Plan ‘B’

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Living in chaos from earliest memory, it has been important to have a Plan B in place for all contingencies.  Some people have called this Defensive Pessimism, or more recently a Pre-mortem.  It involves examining all possibilities, usually negative ones and then working out what you will do if those possibilities become realities.  Like a postmortem you need to carefully look at what could happen – rather than what did happen – and work backwards.

The trouble with Plan B’s is that you are not living in reality you are living in possibility and worse, you are living in negative possibilities.  So if all you are seeing is the negative, you are not seeing the good stuff.  Moreover, you are not interpreting what happens from a godly perspective.

If God made you and put you here, and He did, then what happens to you is His concern, not yours.  Your concern is to respond to God, your creator.  If your response is gratitude, love and worship, coming from a heart which has been changed and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, then you are going to know God’s love to you in a much deeper way.  You are going to experience the peace and joy that comes from knowing and SEEING God work in your life.

This is actually the trouble that a lot of unsaved, or unbelievers, experience.  They say ‘If God loves me then why did he let this terrible thing happen to me’.  They don’t, and I hesitate to use this phrase, ‘feel the love’.  They don’t feel it, because they don’t know it.  Scripture tells us that God’s love abides in us and we know that because we have ‘love for the brethren’.  In other words, if you love God’s people, then the love of God is present in you.  If you don’t love God’s people, and that covers most unbelievers, then God’s love is not in you.  If God’s love is not in you, then you are not going to either see God the way He is, nor are you going to understand why God allows things to happen to you. Nor are you going to recognise that a lot of what happens to unbelievers is because they are walking in disobedience to and rebellion against God.  God does love unbelievers in the same way He always has.  But if you are not interested in God’s love and work actively against God and His people, then you had better watch out.  No.  God is not going to ‘get’ you.  But the principle or law of sowing and reaping is always active in the world.  God won’t get you, but the results of your own actions will. Also, God’s word tells us that vengeance belongs to Him.  If you attack him, and attacking His people is the same thing, then He will take vengeance. (Psalm 34:21)

It is interesting that many Christians will also ask this question or express the concern that they are not ‘feeling’ the love of God.  God helped me see the reason for this some time ago.  I had been getting more and more agitated that I didn’t feel loved by God. I wanted God to somehow show me that He loved me and was really looking for some kind of overwhelming tsunami of emotion to hit me to prove that I was being supernaturally loved.  What God showed me was that this is not love.  Human beings think love acts a certain way and they tend most of the time to think that it has something to do with feeling emotionally excited the same way they would if they had just ‘fallen in love’ with somebody.  In fact, this ‘falling in love’ thing is not love at all, it is a mixture of a lot of emotions, and a lot of the emotion is lust not love.  Genuine love is not an overwhelming feeling, or at least not most of the time, it is a steady, strong sense of an open heart full of affection, adoration (in the right sense), the desire to bless and edify, belonging and loyalty as well as a host of others.  It is almost impossible to describe genuine love in anything other than a very long complex description because it is an incredibly rich sense, and I would not call it an emotion, but a way of seeing somebody.

In God’s kingdom, His love is encapsulated in the fact that He gives His people the Spirit of Adoption which cries ‘Abba’, Father. This is the term Jesus himself used when addressing the Father just before His crucifixion.

36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.

Mark 14 NKJV

Paul also encouraged both the Galatians and the Romans by exhorting us to cry out to God the same way, to our Father in heaven, not just a name, but an actual, in fact the very first ever, creator and progenitor of children.

15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

Romans 8 NKJV

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

Galatians 4 NKJV

He has made us His own.  That is a very special feeling.  It is the epitome of His love, the sense not just of belonging to God’s family but of being cared for.  If your father was a good man who loved you affectionately and openly, you can thank God for that.  You have a good inheritance to pass on to your children. If not, you can still thank God.  Psalm 27:10 tells us that when our mother and father forsake us, the Lord will take us up.  David, the writer of the psalm, knew what that meant.  His family forsook him, yet God anointed him as king of Israel when he was just a boy, and the youngest boy in the family at that.  The others saw him as just a shepherd boy, the least important and least vital member of the family.  But God made him king because he had a ‘heart after God’.

God showed me that I did indeed know the love of God. He asked me whether I loved Him.  When I examined my heart, I realised I did indeed love Him.  That, He said, was His love.  We can’t love God unless He has put a love for Him in our hearts first. And that genuinely is love, it has all the attributes of the love we have for the human beings we care deeply for and it also has a supernatural quality, but it’s not something I can describe, you have to experience it for yourself.

Some unbelievers at this point might say well if God is the one who puts the love in your heart then what’s the point?  It’s up to God isn’t it?  God tells us that He knows His own, and also that His people know His voice.  But in order to come to God, you still have a choice.  If you truly want to know God and want to know His love in your heart, all you have to do is come to Jesus.  Talk to Him!  Tell Him what is in the depths of your heart.  There is no sinner on the face of the earth that will be turned away by God if they truly come with an open heart and wish to do business with Him.  Only God can show you what is in your heart, and only God can cleanse you from what is in there.  If you know that your heart is filled with dirt and filth, and if you are honest you will know what kinds of dirt and filth you have been playing with all your life, then the blood of Jesus Christ can cleanse us from that filth so that we can come before God with clean hands and a pure heart.  Every true believer wants to have a pure heart.  Even David when he committed adultery with Bathsheba came before God with a repentant heart and cried out “Cast me not away from your presence O God, take not your Holy Spirit from me!”.  He had known the presence of God and His blessings.  But he also knew that, in the time before Christ, he had to come to God and make confession so that he could be made clean and the proper sacrifices made to cleanse him.  In the Old Testament, men laid their hands on the animal to be sacrificed to transfer their sin to the animal and the animal was then killed and its blood sprinkled on the altar.  God cleanses us today through the final sacrifice of His Son upon the altar of Gethsemane, and if we come to Him and recognise that He bore our sins that day on the cross, we will be cleansed, made whole, made clean and made acceptable to God.

God sent Jesus because He so loved the world that He was willing to die for us.

We don’t need any more proof of God’s love than this, and it is this single most important event in the history of Humankind that will determine whether we will know God’s love within our own heart.  We Christians can tell you that God loves you til we are blue in the face, but you won’t know that love in your heart until you are first made clean by God himself and then filled with His love and His Spirit.

If you want to make that choice, all you need to do is understand and accept the final sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God and ask Him to cleanse you from your unworthiness.

We are all unworthy before God.  There is none good, not one.  We have all sinned and fallen from the perfection God meant every human being to have.  There is no need for me to be making Plan B’s.  God doesn’t need a Plan B.  His Plan A, Jesus Christ, is the only provision I need.  It is only my flesh, my old nature, the nature I was born with that pushes me to anxiously analyse and plan.  It is not peace and joy, it is torment and agitation. This is not God’s plan for me or for anyone.

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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)

My Faith Journey – Anita’s New Beginning

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I was 13 years old and in the second year of High School. A girl I had met in Art class asked me if I would like to go to a holiday camp with her during our Autumn break. I HATED camps. I had no idea why, but I wanted to go on this one. Those two weeks in May literally changed my life.

We had to travel to Christmas Creek in the Lamington Plateau on the Queensland border. On the bus there was a group of girls who were mucking around and having fun. But they didn’t seem like the usual types of girls I had known at school. They were kind and joyful and there was something else. They didn’t do the usual teenage thing with strangers.  They didn’t dismiss you with their self-absorption. There was an unspoken acceptance in their faces, there was a glimpse of something preternatural, yet completely compelling. A doorway to heaven opened that day. Light streamed through that opening and hit my deepest soul and I felt as though I had come home.

There were about 7 or 8 other girls in our cabin. The first day they were all lively and chattering together as well as asking me questions out of genuine interest. I wouldn’t even tell them my name. I just told them I was ‘Shelley’s friend’. They were confused but they didn’t badger me. When I was ill, the camp leaders showed compassion and concern and gave me advice and comfort. I was so unfamiliar with this that I didn’t really know what to do with it. Even Bible studies, which were a mystery to me, were fun with these people. They were not trying to play one person off against another, they weren’t trying to embarrass anybody who didn’t know the answers, there was absolutely no sarcasm.

I was totally engaged. And for a kid who had grown up feeling totally isolated, this was a huge change. Something was going on. I had no time to think about it, all I knew was that the two weeks flew by.

Later, when Shelley asked if I wanted to pray and ask Jesus into my heart, I knew I wanted what these girls had. I needed some time to feel ready to do what I needed to do, but one night in the second week of the camp, Shelley and I had agreed we would pray together and I would ask Jesus to come and be my Saviour and Lord. We had planned to get up in the middle of the night and pray together.  Why then? It made it more exciting I suppose. We were teenagers.  What can I say?  Except Shelley refused to wake up. I didn’t want to wake up the others in the cabin, so I simply prayed my own prayer and tried to remember the words that Shelley had used. I knew what I was praying, even if I didn’t have a full grasp of everything that it involved. Jesus became the central point around which my life revolved.

Those two weeks introduced me to the body of Christ and the joy of living that we were meant to have as God’s own children. When they told me I had to share my faith with my family my heart fell. Nobody talked about religion at home except for my oldest sister who had been immersed in the religious teachings of a cult leader in America. There was constant friction every time the subject of God came up. Nobody wanted another religious convert in the family.  I hardly knew what to say to them.

All I know is that I tried to explain what had happened to me.  I remember crying when my mother made it clear she wanted nothing to do with it.  It was a hard thing for a 13-year-old to face but it didn’t change my faith.  I had signed up for a free mail-out of Scripture Union booklets with a year’s worth of bible readings and commentary.  They were called ‘Daily Bread’.  Many Christians have used those resources over the years, but for me, they were an oasis in the desert.  I think it was what kept me going during that time.  I wasn’t able to get to church except on the odd occasion somebody was willing to drive me there.

Strangely, Shelley fell away.  The last time I talked to her was just after I got married.  I phoned her up, and she wanted nothing to do with me.  No explanation, just angry denunciations and demands that I go and relate to my church friends.  We had spent many years after we left school just going to the movies or having coffee together. I will never know what happened to her, but I get a sense she just got too involved in the world and left her former faith behind as though it was a piece of clothing that no longer fitted. Contacting her probably just reminded her of who she had been and it was too much for her to cope with.  My prayer is that she finds her way back before it’s too late.

I was baptised when I was 19, but not after having faced months of panic attacks and the recognition that I needed more than just bible studies to thrive as a Christian. But that is another story.

Spirit, Soul and Body

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I have been a Christian for a very long time.  But 40 years ago, when I first gave my life to Jesus and accepted Him as Lord and Saviour, I knew very little about the mechanics of my belief.  Later, when I began attending a Baptist church around the corner from where I lived, I was still hazy about what I really believed.  I was very immature, eager to learn and yet the church I attended did not teach the basics of my faith.  The preaching focused on bible verses or stories from the Old Testament which contained morals or facts about God and how we are to live as Christians, but I was not informed about things like the differences between soul and spirit, or soul and body and how these three interact.

Recently I have been doing some bible study.

I have come to a very important understanding which I wish I knew 40 years ago.  And it all seems to be predicated on two little verses, Romans 12:1-2.  They say this:

Romans 12New King James Version (NKJV)

Living Sacrifices to God

12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

These verses have been with me for a couple of years.  I just can’t seem to get away from them.  They are powerful, all consuming, and seem to sum up the life of the Christian.  If my mind is renewed, I am transformed. But if I don’t first of all sacrifice myself, reject the world and all friendship with it then I won’t be able to be renewed, transformed and be able to prove the will of God.

I have been learning that our spirits are made whole, are saved and sanctified, are filled with the Holy Spirit and it is through our spirits that we hear the living Word.  Yes, the bible is an important book, it is the Word of God also, and the living Word who indwells us always agrees with His written word.  To do otherwise would be to be something less than who He is.  So, our spirits are the most important part of us.  If we can get our minds filled with the Spirit, to have the mind of Christ, and to understand the mysteries of God as Paul encourages us in 1 Corinthians 2, then the rest of us will be transformed.

Let me give you a practical illustration.

This morning I was praying.  A thought came to me, I won’t say what thought but it was very destructive.  The thought told me something that I started to believe.  Before I knew it, the thought had produced a stirring in my soul, and my emotions began to bubble and stew and create such anguish and pain that I knew I had to do something.  I had to act, in order to counter the reality that this thought presented to me.  I began to think of what I could do to change my imaginary circumstances.

I sat down to have breakfast and opened up the Bible as I often do.  I began to read in 1 Corinthians 2 and 3 and while I was pondering the Word of God, I realised, I had allowed my carnal mind to inform my whole existence.  I had allowed a stray thought to change my emotions which then caused me a great deal of pain which compelled me to act in order to change my circumstances.  I figured if I could change my circumstances, I would feel empowered, instead of victimised, as the thought told me I was.

After reading the word for a short time, my mind became renewed on this topic.  And interestingly the verses I was reading didn’t actually relate at all to the issue at hand.  All it did was enable me to focus on the Word of God instead of the lies of the Devil.  All of my thoughts, emotions and plans evaporated, and I realised how foolish, and sinful, I had been.  Yet, this situation taught me a tremendous truth.  All that I had been learning about Spirit, Soul and Body was becoming a reality!  If I had taken that thought captive to Christ and allowed His mind to inform me, I would have saved myself a morning’s worth of anguish and foolishness.

Another practical application of this related to a discussion I had with my daughter about wanting to change something about herself at a moment’s notice without considering what was driving her.  We talked a bit about it, and much later after focusing on the Word, and talking about the things I am discussing here, she realised her desire to change herself physically came about because of a thought that she had about herself, that she was unloved and unacceptable.  This was a lie!  Yet the lie stirred up her emotions, and then caused her to want to act in a way which would have ended up being very unsatisfying.  The root cause of her dissatisfaction wasn’t physical at all. It was believing a lie about herself instead of focusing on the truth that God not only loved her but His Spirit dwelt in us to bring life to our mortal bodies.  (Romans 8:11)

Psychology tells us that our emotions are a result of outward circumstances.  Somebody says something offensive and we are immediately hurt.  But in fact, what somebody says to us means nothing if we have did not already believe that about ourselves.  If somebody mocks you and tells you that you are ugly, and you are not, then the slur is like water off a ducks back, in fact it can be kind of amusing.  However, if you actually believe you are not only ugly but  unlovable because of it, the insult hits at the lie we believe and causes the sore spot to flare up and create huge emotional waves. It can drive us to despair.

Our thoughts dictate to us and our souls and bodies.  Then we act on those thoughts and feelings and often our bodies are the recipients of some fairly horrible consequences. At a superficial level, we can tattoo, pierce, and surgically alter ourselves but at a more dangerous level we can fill our bodies with drugs or other substances which provide relief from painful emotions, and even in extreme cases, abort children or commit suicide because our thoughts tell us not only are our lives irrelevant but our bodies are not affected by our actions.  Neither of these lies bring life.  They literally in some cases produce death, not just to us but to others.

A friend of our family attempted suicide last year.  She was not a Christian and was in a coma for weeks.  We prayed for her, because she had four children, the youngest was only about 7 years old, her oldest was just about to get married. Apparently this woman had a history of depression and had used medication to deal with it.  But at the root of her problems was the belief that her life was irrelevant..  It could not have been further from the truth.  Our family prayed for her solidly for a month. But I remember taking this issue to the Father who told me sadly, ‘She has made her decision’.  We don’t want to believe anyone could do such a terrible thing, but in fact, if you believe a lie, not only will your soul be affected but eventually your body will be treated with contempt.  If nothing matters and your life is worth nothing, then it doesn’t matter what you do.  But if everything matters, and your life is not your own but you were bought with a price, then you will see yourself and everyone around you as worthwhile people who deserve to be treated with respect regardless of who they are.  Human lives mean something, but Satan, who is the destroyer of our souls and bodies wishes to make us believe we are worthless.  He is a liar.

Proverbs 23:7 tells us that as a man thinks, so is he.

23 When you sit down to eat with a ruler,
Consider carefully what is before you;
And put a knife to your throat
If you are a man given to appetite.
Do not desire his delicacies,
For they are deceptive food.Do not overwork to be rich;
Because of your own understanding, cease!
Will you set your eyes on that which is not?
For riches certainly make themselves wings;
They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.Do not eat the bread of a miser,[a]
Nor desire his delicacies;
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
“Eat and drink!” he says to you,
But his heart is not with you.
The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up,
And waste your pleasant words.

These verses talk about deceptive words from gluttons and misers.  In their heart they are against you, but outwardly their actions try and convince you that they are your friend.  Our actions begin in the heart, or mind.  Our mind thinks a thought which immediately produces emotions, usually negative ones, although this can work positively as well, but our carnal minds are often the source of a great deal of anxiety.  We create dramas in our own imaginations which then lead us to take action in ways which we never would if we believed the truth. This is why faith is substance and evidence.  It is not JUST a thought or belief.  Thoughts produce actions, faith produces works. So many believers get confused about James’ letter thinking he is talking about works producing salvation. That is NOT what he said.  He said what you believe will change how you act. Your belief in the gospel will cause you to do works which are the result of that faith. Thoughts produce action, either to the glory of God or the glorification of the flesh.

It is possible to have an intellectual assent to God’s truth, but unless you actually believe that the Holy Spirit dwells in you, you won’t act on it.  Today, I acted on a lie which produced death, then later, I acted on a truth which produced life. My works, my actions, were a result of what I believed, my faith.

God is truth.  He speaks the truth always.  So as we immerse ourselves in His Word, and allow His Spirit to speak to us through the Word, we will begin to think as He thinks.  We will have the mind of Christ.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1

10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment

Our minds are to be united to Christ’s, just as our minds together as brothers and sisters should be united so that there be no divisions amongst us.  On a wider level, most church splits have come about because of divisions which arise when one person speaks one thing and somebody else disagrees with them, and the thoughts give rise to emotions which cause actions and those actions can produce acrimony and dramatic tensions which inevitably become grave estrangements from one another as Christians.  This is how different sects and denominations have formed.  Not because God wills it. Some might suggest that because Paul and Barnabas disagreed it is OK to have disagreements which create splits in churches.  But this isn’t the kind of disagreement they had.  They were still of one mind regarding Christ and the gospel, they simply disagreed regarding the fate of one individual who happened to be related to Barnabas.  And later in Scripture you will read that this was no acrimonious split, Paul and Barnabas were still relating to each other.

Our minds have a great capacity to create imaginary scenarios which we believe to be true.  We may not necessarily be deceived, but we don’t sit down and think things through. More importantly, we don’t take everything to the Lord in prayer and wait on the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom. We can hear from the Lord, scripture tells us so. Romans 12:2 is a classic example of this.

We need to take every stray thought captive to Him, and ensure that we are focusing our minds on Him throughout the day.

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.

The Upside of Rejection

 

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Is Shunning biblical?  Short answer – yes.

But lets look more closely at the term shunning. When I use this term, I mean the isolation and rejection of and by people in your social circle and family. It is behviour that has been used by cults to get compliance to orders from their members, and it has also been used by churches to describe the discipline that is metered out to those who won’t listen when they are told to stop sinning. The two are actually very different.

Paul gave the churches instruction on how to deal with reprobates. He frequently told his people ‘from such turn away’, usually from false teachers and brethren who were wasting the church’s time and energy. 2 Timothy 3:5 and 1 Timothy 6:5 are two examples of this. Paul spoke about false teachers being twice cursed (Galatians 1), Peter talked about false teachers and their effects on the church in 2 Peter, and John the apostle talked about false teachers in his second epistle saying that those who greeted them ‘shared in their evil deeds’.

So, if by shunning you mean having nothing more to do with those who refuse to stop preaching false gospels, then it is definitely biblical.

There is even a story told by John’s disciple Polycarp which spoke of the fact that on one instance when John had heard that there was a known false teacher, Cerinthus,  in the bathing house he was going to he left in a hurry, convinced that the roof would fall in because of this person. Now that is the fear of God. Whatever happened to that kind of reverence for the gospel?

Nowadays, there is no such concern among most of the church going public. Those who consider themselves Christian seem to have no real concern about false teachers or their influence. They happily read, listen to and even greet false teachers with open arms. There is no fear of God, no wisdom and no desire for spiritual things. They would not go to the lengths that scripture demands, to avoid false teachers, most church-going Christians today would not even recognise a false teacher because they are so used to false teaching from their own pastors.

Then there is the ‘shunning’ or ‘sending away’ which occurs when churches use the biblical method of disciplining those who refuse to change their behaviour when they have been confronted a number of times by church members.(Matthew 18).  The sort of behaviour I am talking about is usually confined to sexual immorality or abuse. It is the end run of the sort of pastoral care that involves taking church members to task for the kinds of behaviour that affect other church members and even whole churches. It is necessary for the morale and faith of the whole congregation and it is usually not done often and only towards the most reprobate of offenders. It is the equivalent of sending somebody to prison for their crimes. Except in church environments it is used prayerfully and not without a great deal of pain and concern by all involved. Nobody uses the ‘sending away’ principle on a whim, and hopefully there will also be follow through. If the offender refuses to change and does not come back to the church that is their decision. But in most cases, there will be an opportunity for that person to come back when they are ready. Prayer and fasting is usually involved by all concerned.

The ‘shunning’ which is practiced by controlling churches is a different matter however. This type of shunning involves church members literally running away from you if they see you in the street. They will justify their behaviour by saying that the person who left, or was kicked out, is a ‘bad influence’ and they need to oust this person in order to save the offender’s souls. This is not usually the case. The shunning that is done is purely motivated by the flesh and is in fact a punishment for not doing what they are told unquestioningly by their abusive leaders. Most people who are shunned by cults and controlling churches are shunned because they have had the courage to speak up about the abuse. It is not a badge of dishonour, it is more of an indicator of who the church members themselves are.

I want to point out the difference at this juncture between shunning and the issue of ‘going no contact’ with abusive relatives and friends.

If shunning is avoiding spiritual poison, then ‘going no contact’ is about avoiding emotional poison; reprobates and those who refuse to stop abusing you. It may seem like a no brainer, but most people who have been involved in long term abuse have had their brains re-wired. I am not a neuro-surgeon. But I have read a great deal about brainwashing and neuro-plasticity which is the study of the brains’ ability to change the way it thinks. When you have been raised by an abuser, or been strongly influenced by an older sibling who is an abuser, you are taught to think the way the abuser wants you to think. You may grow up believing that you are a good, nice, caring person who serves others and wants to do good for them. In fact, you have been wired to think that this is what you are. You will go out of your way to avoid conflict, you will feel extremely uncomfortable whenever anyone else is angry or upset and you will do whatever you can to defuse stressful or threatening situations, usually by avoiding the person who causes them or doing things that make or keep them happy. If you can’t do that, you will probably end up going out of your way to get into their good books by doing more than you need to do, working harder, or bending over backwards by giving them what they want.

This is a recipe for your personal disaster and nobody has ever gained anything by living this way, except of course the abuser. But the abused person will not even think they are being abused. They will tell you that their abuser is a great person, has many good qualities etc. Sure, they say, he or she may be a bit short tempered and ‘I don’t really like it when they….(fill in the blank) ….but they are definitely not abusive’. The abuser is a nice guy, the victim of the abuse is a nice guy and we all get along famously. Until you get sick  or face some kind of personal difficulty which prevents you being their slave, or finally answer the clue phone and decide you have had enough of being stabbed in the back, treated like a doormat and taken for granted. Then the mouse will roar. However, what the victim needs to recognise is that they were never a mouse to begin with. They actually began life with their own personality, varied, wonderful, talented and quirky, fun to be with, free, happy and enjoying life. It was only when their parent/older sibling/relative began to use them for their own ends that the otherwise joyful child becomes fearful, withdrawn and subservient. Behold, another victim of abuse is created. And your creator is your abuser.

The objects of this kind of abuse is very good at reading people and empathising, anticipating needs and assessing risks. You are a good analyst both of situations and people. You are also probably pathologically terrified of people, in particular those types of people who resemble the abuser you grew up with; namely, narcissists and sociopaths. It takes a huge amount of time and energy for people in this situation to get to the point that they understand what happened to them, that they are not who they have been told they are – compliant, obsequious and servile. You fully believe that you are a great person, although deep down you really don’t like yourself very much. In fact, when you are having a bad day, you actually feel a lot of self-hate because you know instinctively that this is not the sort of life that you want, nor are you the sort of person you were created to be.In fact, to borrow a much loved phrase from A.A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh,

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

You need to be able to speak up about the abuse, you need to break the silence which has been forced upon you by your abuser, and you need to be able to hear yourself say ‘no’ to them. This will inevitably drag up all of your worst fears, and they are well founded. Most abusers have legendary tempers and you will h ave to face that when you tell them you don’t want to have any more to do with them. Abusers are not open to discussion, they are not reasonable and pliable people. There is a reason they are abusers. So when you speak up, you have to face what you have been avoiding for years.

We do not encourage anybody to speak up to their abuser without a great deal of help and support from others who understand the toxic dynamics of the situation. You need prayer, whether you are a Christian or not, because you are facing, and wrestling with, spiritual forces of wickedness. This is why you have been under so much pressure, you have not just been dealing with a human abuser, you have been dealing with a demonic one as well. Therefore it is a fait accomplis that you will have to break off all connection with them sooner or later for your own mental health. You can no longer continue to live as a slave to somebody else’s moods and whims. You must find yourself again and you must learn to use your voice, your authentic voice, not the one that the abuser gave you, which in effect is their own voice. You have been like the character of Echo in the Greek Myth of Narcissus. She was not able to use her own voice, only to echo back the last words of her lover Narcissus. She was previously a very talkative person who loved to have the last word. She was cursed by Juno because by her talking she distracted Juno and allowed Juno’s adulterous husband’s lovers to get away from her. Echo used to be somebody else, but she became a shadow of her former self, literally, and faded away to nothing as all echoes inevitably do.

As lifelong victims of serial abusers, we learn to echo their words, adore and worship them and throw our lives away in pursuit of their attention and love, only to be rejected and shunned by them.

Now, it feels like shunning to reject and cut off contact from these abusers, but in actual fact you have to do this in order to regain your authentic self. As a Christian, it is important to know who you are before God in order to be able to relate to him honestly and truthfully. We worship Him in Spirit and in truth therefore we need to be able to recognise that our personalities are not what we had previously thought.

Rejection has an up-side. If you are rejecting abuse, slavery and bullying and the people who use these forms of perverted relationship then you are rejecting deception, lies and the castration of your soul. This can only be a good thing. Moreover, once you are no longer living the lie that your abuser forced you to live, you can see the world, and in fact your God in a completely different light and you will be able to partake of the eternal life that God promises us through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Heart Transplant

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I read some time ago about the studies of a psychoimmunologist Paul Pearsall around the unexpected symptoms experienced by heart transplant recipients. Pearsall apparently researched the mental side of heart disease, gathering data and formulating theories. He wrote a book called ‘The Heart’s Code’ which documents these theories. Pearsall himself went through a life threatening cancer during which he became friends with others experiencing the same heart diseases and facing the need for transplants.

A certain number of them, around 15%……were known to report quite spontaneously that they know things about the person whose heart they received, or else their behaviour or preferences changed, and when it was researched, it was found that these changes were indeed in the direction of being more like the person whose heart they had received.”

(Strengthening your Decisions Through ‘Cardiac Exercise’ Elaine Aaron ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’ Comfort Zone Newsletter August 2005 http://www.hsperson.com)

The heart is the very centre of a person’s body,, the organ which pumps our life blood around. “It can communicate instantaneously with all of the body, 73 trillion cells, via the circulatory system. Pearsall thinks, in fact, that the heart in its central location and with its contact with every cell is constantly sending out ‘info-energy’ that every cell recognizes, so that each cell uses its DNA to become a sort of holographic image of the energy coming from the heart. “ (Elaine Aaron as above)

I should point out here, that while I appreciate Elaine Aaron’s research on the physiology and psychology of highly sensitive people, as a Christian, I am aware that this ‘research’ from Paul Pearsall and Dr. Aaron contained in the above article is highly humanistic and biased against a Christian understanding of our spirituality. I do not recommend this kind of ‘teaching’, but I was interested in the findings regarding heart recipients.

The ramifications for us as human beings are vast. As Christians, we know that God changes our hearts, but we also know that scripture tells us that He desires to give us a completely new heart. When he spoke to the prophet Ezekiel, he told him to tell Israel that He wanted to literally give His people a heart transplant. He wanted to take out the heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. How can a heart of stone beat? Clearly God is talking about their hardness towards himself. You can’t get any harder than a stone and in fact, a heart of stone is a dead heart, there is no life in a rock, it is the result of thousands of years of compression and resistance against great geological forces.

Ezekiel 11:19,20

Then I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within them and take the stony heart out of their flesh that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgements and do them; and they shall be My people and I will be their God.

In scripture, we see this concept of having a change of heart and a subsequent change of personality a number of times.

Saul is given a new heart when he is anointed King. All of a sudden he is able to prophecy with the prophets, he becomes literally a new man.

1 Samuel 10:6

Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man”

1 Samuel 10:9

So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart’ and all those signs came to pass that day”.

Saul changed to the point that all who knew him commented on the change in his behaviour. He had become a new and different man because God had changed his heart.

David prayed for not just a change of heart when he repented of the sins of adultery and murder, but he asked God to create in him a clean heart and to renew a right spirit. He needed to become a ‘new’ man so that he no longer wanted to sin in the way he had.

Psalm 51:10

Create in me a clean heart, O God And renew a steadfast heart spirit within me”.

Psalm 16:7

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons”.

God’s work on David’s heart had been such that he could trust the instructions from God which came from it.

In fact, we know that God called David ‘A man after my own heart’. This is a rare honour indeed.

The nation of Israel is also pictured in the book of Ezekiel as being the recipients of new hearts and God is the heart surgeon who removes the heart of stone to give them a heart of flesh. In all of these cases, the new heart results in a desire for the things of God and a new direction in their lives.

When we are born again, we receive a new heart. Old things pass away, all things become new. We now desire God himself and the things of God. Romans 12:2 tells us not to conform to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind so that we can know the good perfect and acceptable will of God. There is a need to be changed to become more and more like Christ in order that we can know God’s mind, and also to know His heart.

God bless,

Steve and Anita

Searching For The Body

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Mark 5 (New King James)

36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 37 And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. 38 Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. 39 When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.”

40 And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. 41 Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement. 43 But He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat.

John 11 (New King James)

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”

When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”

a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

Luke 24

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them,[a] came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly[b] perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen!

Have you ever noticed how many bodies are spoken of in the New Testament?

There is of course the literal body of Christ. We know that Jesus’ body was laid in a tomb, but on the third day, when Mary and the others went to the garden, the Angel asked why they look for the living among the dead. It must have been a wonderful and joyful shock to know that He whom they loved and had mourned for was now alive.

Then there is the body of Christ which is the body of believers both past present and future. We who believe, love and obey the Lord Jesus Christ are the temples of His Holy Spirit, and belong to Him. We are the ones Paul mentioned when he talked about each of us being members of one another (Romans 12), and that no member of the body can say to another ‘we have no need of you’. (1 Corinthians 12).

In both cases, the body of Jesus is a living and breathing being. It is not dead. The Spirit of God dwells in each believer and causes his once dead spirit to become alive to the mind of Christ, to the will of the Father and to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

There are of course other bodies.

The bodies of Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus.

It’s really interesting that both in the case of Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus, Jesus mentioned that these were not bodies, but they were people who were merely asleep. Nobody believed Him of course. They laughed at him in the case of Jairus’ daughter. But Jesus knew what he was talking about. A sleeper is someone who is in fact still alive. They are unconscious to the world around them and will shortly wake up and once again be ‘alive’ to the world. Dead people and sleeping people have much in common bar one important distinction. Dead people do not wake up.

Spiritually speaking, the dead are not ‘awake’ to the reality of God. ‘Let the dead bury the dead’ said Jesus to the young man who wanted to follow him. In other words, those who are not willing to follow Jesus, who do not come to Him and look to Him for salvation are dead to the kingdom of God. We who are alive in our spirits are no longer dead. So, those who believe in Jesus, those like the woman with the issue of blood, Jairus and his daughter, Mary, Martha and Lazarus do not die, they merely sleep. Paul also referred to those believers who sleep in 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians.

Interestingly, in both the case of Jairus and Lazarus, Jesus delayed his coming. He saw the faith of those who asked him to heal, but he knew that in both cases it was God’s will that instead of a healing there should be a raising of the body to the glory of God. Many didn’t believe that he could raise a dead body. There were not just cautions from people who cared about Him, “Lord he has been dead four days”, but there was mocking laughter from those who thought Jesus was a bit loopy. Jesus answer to the mocking was to ‘put them all outside”. He removed the mockers and spoke to the family. This was their home. This was their daughter and he spoke with compassion and concern. After he raised their daughter to life, he told them to feed her. I think this is also significant. A body which has recently died and then resurrected needs nourishment and care in order to continue living. Jesus did not raise this little girl to see her fail from lack of food. The parents were probably so overjoyed that they forgot about the practical things. She had probably not eaten for days due to the sickness, and now here she was pulsing with new life, and ready to partake of the energy and goodness which sustenance gives us.

I find it really poignant that in this chapter, Jesus heals a woman with a flow of blood and who has a deep faith that even touching his garment will heal her. She had life flowing from her, for life is in the blood, yet her faith moved her to seek out Jesus, even after he had been summoned by somebody else for the healing of someone probably much more severely affected. This lady didn’t want to draw attention to herself, probably because she would have been unclean and she didn’t want Jesus to have to touch her and thereby become unclean himself. What she didn’t know was that Jesus would not have been unclean from touching her and it was her faith which drew power from Him in order that she should be healed. This is a beautiful picture of weakness and impoverishment from illness which is wonderfully healed by Jesus without even his conscious partaking in it. It was her faith which made her whole.

Later, He looks for faith from Jairus’ family in order that he might be able to raise their daughter from the dead. In my opinion faith is sorely needed in the church today.

The church in this country is sick and dying. It has an issue of blood. It is not only weakened by this flow of life, but it is unclean because of this flow, and it needs to come to Jesus in faith and be healed. Like the Jairus family, the church also needs to be regenerated.

We have been searching for the body of Christ for some time. He was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit. He now sits at the throne of the Father, but his body, we, the sheep of His pasture, are all of us going our own way. We not only need to return to the lover of our souls and the good shepherd, but we need his resurrection power to return us to the place of true and genuine commitment to each other and to the ministry of the Holy Spirit through each and every one of us, that’s men women and children, in and through us.

The women of the body need to step out in their Spirit giftings. They need to know they are accepted as equals by their brothers, so that they may be able to preach the gospel, share what God has given them with the rest of the body and not tethered to the traditions of men and religion and forbidden with sour and bitter remonstrations not to preach or teach because Jesus doesn’t allow it.

Since when does Jesus not allow his sisters in the Lord to walk in the Spirit, to hear the voice of God and to speak the word which they hear in their hearts? If those words happen to be words of encouragement, prophecy, wisdom, teaching or edification, then such is the will of the Holy Spirit and he should not be blocked, or He will be offended. If a woman has a heart for the body of a carer and a helper, should she be stopped because of her sex and made to sit in the pews and wait while another more acceptable, male, member of the body do the ministering? None of this even makes sense!!

No, the body of Christ is less than what it is meant to be. Mainly because of the headstrong stubborn and wicked hearts of human beings who prefer to remain bound in their own doctrines and religious traditions. We are all one in Christ!!! The body is all around us, yet she is ill and needs to be not only healed, but risen from the dead!

Why Everybody Hates You

 

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John 7:7

The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil.

John 15:18

If the world hates you, you know it hated me before it hated you.

John 15:19

If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 17:14

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

1 John 3:13

Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.

1 John 2:15

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 3:14

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.

For the last twelve years or so, Steve and I have spent long hours talking and making sense of the world we entered after leaving the cult.  The world has changed markedly and continues to do so at a rate of knots.  But even more disturbing is the fact that the church has also changed.  We understood that we came out of a place which was an exception to the rule.  Once we wrapped our minds around the concept of the term ‘cult’, we expected to find different behaviour in other churches.  We have been deeply concerned  to find that in fact, much of the behaviour we saw in the cult is being replicated in other Christian organisations; churches and schools.
We were used to being treated badly by cult leaders, but we were not expecting to encounter abusive behaviour from what might be termed ‘ordinary Christians’.  What we discovered was that our cult experience was the thin end of the wedge.  In fact, as we went back over our histories, two separate and disconnected paths, we realised that we had both experienced really horrible behaviour from church people most of our lives.
Why was this?  Were we at fault?  Or were we just unfortunate enough to have been the target of a lot of badly behaved Christians?  Was our experience unique? I don’t think so. In the last twelve years we have done a lot of research and found that large numbers of Christians are leaving the church and not for the reasons that the so called researchers, like George Barna, have suggested. More often the stated reason for leaving churches is because the gospel is no longer being preached.  Genuine brothers and sisters in the Lord are offended with the false gospels, the false teachers, and the false prophets who arise in their midst.  They are faced with the choice of attempting to change the church or leaving.  It seems many, even after years of trying to get the leaders to see sense, have simply given up and looked for another place to fellowship. What they are finding is that there are very few churches now which appear to preach the gospel. If the gospel is not being preached, people sitting in the pews are not getting saved.  We heard the testimony of one man who sat in David Wilkerson’s Times Square Church and said that it was the first time he had ever heard the gospel in 20 years of being a Christian.  It was then that he actually became born again.  This is not an isolated example.
On this note, one preacher we have found to be the epitome of a good solid bible teacher is a man called Charles Lawson.  He is a Baptist pastor in Knoxville Tennessee.  He is what you might call an ‘old time pastor’, but he has done his research and is willing to discuss things from the pulpit that most pastors will not.  He talks about end times, the rapture of the church, he talks about the one world government and the occult.  He is filled with the Spirit and is a genuine brother in the Lord.  We delight in listening to his messages because for 12 years we have looked to find something similar in our country and have failed.  He is surely not the only pastor who preaches the gospel, but he is one we have spent a lot of time listening to.
line breakGood teachers aside, I believe there are two issues intertwined in this matter.  On the one hand  you have the hatred of the world for genuine believers, and on the other hand you have people who identify as Christians but are in fact not genuine believers because they have not been transformed. They have either come into the church on ‘another gospel’ or they have not been born again. So they are in fact still ‘in the world’ despite the fact that they believe in God.  Now bear with me, this is not about being accusatory, it is about observing and recognising the false and discerning the true.
Peruse the above verses.  You will find that Jesus made it abundantly clear that the world hated Him.   The world hated Him because the world is not of God.  Since born again Christians are of God, then it follows that the world is going to hate you. This is not a maybe.  Jesus was not saying ‘if’.  This is a rule of thumb.  The apostle John also reminds his readers that it should not be a surprise if the world hates you.  Because you are of God.
If the above is true then why am I seeing a whole lot of love for Jesus from the world.  And why is there such a conflation of world and church now in so many denominations. Everybody from Hollywood to the White House are saying that they are Christians.  And its not just happening in America.  I live in Australia and for the longest time our Prime Ministers made a big deal of being church going folk.  The Queen goes to church and is the head of the Church of England.  Are they all born again Christians? No.  No they are not. How do we know this? Because the world loves them, the world embraces them and they are not suffering persecution. And of course, their behaviour shows they are not.
I think what is happening here is that they are worshipping another Jesus.  The Jesus that they worship has a different source, the world.  The Jesus who walked the earth two thousand years ago and died on the cross, that Jesus was hated by everybody. Nobody wanted that Jesus to rule over them. Has the world suddenly changed since then?  No, interestingly, just as God doesn’t change, evil doesn’t change.
I think a lot of Christians assume that just because other Christians believe in ‘God’ that we are all worshipping the same God.  Not true.  There are many ‘Christ’s out there, and Jesus said that this would happen in the last days. But there are also many who are sitting in church believing they are brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus Christ, when in fact they have not actually even met Him.  They have not had a true conversion experience.  They might have been experiencing some kind of ‘spiritual’ experience, which it appears is a common thing even amongst pagan tribes.  We westerners tend to believe only in science and rational thought.  This is all well and good until you realise that much of what passes as science is rooted in pagan religion.  We have been fooled into thinking that there is no such thing as supernatural beings or supernatural powers.  Yet the Bible makes it clear that Satan is real, demons are real, angels are real, and they are constantly around us despite the fact that we cannot see or hear them.  Our religion has been influenced by such movements as the reformation – which in fact was simply a version of Catholicism and not true biblical Christianity (although it contained elements of it)  – and the charismatic/Pentecostal movements which were founded on various supernatural occurrences during so called ‘revivals’ over the last couple of hundred years. Many of those supernatural experiences were not of the Holy Spirit but were demonic in origin, and these experiences and the doctrines which support them have influenced our teaching and our expectations as believers.
We believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are not cessationists.  We have prayed for and seen healings, miracles, baptisms in the Spirit etc.  But what we are looking for is transformation.  We need to see changed lives which are led by and bear fruit from the Holy Spirit.  That fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. We tend to see the opposite in many Christians, or sometimes fake fruit.  Let’s look at that.
True Fruit                                                                          Fake Fruit
Love                                                                                   Affection
Joy                                                                                      High Spirits or Loudness
Peace                                                                                 Numbness
Patience                                                                            Inclusion
Goodness                                                                          Doing the right thing
Kindness                                                                           Tolerance
Gentleness                                                                        Psychology
Faithfulness                                                                      Prejudice
Self Control                                                                       Legalism
Christians in Western countries tend to believe that things should be a certain way.  We expect that Christians should act a certain way, generally according to the denomination we belong to.  Reformed churches behave this way, Pentecostal churches behave that way, Baptists do this, Presbyterians do that and so on.  What we have not really done is read our bibles, take note of what constitutes a changed life, the life of Christ within us, the life empowered by and filled with the Spirit of Christ.  We do not measure ourselves against scripture, we measure ourselves against the latest self-help book or teacher, not realising that these people are often not born again either.
A true born again Christian loves other true born again Christians.  You know when you have met somebody who is truly a new creation, you can see it in their eyes, the Spirit within you witness to the Spirit in the other person.  There is a unity which exists which does not need outward expression or conformity to a set of denominational rules or a set of rules which says ‘this is what a genuine bible believing Christian does’.  If the Spirit of him who raised Christ Jesus from the dead dwells within  you, then He who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies.  That same Spirit will empower you and that same Spirit will lead you and guide you.
Now obviously, Christians can be carnal.
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? … (I Corinthians 3)
 When Paul says carnal he is referring to immature Christians who are still spending most of their time walking in the flesh and therefore acting like ordinary men, unbelievers in the world.  We have obviously met a number of these.  The sort of behaviour though that we have experienced is more along the lines of people who don’t change at all over time.  They are not carnal sometimes and spiritual other times.  They really don’t have any Christian characteristics at all.  They are simply religious.
What we have to come to terms with in this so called post-modern society is that there is no longer a ‘church’ denomination which contains a bunch of born again believers.  True believers are now scattered.  Has it been this way from the beginning?  It is possible that this is so.  If true believers are salt and light then we cannot all stand in one clump, how can we salt the earth if we are sitting in one bunch every Sunday or weekday.  It is not possible for us to have a savoury effect.  Have you ever over-salted a soup or stew?  I have.  You can’t ‘unsalt’ it, you have to throw it out, you can’t eat it.  Likewise, we as believers are meant to be spread throughout the world and the so called ‘church’ on the earth.  We can come together to encourage each other, but I am starting to see that this coming together is going to get harder and harder, and we must find each other through other means than the local church organisation.  The church has now become like the world and the world like the church.  There is no longer any delineation, and the true believers are going underground.  Maybe it was always going to be this way at the end.
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We should no longer be surprised when we are hated both by the world AND others who identify as Christians.  IF the Holy Spirit is in you and not in the other so called Christians, you will be treated by them as you are by the world, because they are actually of the world.  Scripture tells us that there were believers in Paul’s day who turned away because of their love of the world; Demas (2 Timothy 4:10) was one of them.  We are told that if we are friends of the world we cannot be friends of God. (James 4:4).
The conclusion of the matter for us is that those who abused us and refused to change were not Christians to start with as they a) had no love for the brethren and b) were not transformed and c)did not have the fruit of the Spirit.  They were of the world and so hated us.  This goes for every other Christian we have not been able to communicate with or has treated us with disdain.  This is the only explanation that is viable.  Genuine believers may have bad days, or have some struggles with sin, but they do not habitually treat others with rudeness or disrespect.  Nor do I know anyone, who does not have a character disorder, even in the world, who would treat a perfect stranger with rudeness or disrespect.  But people who you know who habitually act coldly and arrogantly towards you yet claim to be believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ are not the genuine article.
It is in fact a huge relief for me to finally allow this truth to embrace my heart.  I do not have to feel bad that there are those out there who claim to be Christian who do not love me, despite the fact that I have striven to attain that love over the course of many years.  These ones cannot love, they do not have the love of God in them.
Only true believers can love true believers.
Only the world hates true believers.
And never the twain shall meet.