heart.

When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: 15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”

17 When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. 18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” 20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Mark 7

As you can see, evil thoughts come from the heart of a man, or his mind.  We can be defiled by the sins which occur in our imaginations.  Jesus told us that even if a man lusts after a woman in his heart he has already committed adultery or fornication with her. This is powerful stuff.  It means that the Bible is telling us something that even practitioners of occult works understand and use to their own and other people’s detriment.  If we think a thing as far as God is concerned it is already done.  If our intentions are to sin and we imagine that sin and presumably ‘feel’ that sin, then we have sinned.

Therefore, imagination is a potent tool which is not to be toyed with.  Nor can we own our imaginations and claim that we can play around inside our own minds without being accountable to God for what passes through them or what stays and is employed by us to act out various fantasies.

Every thought leads to an action.  Even imaginary ones.  Our actions may be those of omission rather than commission.  For example, if you are spending so much time imagining revenge on an enemy and not giving your attention to things that require it, you will make mistakes, miss things, not do your work properly, or even cause an accident.  I can’t tell you the numbers of times I have been mentally absent whilst driving because I was imagining a conversation in my head and not paying attention to the road.  In fact on one occasion, I ‘came to’ about ten minutes down the road and didn’t realise I had missed my turn off and took a second to realise where I was.  Now that is dangerous. I realised I had gone through several traffic lights and couldn’t even remember whether I had stopped at them or not.  What if I had run a red light?  Fortunately, it was a country road in the middle of the day so it was fairly quiet, but at peak hour?

Our imaginations can be used in godly ways.  Really though, it is probably better if we don’t spend too much time in our imagination at all.  In fact, even reading fiction can be a problem. We can lose ourselves in a novel, even a Christian one, and what we are doing is actually spending time in somebody else’s mind.  A creepy thought.  We might think that these are just words on a page, but actually they are creating something in our imaginations.  Our imaginations are powerful. Words are even more powerful. Both evoke emotions and change the way we think and act.  If we assume that we have ownership over both and don’t submit to the Word on these matters, we will not only allow sin to creep in and have power over us, we may even be walking into witchcraft without realising it.

People who have been through severe psychological trauma, whether that is brought on by physical, sexual or psychological abuse, will often ‘space out’, or disassociate at odd times. Psychologists claim that the mind can’t tolerate anything which is too overwhelming, especially if it is the mind of a child.  When things become too much to deal with our minds can shut off during those events and also afterwards when reminded of them. If the trauma is especially severe, the mind blanks out all memory of them. One of the things that can happen to trauma survivors is that they can space out via the use of their imaginations as I have just described.  While these behaviours can be understood in the light of what we have been through as children and as adults,  we can know that Jesus is able to help us in the midst of these episodes.  If we truly want to give him our lives and our whole being, body, mind, will and emotions, and that includes our imaginations, then He can both heal, renew, wash with His blood and change the way we think and the way we act.  This is both the reality and the hope we have as believers. It is one thing to recognise and understand why our minds and imaginations can be used to shield ourselves during an abusive episode, but we must remain vigilant once we realise what we are doing.  We are responsible for our thoughts and we can control them.

I don’t want anybody reading this to think that genuine soul and mind change is only true on paper.  It is real.  The key though is that only God can give us a revelation of how our imaginations can defile us.  Some things, like sexual sin, are obvious.  But other things, like using our imaginations to comfort or help us to deal with stress, triggers or other overwhelming things, need to be given to Jesus Christ along with the knowledge that “in the multitude of my anxieties within me , your comforts delight my soul”.  Psalm 94:19.

Jesus not only wants to deal with mind sin, he wants to wash our minds clean.  We used to be brainwashed in the cult.  That is the exposure to manipulation via words to think a certain way dictated to by other men or women.  Mind washing is the cleansing through the blood of Jesus and His Word, the healing of the effects of the sins of others and also the sins we continue to commit against ourselves and God.  Mind washing is imperative if you have been believing false doctrine for any length of time and especially so if it has changed the way you see God The Father, or Jesus.  Trauma can cause us to close off to God and believe He doesn’t care for us.  Those strongholds which form because we are shielding ourselves from the abuse of false doctrine can be empowered by demonic forces.  It feels like it is a safe place for us but in fact it is a prison.  Jesus told us He came to set the prisoners free and to heal the broken hearted (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1). It truly is the answer to the pain and brokenness we have experienced through the sins of others against  us.

Don’t use your imagination as a stronghold of comfort from suffering or as a mighty fortress against the enemy.  God alone has that right and place for His people.  If we name Jesus as the name above all names, and He is our Saviour, then we need to submit our imaginations to Him and allow Him to cleanse our minds.

Hallelujah.

 

Further Reading on this blog: By Hook or By Crook

 

 

 

Why I Hate Santa Claus

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The other day, my husband and I were walking through town when the local fire brigade/ambulance contingent blasted down the main street, deafening sirens blaring in staccato bursts and a dishevelled Santa Claus waving vaguely on the back of the fire engine. I cringed. While other more friendly, less Santa-phobic members of our community tooted their car horns and waved in response, I walked quickly in the opposite direction and generally tried to avoid having to make eye contact with the parade. They passed swiftly, thank God, but it brought back some very uncomfortable memories of my hate/hate relationship with Father Christmas.

I am not sure if this is just an introvert thing, but I have always disliked anyone using grotesque costumes to hide their true identity, even in a good cause. Admittedly, Father Christmas would hardly seem grotesque to most, but in fact there are very few genuine looking Santas around the place, most looking like they got dressed in a locker with their eyes shut, sporting nylon beards and faces which frankly resemble anything but a jolly old man.

As a very small child, I was once accosted by a Santa Claus whilst sitting in the car-park of our local shopping mall. I was in the back seat of the family car, my little brother beside me, my older sister in the front seat. I watched him weave around the car park poking his heads into car windows with growing dread. Eventually, he came up to us and tried to hand us some lollipops. I panicked. Then I dropped behind the front seat of the car, pretending to look for something under the seat, and trying desperately to avoid eye contact with the guy. My brother seemed less concerned, and my sister tried to explain my ‘behaviour’ to the Claus pretender. I stayed on the floor of the car until the clone got the message and decided to move on. My sister chastised me afterwards for being so shy, but in my mind, this person was an intruder.

As I grew so did my litany of characters to avoid. It wasn’t just Santa Claus, it was the Easter Bunny, clowns, mime artists, people pretending to be statues in the park, or anyone getting in my face and attempting to sell me something in shopping malls. As a child, as a teen, as an adult, these people have been the bane of my life. Frankly I don’t find Christmas characters or even Christmas stuff generally to be that enjoyable. I avoid choirs of small children in shopping malls, people dressed as christmas fairies in shopping malls, huge crowds of people in shopping malls, shopping malls. All of these things are hell at any time, but at Christmas they become hell with muzac.

It’s not that I don’t like music, or celebrating, I just have a great deal of appreciation for subtlety, and authenticity, and I have a pathological fear of pretenders of any stripe. Put it down to having grown up with a mother who took great delight in behaving like Martha Stewart in front of company, but became the Wicked Witch of the East when there were no witnesses, and perhaps it will explain the way I detest pretense. I guess I just don’t enjoy over-the-top performers and that includes circus acts or anything strange and surrealistic.

I discovered some years ago that, pre-Rome, Christmas was originally about some other semi-religious pagan festival, and not about Jesus at all. I think it was Ceasar Augustus who morphed the two celebrations together more for reasons of political convenience than any similarities between the two. Most pagan festivals have some sort of mythological icons which represent the festival itself. Spring festivals focus on gods and goddesses of fertility, winter festivals focus on spirits of death and life and so forth. For us though, the whole Christmas thing has focused on Saint Nicholas/Father Christmas/Santa Claus, the man with the sack of presents, giving to children and the poor and unfortunate. The idea of the cold and stark mid-winter being blessed with a spirit of wealth and generosity is entirely satisfying. For those of us in Australia, its the barbeque and surf angel who is celebrated moreso than the guy with the sack of toys. Santa Claus is merely a token of our Victorian past, as he has become with most western nations. His ubiquitous nature at this time of year is taken for granted. Most people just nod and laugh when they see Santa Claus’ helpers sweating in their synthetic garments and stumping around the shopping malls and streets of our major cities. A lot of children think he is wonderful, a lot don’t I have noticed. You still get the children who cry instinctively when confronted with a man hidden behind a bushy mound of rayon barbie doll hair. They look grotesque, and to a small child who doesn’t know the difference between surreal and real, they are frightening. I was one of those children, and the surreality has not diminished with age. I don’t care who thinks I am weird for not liking Santa Claus.

But Santa Claus represents to me all of the repellent aspects of Christmas. It’s not just the consumer-driven obsession with making everything ‘perfect’ for Christmas day. For me the spirit of this season is the spirit of excess not genuine love of our fellow men. That spirit,, benevolence and generosity, is far more visible at other times of the year, despite the loud protestations of tree-hugging politically correct do-gooders who insist that we should all adopt an ‘orphan’ so they will ‘know that it’s Christmas’. A genuine do-gooder will be led by their better angels to reach out to others in need at times when it is less popular but far more necessary.

Charity does not only begin at home, it begins in the heart, and the heart is changed more completely by still small voices, not frightening or shaming ones. Not angels, not spirits of Christmas past or Christmas present (was Dickens making a play on words here?) or Christmas future, not choirs of cherubic children, not big bearded men, not the expectations of others will truly change our lives or the lives of others. Maybe we are too invested in the idea that Christmas is the only truly ‘magical’ time of the year, a time of miracles and changes of heart. Maybe Scrooge is a far more appropriate icon of the yule tide than the fat red man. Scrooge was a skinny old man who came face to face with the supernatural (albeit in a dream), his own past, and his possible future demise. The threat of hellfire, a common Victorian peril, caused a miserable old man to change his behaviour. I would love to know how old Scrooge was on boxing day and how long his ‘change’ would have lasted. In my experience, real Scrooges don’t turn on a dime and become sweet-natured disabled-children-loving old men overnight and for no other reason than they were visited by the angel of death. Cranky old bastards tend to stay that way, Christmas or no Christmas.

I guess the main reason I hate Santa Claus is that my own childhood Christmases were fairly dismal. My mother, as I said, was more into what things looked like than what they were. As a child, I longed for genuine love and generosity, moreso than gifts and food, but a gift well given is a symbol of love to me. By that I mean a gift which has been given in consideration of the person you are giving it to, symbolising an intimate knowledge and appreciation for that person. A Christmas which is filled with symbols of the power of adults over children is hardly a christmas to be remembered, unless you, like Dickens, have a morbid love of tales of hardship and deprivation.

I understand that Christmas and Santa Claus go hand in hand. I understand that consumerism and advertising use Christmas as their flagship, and that poverty becomes both the antithesis and the focus of everything Christmas represents and is therefore spoken of in tones of harsh judgement against those who don’t consider the poor, and grandstanding on behalf of those who do. I also understand that it is in the invisible realm of the human spirit and heart that the true nature of character and action is seated, and no amount of ‘christmas cheer’ is going to make a difference if you are a genuine Ebeneezer Scrooge, rather than a literary one.

 

 

How Green Was My Valley

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I have been reading ‘How Green Was My Valley’ again after many decades.  Totally different reading this as a mature married mother and wife.  Below is a bit of a quote from the Father of the family in the novel.  Huw, the youngest son has just seen a neighbour woman give birth, he wasn’t supposed to be there, being only about 12 at the time.  I love that this family are deeply committed church-goers, although not born again Christians.  I also love that the pastor of the village, Mr. Gruffydd is also a man of action who takes care of the poor and needy, detests unfairness and immorality and is able to stand up to an abusive and Pharisaical elder with gusto. This book is a tear jerker in more ways than one. 

Right then,” my father said “Listen to me. Forget all you saw. Leave it. Take your mind from it. It had nothing to do with you. But use it for experience. Now you know what hurt it brings to women when men come into the world. Remember and make it up to your Mama and to all women.”

Yes Dada”, I said.

And another thing let it do,” my father said. “There is no room for pride in any man. There is no room for unkindness. There is no room for wit at the expense of others. All men are born the same, and equal. As you saw today, so come the captains and the kings and the tinkers and the tailors. Let the memory direct your dealings with men and women. And be sure to take good care of Mama. Is it?”

Yes Dada”, I said.

God bless you my son”, he said, “sleep in peace”.

 

Richard Llewellyn ‘How Green Was My Valley’

Wake In Fright

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Thank God for Nightmares.

We have all had them. They come in different forms, with different subjects, but the common experience with nightmares is the shock, horror and fear that propels us to wake in fright, heart pounding. It usually takes us a few minutes to realise it was all a dream, a nightmare, and sometimes you need to actually get out of bed, walk around, make yourself a drink, sit and wake up properly before your brain gets a clue.

I don’t know how people without Jesus handle nightmares. All my children used to do is call out and either Steve and myself would run to them, pray over them and comfort them and they would go back to sleep. Sometimes it would take some time, but they would go back to sleep. If either Steve or myself woke up after a nightmare, we would pray for each other and the fear would go and peace would take over.

One night last year I was half asleep and suddenly woke up properly and the whole room was dark, as though there had been a blackout. But it wasn’t just dark, it was black, there was a presence in the room. The house we were in had had all kinds of weird anomalies and we were convinced that people who had rented the place previously were either witches or satanists. Doorways had appeared and disappeared, objects disappeared and reappeared practically before our eyes, we had plagues of fleas and ants and spiders, we had dog attacks, our cat died, people suddenly becoming loud and aggressive just as they walked past our house and then going back to normal once they were past, neighbours becoming hostile and aggressive and so many other things. We were convinced our neighbour was a witch, she was a deeply disturbed woman and her little boy used to laugh and cry hysterically when he went out to play. There were all sorts of strange things going on and we spent most of our time praying in tongues and just trying to get through the day. Of course we didn’t stay there, but it was the worst house we had ever been in.

But back to the ‘nightmare’, in the half-dream, half-waking experience I had, I could not move, but I could turn my head to see if Steve was awake, and I called out his name. Then I woke up properly and realised the presence had gone and the light in the bedroom was normal. It was horrible, and I will never forget it. Nightmares are the kinds of things we remember vividly, and some people are plagued with them frequently. To those ones I would counsel, call out to Jesus Christ, ask Him to save you, He is our Saviour and our protector against the darkness and our mortal enemy, Satan. You need to be born again and Jesus came to earth as a human being, indwelt by God, ‘The Word’ (see the gospel of John first chapter) in order to bear our sin, to become our sin, so that he may be sacrificed on our behalf so that we don’t have to bear the punishment of our sin. If you have not asked Jesus to save you and asked him to forgive you of your sin that sent him to the cross, you will not be received by God the father in heaven when you die. And it is this subject that I want to discuss.

Nightmares, no matter how bad they are, are simply a means that God uses to tell us that we have hope. Waking up from a nightmare has to be among one of life’s worst moments. If you have really really bad nightmares you know the horror and trauma that assails you while you are in them. But you have the blessed moment when you wake and realise it was not real, it was a dream. Fair enough, some people are still affected by the emotional torment of those nightmares, and some people simply can’t sleep because of them. But those people, in their waking moments still have hope. They can still go to Jesus and ask Him to heal them, to give them peace, to deliver them from the demons of their past and their inner minds. And He does, and He will.

We have hope.

Until we are on our deathbeds.

I am going to upload a video of the testimony of a woman who used to be a close friend of the satanist Anton Le Vey, the architect of America’s first Church of Satan. You can read about his life and career online, he was a pretty ugly character. He kept company with people like L. Ron Hubbard, also a satanist. Le Vey is reported to have ‘seen the light’ whilst on his deathbed. According to the woman in this video, satanists apparently revere death and consider it a great victory. What happened to Anton Le Vey apparently was not what he was expecting. He realised, to his great horror, that the nightmare was only just beginning and that he was not going to ever wake up from it. This is what hell is. Imagine your worst nightmare, and never being able to wake up from it. The horror, the pain and the trauma never ends, and there is no escape. Ever. For eternity.

It would take too long to list all the scriptural passages that refer to hell. I will include a fairly comprehensive article which will do that instead. To read more on what the bible says about hell go here.

The one verse which has always struck me as the most instructive is from Matthew 10:28.

27 “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10 NKJV

Even when Jesus is telling us about hell and God’s judgement, he is immediately afterwards giving us reassurance that we are valuable to him. He is giving us comfort in the midst of our fear, although it is fear of man that he is warning us against. It is better to fear God Jesus says, because God’s judgement is final and the wages of sin is eternal death.

This is why nightmares are such a vivid illustration of what awaits the unrepentant sinner, the one who ignores God’s grace. Today is the day of salvation.

Next time you have a nightmare, remember that. Remember that Jesus has given us today, the morning, the light, in which we can know the truth, and repent and be saved from eternal nightmares without end and with no escape.

Any unsaved person reading this will immediately try and dismiss this. Many so called Christians will also say that a loving God would not condemn anyone to hell, but Scripture is very clear on this subject. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it false. But God IS loving. He IS merciful, which is why He has provided a way of escape. His escape is now, while you are alive. We sometimes wonder why the very worst sinners, the mass murderers or the genocidal maniacs end up living such long lives. It is because their judgement awaits them at the end of their lives, and God is merciful to all. The rain falls on the just and the unjust, his mercy is fair and equitable to all, everyone, no matter how terrible their sin is able to be forgiven and will find a place in heaven with God. But make no mistake, a person who does not accept the salvation found in Christ will not find a place in heaven.

Our repentance needs to be true. Jesus said many will come to Him in that day, the day of the Lord (judgement day) and say ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we do this in your name, didn’t we do that in your name’, and God will say ‘depart from me I never knew you’. (Matthew 7:3) We can’t kid God. You can’t say “well, I believe” and then go on with your life as though your life is still your own. God requires not just faith, but our whole life.

25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Matthew 16:25 NKJV

 

Yet, as we give Him our lives, He gives us – in exchange – His life. Who wouldn’t rather have eternal life, the life of Christ himself than our own miserable and petty lives filled with fear and hatred and anger. We have nothing to offer God, yet He gladly receives what we have. Like the widow with two mites who gave everything she had.  (Mark 12: 41-44). Jesus told his disciples that her gift was greater than a wealthy man’s gift because she gave everything. Always in the Kingdom of God, it is the humble offering of ourselves, as little as we are, that impresses and pleases God. When Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) tried to pretend they were like the widow and gave ‘everything they had’ after selling some real estate, they were struck dead by God for lying. They could have just given what they wanted to give and kept the rest and not lied about it. Nobody was forcing them to give anything, but they wanted others to believe that they were humble and righteous, and it was this ugly and self-loving deception which caused their deaths.

So next time you wake in fright, and then feel the wave of relief when you realise that it was just a dream, remember that while it is still day you have the opportunity to make that relief an eternal reality. You will never have to face eternal torment and death if you make the decision now to accept the salvation and love that Jesus offers us.

God bless you now and forever more.

 

 

Further reading on this blog:  ‘Hell, Who Goes There‘.

 

Fake Apologies

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Jesus Warns of Offenses

17 Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him. (Luke 17 NKJV)

Here it is in black and white – or red – depending on your bible version.

  1. Offenses are COMMONPLACE.
  2. Offenders will be JUDGED.
  3. If you offend somebody REPENT.
  4. If somebody offends you REBUKE.
  5. If somebody offends you and repents – FORGIVE.

The big lie on the internet at the moment is that forgiveness should happen regardless. This lie is perpetuated by both Christian and secular writers and speakers.My guess is that the reason Christians perpetuate this lie is that they are taught by others who have not taken the time to really look at this issue.  Which is a shame, because it is a fundamental teaching in scripture.

The worldly lie is:  Forgiveness is universal, unconditional and unilateral. The emphasis is on the person who has been offended, shall we call them the victim for ease of use. If the offender does not repent, the victim should forgive them.  If they do not apologise, the victim should forgive them.  If they continue to offend without either repentance or apology, the victim should forgive them. The underlying false teaching is that forgiveness is for the sake of the victim. The almost unvarying corollary to this is that the victim cannot move on with  life unless they forgive the offender regardless of what actions the offender has taken to either repent or make reparations for their offense. The upshot of this is – if the victim doesn’t forgive, then they have sinned.  Invariably it is insinuated that the victim will also end up with a root of bitterness, in scriptural terms, they will fall away from the faith.  So long and short, forgive all offenders or you will end up in hell.  This is not just eisegesis,  it is a completely ridiculous assertion based on careless handling of the word by generations of believers who have not checked their sources.

Not only is this assertion theologically unsound, it is not even morally sound.  Psychologists will preach (rightly) that it is imperative to both recognise and honour the other person’s right to boundaries and emotions regardless of the inconvenience it presents.  Therefore, even before you act, you should be aware of those rights and act accordingly.  Should you offend another person you should apologise right away and ensure the apology is sincere. Going purely by the number of articles on the subject of fake apologies on the internet even a non-Christian gets upset when presented with an apology which avoids either recognition of wrong or repentance. Further,  people get really really upset when the offender continues to offend the same way after having just given a fake apology.  So this is a big subject.

A sincere apology involves specific recognition of the offence and an offer to do something about it. It also involves a reassurance that they will not re-offend. This proves that the offender has learned something about other people and themselves.  It proves that they are able to change their behaviour for the sake of another.  People who refuse to apologise sincerely also prove that they neither recognise boundaries nor consequences.  They are also usually repeat offenders. They reason that they have done nothing wrong and if the other person is offended it is their fault. The other person is too sensitive, or they can’t take a joke, they are fundamentalist oddballs, they are killjoys, they need to get a life and so on.

The foundation of the false teaching of unconditional forgiveness is really not about the victim at all.  It is about the offender being allowed to get away with their sins the first time, and then also being allowed to continue sinning.  The excuse is always, Jesus taught that you have to forgive me, so if you, the victim do not forgive you are actually the bad person.  The offender then continues on their merry way habitually sinning and giving themselves a get out of jail free card.  In actual fact of course, they don’t get out of jail at all, their sin will continue to affect them and in the end cause all manner of difficulties in their spiritual lives.  If they are not Christians, they will simply continue to increase in their attitude of rebellion against God and hardened hearts against their fellow human beings.

Now.  There IS a difference between somebody who does not forgive an unrepentant repeat offender and somebody who refuses to forgive a repeat offender who sincerely repents.  You might think that genuine repentance means that you don’t continue to offend. But let’s get one thing clear. There is a huge difference between repeat offenses regarding the same sin and the issue of sin continuing to affect us while we are in the flesh.  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  We do still sin.  The hope and prayer is that we sin less and less as we continue to mature.  Part of doing this is to recognise what scripture actually teaches. It is not a sin to not forgive an unrepentant sinner.  If we hold their behaviour as a reason to hold grudges and act badly towards them then we are at fault.   Here is an example. This is a true story.

I notice my neighbour is having a party – balloons and tent in back yard.  I go to my neighbour and ask if they are intending to have loud music at this party because in particular there was a loud party elsewhere the night before and it spooked our animals.  The neighbour assures me assiduously that they are NOT going to have a loud party, they are not the type to have loud rock music and upset the neighbours and they agree that the ignoramus behind both them and you also upset their own animals.  The neighbour points out how much they appreciate you coming to talk to them personally because somebody in the neighbourhood recently put an anonymous note in their letterbox complaining about their dog barking.  So you leave the neighbours house feeling good that you are on the same page.

At about 10 p.m. that night, the party, which had been progressing well, a bit of loud yelling and talking and some fairly quiet music, suddenly becomes a disco.  The music is turned right up and some very loud noises then ensue, right at the time you and  your family are going to bed.  So you go next door to ask them to turn their music down.  The woman you spoke to a few hours previously is now drunk but still cogent.  She proves to be a very nasty drunk and begins to verbally abuse you for asking her to turn the music down.  She also makes a comment about the fact that your dog was barking very early the other morning.  You point out to her that a) you immediately hauled your dog inside as soon as you heard her barking and b) that this has nothing to do with her current noise.  She starts to get really hostile. Her boyfriend/partner/husband comes to the door, tells the woman to let him handle it, thanks you for coming personally to ask them to turn the music down, and asks if there is anything they can do to help the situation.  So you, recognising the irony of the situation, (he is clearly drunk but not as drunk as the woman),  attempt to explain again politely that he needs to turn down the music.   The male neighbour promises to turn the music down but tells you that he cannot promise to keep the verbal noise to a minimum without asking the guests to leave.

The neighbours then turn the music down. About midnight they turn it up very very loud to the point that it freaks out your dog and cat just before they decide to shut down the party. The next day it turns out the party was a ‘sleepover’ so the point the neighbour made about ‘asking the guests to leave’ was a lie as well since they were obviously intending to stay the whole night.

Three days later, a very small box of chocolates together with a very small card saying ‘sorry about the noise’ appears on your front doorstep.  What do you do?

Here’s the thing.  If you offend me to my face, you apologise to my face.  You recognise that a) you were the one who promised you would not have a loud party and that you really appreciated people complaining to your face and did not like anonymous complaints and b) when we did complain to your face you abused us verbally.  You also recognise that  you created even more noise after you promised to turn down the music the second time.  So in effect, you not only continued to offend but you turned the offence volume literally and metaphorically to eleven.

A five word sentence with a box of chocolates is not a sincere apology. Further, waiting three days (??) to deliver said box of chocolates and micro-card without either waiting to talk to us personally or even knocking on the door is not only further offence, it is cowardly and hypocritical.  THEREFORE: – this is not an apology which warrants a second glance, and these are people who have proven their fickle and anarchic character and with whom you do not have any further communication unless absolutely necessary.  PS. Some might feel that the chocolates somehow prove sincerity because well, everybody loves chocolate and they at least made an effort right? Cut them some slack. But this isn’t even an argument. Chocolate is not a substitute for attending to the breach in trust and integrity which has been visited upon unsuspecting neighbours whom you have previously manipulated and assuaged with feigned assurances that you are in agreement with them about protecting pets from undue stress and enjoying neighbourhood peace and quiet. These people are not good neighbours, they are habitual liars and have no consideration for anyone other than their bad selves.  If they re-offend we will not bother coming to them personally, we will simply report them to the authorities. People write anonymous notes for a reason, and in this case, the reticence of the other neighbours to engage with these people has been proven right.

Here is an example of a genuine apology.  This is also a true story.

Recently we have been attending a Pentecostal church, something we have not been used to for some time despite having grown up in these circles.  We were used to attending Baptist churches with their usual quiet and traditional services and people.  One of the elders at this church greeted the females in our family with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.  We were not expecting it, and our daughter showed that she was not comfortable with the interaction. The elder seemed not to notice that she was reticent and went ahead and hugged her anyway.  We talked about it afterward, and later Steve went and had a quiet word with him about the appropriateness of his actions.  He apologised to Steve profusely and offered to also apologise to us.  We did not really want this interaction, but realised he was attempting to attend to the offence he had caused.

He came to us and apologised unreservedly, and such was the sincerity of his words, we told him that we appreciated that he actually offered to come and apologise for his actions and that it meant a lot to us.  His face said it all, and as he went away, we all felt good that there was no intention to ignore personal boundaries and that he normally treated women at the church in this manner. In fact, he went so far as to say that his wife was always telling him that not everyone appreciates being hugged by strange men, despite the fact that we were in church.  We all had a laugh, but the thought has occurred to me since then.  If he is ignoring his wife’s sensitivity and emotional intelligence when it comes to other women, he is going to continue stepping on people’s toes.  We hope and trust that he has learned from this admittedly uncomfortable situation.

One thought I should add to this is that our elder friend did not go through all of the steps required for a sincere apology.  He did not have to.  His heart was clearly in the right place, and love covers a multitude of sins.  In other words, when somebody immediately proves that they regret an offence by their facial expression and words, you know you are in safe hands.  Obviously time will tell whether he learns from this experience not to hug strange women, but that is between him and God and presumably his wife.  We doubt very much whether he will hug us again, and frankly, even if we end up being the best of friends, we still would not want to hug him.  In today’s climate, it is better not to give full body hugs to brothers in the Lord regardless of the circumstances. Scripture makes it clear that we need to be avoiding even the appearance of sin and the less physical contact that men and women in church have, the better for everyone. That probably sounds puritanical, but you can still love and relate well between genders without physical touch.

So, the point about sincerely apologising is really only important when you are dealing with insincere apologisers. Kind of redundant really. Genuine brothers and sisters don’t need to be lectured on this topic.  Genuine Christians will automatically be sensitive and loving to each other, and if personal or cultural backgrounds mean that there is a misunderstanding, these can easily be dealt with if there is a mutual desire for a loving relationship.

When dealing with the unscrupulous unsaved, and lets face it there are a lot of them, we need to be forthright and open and then when somebody shows you who they are, believe them.  We can pray for our neighbours, but when they lie and manipulate, they are showing you they are actually hostile and aggressive and looking for ways to control you.  Be aware and fight the demons accordingly.

Update:  The neighbours who sent us the ‘apology’ woke us up last night at 1.30 a.m. standing outside their house talking at the tops of their voices and slamming car doors.  Our dog who sleeps in the garage went off at them.  This simply serves to underline our contention that people will tell you who they are all you have to do is believe them.

Further Update:  The neighbours who sent us the ‘apology’ spent the next Saturday afternoon in their garden with their music turned up loud enough for us to hear it in our house with the doors and windows closed.  We discovered that their speakers had been deliberately turned towards our house. Our response? We prayed for our persecutors and turned on praise music – quietly enough so that only we heard it.  The neighbours noise stopped soon after that.

 

 

 

 

Truthstream Media Video about Transhumanism

A comprehensive look at transhumanism and the new technology which even the experts are freaking out about.  It talks about how the internet is changing, 5G streaming, robotics, technology which is implanted in our bodies that is linked to the internet, the ‘internet of everything’ and lots more.  Something we all need to consider.

 

 

Further reading:

In September 2015, the multi-millionaire engineer at the heart of the trade secrets lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, Google’s self-driving car company, founded a religious organization called Way of the Future. Its purpose, according to previously unreported state filings, is nothing less than to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence.”

https://www.wired.com/story/god-is-a-bot-and-anthony-levandowski-is-his-messenger/

 

Samhain and The Myth of ‘Redeeming’ Pagan Feast Days

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Samhain (pronounced ‘sow’inn’) is a very important date in the Pagan calendar for it marks the Feast of the Dead. Many Pagans also celebrate it as the old Celtic New Year (although some mark this at Imbolc). It is also celebrated by non-Pagans who call this festival Halloween.

Samhain has been celebrated in Britain for centuries and has its origin in Pagan Celtic traditions.. It was the time of year when the veils between this world and the Otherworld were believed to be at their thinnest: when the spirits of the dead could most readily mingle with the living once again. Later, when the festival was adopted by Christians, they celebrated it as All Hallows’ Eve, followed by All Saints Day, though it still retained elements of remembering and honouring the dead.  (BBC Religions site)

There seems to be a growing trend in churches to somehow ‘redeem’ the pagan celebration of the ‘Day of the Dead’.  Why is this so?  Essentially, evangelical churches see these days as a means of reaching out to the community with the truth and light of Jesus Christ.  Instead of getting involved in the usual trick or treat festivities, dressing up, eating weird food, lighting candles in pumpkins etc, some churches simply have an alternative celebration.  They use this as a means of offering something else to their children so the kids don’t feel as though they are missing out.  It also shows that the church is not opposed to celebration, but that they are celebrating in their own way.

We feel as though we are missing something here.  You only have to regard the array of witches, ghosts and devilish characters which manifest in the form of decorations and disguises to know that something is not quite right.  Many small children have been scared by people dressing up in frightening costumes, and some have even reported actually seeing demons manifest.  Let us be clear, the bible makes no bones about demonic spirits.  They are real, they were opposing and oppressing humans in Jesus day and during the New Testament era, they have not gone away, they are still here bothering humans.  Paul advises us to put on the Armour of God so that we can fight against the principalities and powers which are arrayed against us.  Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.  Rather than join him on his own ground, it would make more sense to battle him from the ground on which we already have authority.  Rather than attempting to ‘redeem’ occult feast days which actually worship demonic spirits, which by the way has no basis in scripture, we are to simply carry on living holy lives, and knowing that the days are evil, we use the time to pray against the forces which are arrayed against us, and against those who innocently join in the ‘fun’.

A lot of the thinking behind taking occult feast days and somehow trying to use them for Christian activities is the same kind of thinking which causes believers to appease politically correct thought-nazis.  We are not to be concerned about whom we will offend with the gospel. Nor are we to conform to the world (Romans 12:1-2).  Pagan idolatory has been condemned in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and we are warned against it so vehemently that scripture tells us that idolators will not inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9).  If Churches are concerned about their presence in the community, rather than attempt to fight fire with fire, why not educate the community on the feast days of the Lord?  Apart from the historical and spiritual insights the community would gain, some of the traditional food associated with some of those feasts are much better than anything we can come up with even on Christmas and Easter.

We think that the world has grown tired of their own cultural feasts, despite the fact that shops and commercial ventures make the most of any community celebration, anything from football games to Mothers day.  We have spoken to a lot of people who complain that they are sick of Christmas.  Christmas has become stressful, filled with family feuds and clashes and an overabundance of stuff nobody needs or wants.  We can eat turkey, pudding, pies and cakes til the cows come home on any day of the week.  We buy ourselves stuff every time we get a pay packet, and we can visit family or friends for any reason at all. Father Christmas is a lie, and its not even a cultural one, since most cultures don’t celebrate Christmas, but in western tradition, we do the whole thing because ‘we are supposed to’.  The same holds true with Halloween.  Australians never used to celebrate this very European and now American cultural day.  We used to ignore it completely and it is really only in the last couple of decades that schools and families used to do anything with it.  It is NOT a traditional day for us, it is simply the mindless assent to imported cultures which have nothing to do with our own.

We have enough of a problem battling demonic entities in our lives and Christian communities.  Why oh why would we need to engage with them on this of all days?  Signalling to the principalities and powers that you are happy to play with them merely communicates that you have stopped believing they exist.  The best thing that could possibly happen in their opinion.  The next best thing is for Christians to attempt to make Halloween a Christian celebration.  Nothing could be more delightful for demons to infiltrate your congregations undercover.  Why would you give Satan the kudos?

Our best means of fighting the enemy is to recognise him for who he is on this the most occult high day of the entire year.  We then recognise our authority in Christ, stand against him with all of our might, and refuse to negotiate a treaty.  We do not participate in Halloween, we do not give ground to anything which is roaming around on this or any other night of the year, and we particularly do not attempt to somehow claim the day as belonging to God. This defense above all apologetic is the most offensive.  God made his own days, his own feast days and his own holy days.  Do NOT attempt to conflate pagan idol worship with the days the Lord has set out for himself.

Any attempt to make out that this day is either just for fun and there are no such things as witches, or that witches don’t worship Satan, or that demons don’t exist etc is simply being ignorant of what the bible teaches.  It will not protect you from what happens on the days leading up to Halloween and the day itself.  This is a big deal in the occult world and it should be treated with the respect it deserves.  We wrestle not against flesh and blood, and the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but they are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).  Therefore we pray, we witness and we are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ and we carry on as though this were any other day of the week.  And if little children come knocking on the door, it is perfectly OK to simply explain that you are Christians and you don’t celebrate Halloween.  In some communities if you are going to participate in Halloween you either put a porch light on or tie a balloon to your letterbox or use some other method of letting parents know that you are happy to hand out food.  This is a good idea, but not everyone does it.  You must decide for yourselves how to navigate this, and it is not easy, but the Holy Spirit will give you the direction you need.

We will continue to pray against the spirits which are being summoned and invited to engage with human beings at this time, and we  will pray that these spirits are also stopped from tricking your church.

 

Further Reading:

https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/52738-why-christians-absolutely-should-not-celebrate-halloween

https://www.chick.com/seasonal/halloween/celebrate.asp

 

 

 

 

 

Drawing Lines In the Sand

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We began this blog as a family and we have covered all kinds of subjects, mainly to do with Christian living and spiritual abuse from cult-like churches. We have recently included some blog posts about specifics regarding our families and why we went no contact with them.

We just wanted to talk about what no contact actually is and what it isn’t and the thinking behind it because a lot of people talk about this on the net, but not a lot of people really understand the reasoning behind it.

Going no contact is not about ignoring or shunning. It is not about revenge and it is not about manipulating in order to get people to do what you want. It is an event horizon.

The phrase ‘drawing a line in the sand’ is something of a misnomer. When you think about it, sand is not something which holds it’s shape. Drawing a line in the sand is more akin to making a temporary boundary than it is to making a permanent one. Drawing a line in the cement is probably a better term to use in this instance. There is time for it to cure and therefore make the line fixed, but after that, it is indelible. Going no contact is about drawing a line beyond which reality changes.  It is a time line but also a paradigm shift. It can be temporary or not, the choice is up to you. And this, for abuse survivors is the most significant property of the no contact decision.  It is a choice we make to protect ourselves from further abuse.  A choice, I say again, that WE make.  When those choices are impugned or resisted we learn to live as viable adults who must accept that life is not simple and that we have to accept these tests of our character. It is where we grow and change.  Therefore the choice to go no contact is not just a border or barrier to abuse, it is a means by which our identity is matured. Through making and keeping boundaries we grow tougher and at the same time more malleable.  We learn to tell genuine belligerence from guileless ignorance.  And there is a difference.  The real wolves, the real life destroyers, are the blissfully unconscionable, not those people who have simply made bad choices.

Discussion online about going no contact, I think, began among those in the narcissistic abuse community. It grew from discussion about how to deal with narcissists in your family or other relationships who won’t stop abusing you. Most people do not go no-contact on a whim. In fact many people report not actually wanting to cut their abusers out of their lives altogether. Others have a great deal of difficulty making complete breaks. It is neither easy nor always possible to go this route. Often there are cases involving children where this is not possible. What is clear though, is that many recognise very early in their journey to health and wholeness that they simply cannot reason with their abusers. This is actually what prompts most people to even recognise abuse in the first place. It is the act of somebody who lacks the ability to use self-control or empathise with others, the act of somebody without a conscience who figures that laws or consequences are for other people.

I want to point out that for Christians, going no contact is reinforced by scripture. If you go to a brother and point out his sin and he refuses to deal with it, take another as a witness and try again. If he still won’t respond, take it to the church, and if he still refuses to change you refuse the sinner entry into the congregation until they come to their senses. No contact in scripture was always a means to get a sinner to stop sinning and keep the congregation safe from their behaviour. It’s all in Matthew 18.

In the case of the cult, we went to them, or rather Steve went to them, in order to talk to them about their behaviour. Steve got a lecture about how I was a ‘bad influence’ and that Steve needed to side with the elders against me and that if he didn’t…. You get the picture. Since we had already been witnesses to at least one family who they had destroyed, we got the picture very quickly. Fortunately for us, Steve stood up to their ridiculous assertions and we parted company. It took 15 years to get to this point. 15 years of trying over and over to fit in, to understand what was going wrong and usually blaming ourselves. 15 years of ‘discussions’ with cult leaders which ended up being more like confessions. During this time our self-respect was eroded, our mental well-being was undercut time and again and our faith in God and in other Christians was undermined. It was inevitable that we would come to the conclusion that enough was enough. The only reason it took 15 years was because they had not ever dealt with us in such a direct and retributive manner. We were being warned that the elders were targeting us, me in particular, because I had spoken to a ‘person of interest’, namely a woman whose marriage they were already in the process of destroying. They knew that if she talked to me, I would know the truth and they would not be able to deal with two of us knowing too much. They had already isolated her and planned on creating a divorce. In our marriage they simply warned Steve that his place was with the elders and their assessment of my danger to them. Steve saw this venality for what it was and made up his mind.

In cults unfortunately, you don’t get to enjoy the benefit of seeing them come to their senses because while you are cutting ties to them, they are cutting ties to you and lying about why you left to everyone still in the cult. They work on the people you know to ensure that they learn their lines, that we are cursed and that they should not have anything to do with us. So trying to explain to others why you are leaving is often completely pointless. They have already been brainwashed against you. Then you get all the fun things like coming face to face with cult members you barely know in the supermarket and having to ‘overhear’ them talking about you in the next aisle, or having to ask them to get out of your way so that you can get something from the shelf right behind them because they are being deliberately obstructive.

In our case, they also invaded our children’s school. Six months after we left, three cult members became teachers on our children’s campus. One of whom was in our home group for a couple of years and was to be teaching our son Nicholas. Nick was only 11 at the time, didn’t understand the dynamics of what had just happened and figured that his new teacher was a really nice lady. Which she was, to him. It was part of the agenda of dividing families.  Unfortunately, she refused to accept that Nick has dyslexia because in the cult, children don’t have learning difficulties because everything is caused by disobedience to the cult leaders. So it became impossible to relate to her. So going no contact was not really an option for us. The minute you leave a cult, you are persona non grata.

As far as going no contact with our families the minute we explained where we were coming from, the more we saw that our siblings in particular were not going to listen to us and were going to protect and agree with our mothers, on both sides of the family. Kind of interesting that both of us had the same dynamics happening.

The fact is that the whole ‘waking up’ crisis involves a deep level of trauma in itself. In effect, dealing with family who support a corrupt leadership is exactly the same as dealing with a congregation who support a corrupt leadership. If its not happening to them they will ignore, minimize, justify, explain and generally blame you instead of thinking that maybe there is something to what you are talking about. People will label you as the ‘crazy one’ rather than take time to understand. If you know anything about brainwashing and group-think, especially in relation to trauma bonding, you will understand that it takes a HUGE shift in thinking and an attendant strong emotional disturbance before you are able to even empathize. People who are not involved in the group will more easily be able to judge your story objectively. We discovered this the hard way. We did not want to have to go and tell our story to strangers, but having come from a cult and then recognizing the same dynamics in our own families, we realized we had no choice. Nobody we knew, nobody who had known us for decades, was going to be able to help us.

In a cult, you may be able to get the other inmates to agree that something is wrong. They may even go so far as to start questioning the status quo themselves. But its’ like being on a piece of elastic. People will only go as far as the elastic allows them and then spring back to their original mindset. It’s a form of self-protection. Any seismic shift in reality is incredibly difficult to manage. Human beings are more likely to stay warm and safe in bed than want to get out and get dressed in the cold. Once you are out however, you realise if you stay in bed, you won’t be living your life, you will be just existing, however warm and comfortable you will be. It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees as the old saying goes. To which I would add, it is better to die in your shoes than be murdered in your beds. You still die, but at least you will have lived first.

So short of deliberately shaking people up you are really forced to make more changes in your life when your family and friends refuse to see the truth and choose rather to continue living with a lie. That is their choice, in the end yours will take you down a different path. What inevitably occurs however, is that while you manfully make your choice and travel down another road, there will be the pain of loss and even further abuse from a family who not only don’t understand your choice but actively oppose it at every opportunity.

So you will have to further consolidate your losses by making the choice to stop the exposure to more abuse. In our cases, we communicated with family members, wrote letters to explain our positions and were met with insults, accusations, fake apologies or attempts to diffuse the situation by saying ‘but we love you so much’ which actually does nothing to deal with the problem at all. Especially when you know that ‘love’ in an abusive environment is not love at all. People can be brainwashed into thinking that they are loved when they get attention, or they are given treats, or they are allowed to spend time with the person they want attention from. It is extremely easy to manipulate people into thinking that the leadership cares about them if the leadership plays good cop bad cop on a regular basis and keeps either the congregation or the group members in a constant state of imbalance, never knowing what is coming next. It is really the definition of “Stockholm Syndrome”. The reason that kidnapping victims end up relying on their captors and in some cases developing romantic relationships with them. They end up getting into a state of learned helplessness and believe that they have to do what they can to survive. Cult members do the same thing except on a much longer term basis. All of the friends we left behind in the cult have been there now for nearly 30 years. Their kids are all married and having kids of their own. It is a loss we feel at a very deep level because our own children were cut off from their friends and should have been having a life with these young adults, and sharing their own children with each other. You might think that we should just get on and ‘get a life’. But bearing the scars of a loss of a friendship group, especially in a christian group where the connection is spiritual as well as social and familial, is not something you can outlive or distract yourself from. These scars are lifelong, they are not to be dismissed lightly and they should be respected. You don’t just ‘get a life’. It is the reason that Christ’s scars remained after his resurrection. His sacrifice for us was not just temporal, it was eternal. Relationships involve deep scars, some sacrificial, some malignant, but we all bear them. It is what makes us human, the images of the God who created us.

Making the choice to go no contact with abusers and their supporters is the very means by which survivors ‘get a life’. We move on with our lives, cognizant of the memories of the people we choose to remove ourselves from, and not without the pain of knowing those relationships will possibly not ever be mended. We have told our relatives, in writing, that when they begin to treat us with respect, we will be happy to talk with them again. The ball is actually in their court. If they want to start talking to us as equals and with a genuine desire to relate in a healthy way, we are happy to talk with them. Nobody has ever taken us up on that. They have simply used our refusal to be treated badly as a weapon against us and even gone so far as to tell their own children that we want nothing to do with them either. This is patently not true. We do not know their children, they have made sure of that. As adults they have their own lives, and they can contact us if they wish to verify what happened. They are not likely to do this unless they experience a waking up of their own through hardship or trauma.

It is really that simple. We have learned to draw the line, to cut off the generational abuse. That may mean that we never have extended family around us until our own children marry and have their own children. We have come to terms with that and do not expect anyone to come searching for us. In fact, we expect the opposite. This blog is not widely read, and probably will never be. It is simply our means of speaking up about what has happened to us and why we have taken the action we have.

We wish no ill on anyone. In fact, we pray to the effect that no ill will happen to our family and even now, knowing that our mothers are old and will very shortly be required to stand and give account to God for their lives, we pray they will be spared the agony of being denied an eternity in His presence. We wish nobody the torment of hell, but since people make their own decisions about God likewise they make their own decisions about hell. I know that our families know the gospel, because we have told them the gospel ourselves. They are without excuse.

28 Peter began to say to Him, “Look, we have left everything and followed You.”

29 “Truly I tell you, said Jesus, “- no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for My sake and for the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundredfold in the present age—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, along with persecutions—and to receive eternal life in the age to come.

(Mark 10: 28-30)