Spiritual Hostage Syndrome

I was given the honor of being featured in an interview with Bob Greaves, also known as The Unconventional Pastor. He is a former IFB pastor through the camp of BJU and I am a former member of an IFB church through the camp of Hyles. Bob and I have developed a sweet friendship over the past couple of years and he has been an incredible encouragement to me. In the following interview I spoke of a paper I wrote titled, “Spiritual Hostage Syndrome” and how it affects the mind, body, and soul. The paper is available to view here. If you have any questions about the paper or the interview please leave a comment below.

SisterLisa

Related Articles:

Is the IFB a Cult?

IFB Cult Survivors

When Your Former Church Makes Headlines

I’m So Sorry

Do you ever wonder what it would have been like to have been a Native when the ‘white man’ came? Imagine being a young Native girl washing laundry in the creek when the ‘white man’ comes through the forest with a gun to shoot you while calling you ‘savages’. Can you imagine being an African boy who came over on a boat without his family to be a slave to a ‘white man’ only to grow up being beaten and called n*gger? The ‘white man’ sure has created themselves an awful path of destruction, even the destruction of their own congregation. It has been a long held tradition in Christianity that women are seen as a lower class and they have no authority (unless it’s in the church nursery). There were days when the pastors would burn women of their congregation if they were suspected to be witches, which they weren’t.

There’s absolutely no excuse for it.

coast by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

Oh but you say that Christian men have come a long way and no longer kill Natives, enslave Africans, or burn women, but they do still lord over them as if they have ultimate authority. This is in America and it is being reported that women are being burned as witches in other countries. I suspect it has a lot to do with the literal teachings of the Old Testament by American missionaries. I’m not accusing those missionaries of killing women, but they do preach to naive people who lack the ability to study the bible for themselves and know how much humanity has evolved and matured over here in the West. Although Christians don’t kill..oh wait…yes they do..and cover it up…anyway, racism and patriarchy are very much alive in this nation. As is abuse in many Christian homes. I can’t help but to wonder if the abuse rate is down in Charismatic Christian homes, because they value the women as equal. I don’t know, I haven’t conducted the research. But this isn’t the point of this article.

What I want to get at is the history of groups of people who, through their growth, increased education, and spiritual maturity have made public apologies for the actions of their ancestors.

So to all those who have been beaten, lost loved ones, been shunned and shoved aside, and denied equality in this global community.. I, a Christian, do hereby give full apology for the actions of my ancestors. As for the current Christians who keep up this atrocity, let me say this; they are immature, uneducated, and spiritually handicapped. Just little babies who haven’t cut their teeth yet. I am still sorry that so many are suffering from the abuse that comes from their hands and their unruly tongues. They don’t represent Christ.

The GLBT community should not have to live in fear of having a commitment ceremony and celebration at a public location, because some immature Christians might come along and scream, spit, and picket their marital event.

The Pagan community should not have to live in fear of building a public spiritual community center for those cold or hot days when the park is inaccessible, because some rude and unruly Christians might come along and throw rocks at them or follow them home to vandalize their homes.

Women should not have to be afraid to speak the prophetic words from the Lord, because some Christian men (and some women) would rebuke them and call them witches. And even if they are witches, if their words are prophetic you had better listen. Don’t forget the witch at Endor was able to conjure up a Samuel the prophet who ended up rebuking King Saul.

They shouldn’t have to be afraid these things would happen, but the fact of the matter is these things DO still happen in America. Can I let you in on a little secret they don’t want you to know?

You are free! Christ does NOT hold you to the letter of the law. Jesus said the fulfillment of the law is to love. Yes, that’s it. No religious hoops to jump through at all. Want to know another secret they will hate for you to know?

His power is within you and you have every right to rebuke a self righteous abusive Christian, in Jesus’ name even.

So while I wanted to express my sorrow for what my ancestors have done, I wanted to be sure to encourage you and equip you with truth to empower you to no longer be afraid. They’re the ones who are deeply afraid. Much love to you all. Enjoy walking free.

Sisterlisa

Biblical argument for Gays

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Is it really a ‘Christian’ legal agency? Is the pastor a true minister of the Kingdom?

I’ve noticed this term, ‘Christian’, has been debated a lot over the last few years. How does one describe what and who a Christian is?  Are they pastors of the true Kingdom, or simply false prophets setting up their own puny man made counterfeits? Do they lead the children of God to Jesus or do they lead them to the slaughter? Do they defend the true Church or are they only interested in their building that they call a ‘church’? The answer will depend on who you ask. Some would say a Christian is an abusive liar who cares only about their institutions than they do about the people, while others would say a Christian is one who cares more about the people than they do an institution. There are many institutions with clergy who claim to be advocates for those wounded by the world, but when one of their own staff members molests a child or embezzles tens of thousands of dollars, they rush to law organizations (who claim to be Christian) and get help to cover their tracks and offer no support to the victims. The victims are manipulated into silence.

So lets take a look at scripture and ask ourselves….what did Jesus do?

  • When the religious leaders were profiting off the people by turning the temple into a den of thieves, Jesus overthrew the tables and proclaimed that HIS temple shall be a house of prayer.
  • When the religious leaders condemned ‘sinners’and dragged them into the city square to stone them Jesus said, “he who is without sin cast the first stone”.
  • When the religious leaders threatened the death penalty and a shameful burning in the garbage dump, Gehenna, Jesus said, “oh ye hypocrites! You clean the outside of your vessel, but inside you are full of dead mens bones.”
  • When the pastors were misusing the temple tithes for themselves instead of providing for the widows, fatherless, and the poor God said, “you have robbed me, in tithes and offerings”

In the end, just as Jesus was saying “It is Finished” he declared the war to be over. Within that generation the temple was destroyed and the people were free to leave.

Somewhere along the way, religious leaders have set up more abusive organizations where modern day pharisees care more about their government sanctioned religious organizations than they do the victims who suffer abuse at their hands. They even have their own pharisee law brotherhood that will quickly come to the aid of the criminal and his organization to fight against the victim. Instead of tossing victims into Gehenna, they throw them under the church bus and run them right over.

From what I see in scripture, Jesus never defended the pharisees when the victims cried out for deliverance.

  1. God did not rebuke the Hebrews for crying out to him for freedom from Egypt.
  2. Jesus did not side with those who sought to kill him and his followers…he died in their place.
  3. Jesus sure seems to think highly of his children and has shown many times throughout the history of the bible that he stands for the victims.

We are all children of the Most High God, some just choose another path that leads to destruction. Those who walk a destructive path and who force others into slavery, bondage, abuse, and death are not representing Christ our Lord. They represent antichrist!

Jesus said back then that there were many in their world at the time. How much more, with the high population, we have in the world!

Yet, do not despair. True ministers side with the victims. There’s a time to minister to the criminal, but not while the victim is being further victimized and not until the criminal is brought to proper justice, or rather not by the same minister!

When a ‘pastor’ sees abuse in his organization and he chooses to protect the organization, he must also side with the abuser. If he doesn’t, the victim can win any court case he/she decides to go through against the organization, the leader, and the accused. And if the congregation is more concerned about the organization than their own fellow brothers and sisters who are being victimized, then you are in a den of wolves.

If a ‘pastor’ chooses a pharisee type of organization to save his ‘ministry’, protect the abuser, and silence the victim, then run out of that church as fast as your feet can carry you. Contact a lawyer and ask for assistance in getting your name OFF that organization’s roll. You are not safe there.

Why would anyone want to join forces with the work of evil that opposes helping victims?

An organization’s leader can not help both parties since it is a conflict of interest. So why does the congregation allow this?

Victims, cut off all ties you have to the organization and get help. A den of wolves is not going to help you get justice, they will either silence you, blame you, or shun you out. They are NOT your advocates.

I have seen first hand how a so called Christian legal assistance organization runs to the rescue. They rescue the institution, not the victims. Their job is to defend the organization and in turn they must defend the accused. A real Christian will not take such a court case unless they can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the accused is totally innocent. But this is RARELY the case. Instead, a real Christian will side with the victims and help them flee.

It grieves me deeply that so called legal agencies will give the same horrid advice to churches and clergy all over the country while leaving a path of destruction and bleeding sheep all over the land. They’re like poachers who slaughter to get what they want then discard their bodies, as if to dump them into Gehenna, without any care for their souls. These are NOT Christians, they are pharisees who attempt to murder the soul and bully the lambs into total submission to be further victimized.

gehenna by joeperrott, on Pix-O-Sphere
photo credit Joe

Jesus has set you totally free! Run out of there and don’t look back. He is your anchor in the storm, The Great Shepherd when the wolves surround us, the Savior of our souls! He is on your side! We are joint heirs of the Kingdom of God and Jesus said the kingdom is WITHIN you! The modern pharisees close off the kingdom and create a space that they claim is the kingdom, but it’s a facade. It’s bondage to control you.

The apostles came to spread the message of reconciliation, God reconciled us to himself through Christ! You are free and joint heirs. A joint heir does not join a puny man made kingdom. They enjoy the Kingdom of God and it’s not found in an institution. It’s outside the institution. Remember Caleb and how he courageously went into the land and saw the milk and honey? The Kingdom is already with you..the real Land of milk and honey! The calm fields to graze in next to the river of life is already yours!

Don’t remain in the antichrist kingdom any longer. Go roam free and be safe by HIS side. Many of us have left and walk with our Great Shepherd in the safety of his true fold. To escape a den is not difficult, but it does have pain in doing so. Like a woman in travail who is at her most pressured time, but the new birth coming will fade away the pain you experienced. The new life far outweighs that of the travail in getting there.

Blue Sky Reflecting on Stream by timothybyrne, on Pix-O-Sphere
photo credit Tim

Sisterlisa…your fellow freedom fighter

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What is an Advocate?

There are a lot of different types of responses any time we see a travesty in the church community. An ‘explosion’ occurs and people either scatter, get frozen by shock, some get angry, some cry, and some start fighting immediately. It’s very important that we try to remain balanced and solid in our journey so we don’t put ourselves in a vulnerable position of being victimized again and again.

Antique Daisy by kimberlyeddy, on Pix-O-Sphere

When people leave a toxic church environment they often don’t know who they can trust and go to for assistance. When they are taught for many years that anyone outside the denomination is ‘not right with God’ or is ‘evil’, then they end up walking into another toxic environment of the same denomination or even a similar one. We need to be wise not to blindly trust a pastor just because of his denominational affiliation.

The best thing a victim can do is go to the police or to a professional licensed counselor.

Some communities have advocacy centers where you can share your story and be given resources to assist you. If you’re looking for an advocate, be sure you know what a real advocate is and the standards they operate under.

Many people who have been wounded and have found their voice to speak up most certainly can be seen as an advocate, but be sure you understand what a real functioning ethical Advocate is.

A genuine Advocate is one who has an official status of advocacy from a legitimate advocacy program. They operate under the leadership of a team of people who hold them accountable to adhering to the Code and Ethics of the Victim Advocate Providers.

Since the government doesn’t normally touch a spiritual abuse situation then finding a spiritual abuse advocate can be difficult. There is great concern that spiritual abuse victims will leave an unaccredited (abusive) ‘counseling’ pastor/church/school/college and walk right into another illegitimate ‘advocacy’ group. There certainly are some supportive online forums where you can find yourself in the midst of other victims/survivors and they can be helpful, but use caution! It’s important to be very wise when looking for help when leaving a cult.

I have spent several years researching and testing out connections with an assortment of counseling centers and support groups to be sure I could recommend safe places for people to go to. Spiritual Abuse Awareness is on the rise and there are a few places I will recommend at the closing of this article.

Many times, victims are hesitant on selecting a counselor out of fear the counselor will try to convert them to atheism or impose their own beliefs onto them. A good Spiritual Abuse Advocate or counselor will never impose their beliefs on a client. There have been some ‘Christian counselors’ who have done more harm to a victim than good and these victims end up in a worse position than before. It’s very important to be sure you see a counselor that is licensed and who has experience leading people to healing and freedom. A client should be able to walk away from their treatment with courage and wisdom to recognize abuse and avoid it.

Spiritual Abuse Advocacy is a very important need for the faith community and needs to be provided not only to Christians, but also to those who are not comfortable being a Christian anymore. There are victims in all areas of life from atheism, paganism, and even gang tyranny. Many times these folks were victimized by religious centers and fled to other areas for help. A group of people who believe in a common belief do not necessarily mean they are abusive. Just because someone is an atheist, doesn’t make them haters of Christians. Likewise, if someone is pagan it doesn’t mean they are automatically abusive. Christians don’t like to be accused with a broad brush and dislike being lumped in with highly abusive toxic cult groups, so we need to understand that others don’t like to be broad brushed either. Abuse happens everywhere and victims need to know they have ethical and professional advocates.

Sometimes churches have spiritual abuse recovery groups and while I think their hearts are in the right place, it’s very important that they be educated and confirmed as ethical Victim Assistant Providers. If they aren’t and would like to be then I’ll be sharing information at the close of this article.

There’s a camaraderie among victims/survivors of abuse. It’s comforting to know they aren’t alone. However, I strongly advise that any group that is lead by someone wanting to be an advocate, that they get the necessary education and training to be able to professionally moderate such groups. They should provide the necessary documentation and have it posted publicly. There should be a checks and balances way for victims to plead to someone higher up in case any inappropriateness occurs. If the leadership has no one higher you can go to, then use caution in trusting them. You can find additional helps and resources at the following agencies:

Victim’s Bill of Rights (US Government site)

Office of Justice Programs (US Government site)

Resource Library for Victims of Crime (US Government supported Faith based)

National Crime Victims Law Institute

National Center for Victims of Crime

**Office for Victims of Crime (free online training)

Faith Based Resources

Wellspring Retreat Center

Spiritual Abuse Awareness

G.R.A.C.E.

Coast Recovery Services (grassroots in progress, 20 years experience in drug/alcohol addiction and spiritual abuse)

Blogs

Under Much Grace

Quivering Daughters

Eric Pazdziora

Serena Woods, Grace is for Sinners

Films

Paradise Recovered

The Elizabeth Smart Story

The Shunning

Lord, Save us from your followers

Books

Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse

Soul Repair

Quivering Daughters

Feel free to comment below (anonymous is fine) with resources that have been helpful to you.

Be safe in your journey to freedom and healing. 

**If you’re interested in becoming a Spiritual Abuse Advocate (SAA) you can contact me through the Coast Recovery Services FB page and we’ll keep you updated on the launch of our SAA program. Our staff is comprised of professionals in the field of Addiction/Recovery. Among our certifications are Certified Drug and Alcohol & Addictions Counselor, Registered Addiction Specialist, Certified Marriage and Family Counseling, Certified PTSD, Masters of Divinity, FBI fingerprinted and approved, and 20 years of ministry experience including prison ministry, church ministry, and mission ministry.

Sisterlisa

 

 

Jack Schaap Used Jack Hyles’ Approach to Church, Could be Communism

There are plenty of blogs out there where you can find an array of angry articles and hostile comment sections due to the recent devastation involving Jack Schaap and the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church movement. Plenty of folks are coming out of the woodwork, telling their stories on Facebook and on their own blogs. Most of the stories I have seen focus on First Baptist Church of Hammond specifically, but let’s not forget that there are many IFB churches where these same things are happening. There are wounded people all over the world, because of the abusive system that has been taught in IFB colleges for years!

How does something like this happen in so many churches in the same movement? Do not think you are alone in this kind of chaos, many church denominations suffer from abuse. There is a lot to take into consideration in diagnosing the root of the problem, but you can start with investigating the type of church governance that Hyles taught for so many years, of which Jack Schaap carried the torch for. I have Jack Hyle’s book, ‘Hyles Church Manual’ and I have to say that this book is full of reasons why this toxicity has continued for so long. The pattern of church governance throughout this book is accompanied by narcissistic mind control techniques. In my opinion, Jack Hyles suffered from mental illness yet was intelligent enough to create a religious saga that closely resembles a high profile soap opera.

Many will cry out, “Don’t use a broad brush to paint all IFB churches as cults“, but if they learned their form of ‘church’ from the Jack Hyles’ inheritance of theology and church governance, then it is highly likely that abuse will happen in their churches and they will use the same methods Jack Hyles used when abuse happened in his church. If you speak to as many former IFB members as I have you will see that hundreds of IFB pastors have dealt with abuse in the exact same way. If there are any IFB churches that sincerely haven’t had ANY abuse happen and they’ve been around for a long time, then kudos to the pastors who found a different way to run a church.

People can disagree with doctrine, but when it comes to a system that has a faulty infrastructure to begin with, then they are destined to topple at some point. This doesn’t necessarily mean they will close their doors, but it does mean that leaders will fall and victimize someone (or many). The only way an IFB church will ever close it’s doors is if the people stop going and the community around them is made aware of how toxic it is. I’m not so sure this is likely to happen, as cults have been around for ages and are still operating today.

In the following image we see the mentality that Hyles had about hiring staff members:

“One hundred percent UNQUESTIONED loyalty… NEVER a reflection or a doubt….just a little criticism and he would have been ERASED from consideration.

In this image we see how he felt about staff salaries (er um, or rather how he felt about his own needs):

“If the pastor is more concerned with the staff member’s salaries than his own, they will be more concerned about HIS NEEDS than their own.”

Also, notice just above where he advises that you make it sound like his staff is highly qualified. In the page before this he instructed that all his secretaries were to be paid LESS than a business secretary. In my world we pay secretaries based on their level of intelligence, hard work, and experience. We do NOT pay them based on how high a level we can put them on a pedestal in the eyes of the people.

 

This book is so eerie as it is the same cookie cutter approach many IFB pastors still use today. This book is full of manipulation and SCARCELY a bible verse to back any of it up. The section on how to select deacons is laughable as it is exactly how deacons are chosen in many churches today. If even ONE deacon on the board does not vote a man in, then they are NOT considered. The deacon board is chosen before it ever goes to the church and the church thinks their vote actually counts, but it doesn’t. The pastor in Hyles’ approach has a system of how to find out if a member is loyal enough to join based on the doubt his current deacons have about those nominated. Remember he said, “Unquestionable loyalty, not a hint of critcism or doubt”.

Sadly, it sounds like Hyles could have gotten his method of running a church from a communist. Afterall, he did serve in World War II and maybe he experienced some PTSD or other kind of trauma that spawned this legacy of church abuse. Who knows? Many former IFB members testify that their churches felt communistic. Have you seen “Boy in the Striped Pajamas“? You may need to get it from Netflix and see it right away.

This book is riddled with scenarios that made me gasp from one page to the next and reminded me that not only do many IFB churches create clones, but the pastors themselves are clones of what is described in this book.

If a church is built on this unstable infrastructure then you will have many wide open doors for wolves to sneak in unaware. There are healthier ways of organizing a church, but do NOT use this Hyles method! The unquestioned loyalty methodology gives far too much room for the flesh to kick in and begin controlling every aspect of a congregation and very little, if not NO, accountability to protect yourselves. The traditional church governance and teaching methods of the IFB, as passed down from Jack Hyles, is toxic to the core. Any church leader or bible college that trains up new leaders to run a church like this man did is doing an incredible disservice to the Body of Christ.

Christ has made us FREE from the religious bondage that many are being suckered into. Even Hyles knew this when he dissociated from the Southern Baptist Convention. You too, are free to dissociate from toxic church environments and choose a congregation where you can heal and grow in faith without being placed into bondage.

Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Sisterlisa

Law or Grace for Jack Schaap?

It’s been a few days since the initial news of Jack Schaap’s termination as pastor was announced. I’ve watched the Internet each day as more media picked up the story and as thousands of Cyber folks have hit their Facebook pages, Twitter (#JackSchaap), and blogs with the story. The comments I see run from totally passive to highly hostile. This entire situation is so deeply devastating and the shock waves are being felt worldwide.

I’ve tried to be objective and remain as balanced as possible between my motherly emotions and my logical perspective on this matter. I have considered that my own feelings as a former IFB cult member might make me a bit bias, but I honestly have tried hard to be objective. As a mom, I would want to embrace my child in the midst of her torment and yet sound the battle cry to send the troops to war against any and all who had part in this happening due to their complacency in confronting Jack Schaap long before this could have happened. My heart truly goes out to the girl and her family. When we left the IFB movement, we didn’t have this kind of scandal directly affecting anyone in our family and yet we suffered from the shunning, criticism, and lack of support in our decision to leave. I can’t imagine how much worse it is for this family.

Why I sympathize with Cindy Schaap:

As a wife, I also think about the Schaap family in particularly, Cindy Schaap. Many years ago, my husband and I faced some of our own personally tragedy as he chose to take the path of drug abuse. Many unwise decisions followed. It was horrible to be judged as a woman for the difficulties my husband faced. Many tried to get me to divorce my husband, but deep down I just couldn’t. I truly love him and couldn’t face the idea of divorcing. We did, however go through a separation. Everything we faced was incredibly difficult, but one of the most difficult was facing church folk each week.

There were a few select women who never judged me nor my husband. I owe a debt of gratitude to them for their patient and gentle love. While they loved us, they did not put their heads in the sand. They gave practical advice so we could face the reality of our situation. Walking by faith does not mean to ignore a problem in hopes that it works itself out. When we face tragedy we need to approach it sternly and take the necessary steps to work through the issue with practical solutions.

We weren’t church leaders at the time, but nonetheless the trial we stumbled through was extremely taxing and the judgement we did get from many, made the healing more difficult. Having people, I loved and admired, judging my husband lowered my admiration for them as spiritual leaders. We didn’t need judgement, we needed practical steps and spiritual partners who would be willing to walk through those steps with us.

Thankfully, we were able to do what was needed to get our lives back on track. We’ve been married for twenty years now and were able to find individuals who were supportive of us through all of our journey to healing. Having people love us and support us in changing our chaos into stability was key in the process of our repentance from a destructive lifestyle. This didn’t mean they condoned our past decisions, but rather they supported the new decisions. I had to do some things on my own such as going to court, talking to lawyers, updating the family on what was going on, etc. It was extremely hard to do those things alone, but it helped me to grow.

Looking back on everything helps me see Cindy’s situation in a different light. My heart groans for her tragedy. What she is facing is far worse than what we went through. Even typing this out, I have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes for her. Leaving a legalistic community, when a fall like this is the reason for it, must be such a lonely departure. Jack was a pastor of a well known mega church in their community. Cindy won’t be able to go anywhere without people knowing who she is. I pray the media leaves her alone.

While I am compassionate towards Cindy, I can say without hesitation that Jack has to answer for his foolishness. When my husband and I went through our difficulties, I never asked for God to let things go. I knew that having my husband be held accountable and to face his own foolishness head on was the best thing for him..the best thing for both of us. Jack needs to face the laws of the land and face whatever justice comes from this.

One thing that many people are saying is that God will hold Jack accountable. Part of this human world is that God ordained government to punish criminals and as such as we need to let the system do what they were ordained to do. The authorities are doing their job and we need to let them do that.

My perspective as a spiritual counselor:

As a spiritual counselor, I have to work between my motherly emotions and my spiritual calling. This is not easy to do, yet I do feel it’s an important spiritual exercise for any spiritual leader to take seriously. This is where victims usually get angry, because the blood of Jesus “shouldn’t let this go”. All of a sudden the “Once saved always saved” doctrine is doubted and flat out rejected. Angry people want Jack Schaap to either go to hell or be punished by the fullest extent of the law. Even at that, their anger won’t be satisfied.

What does that say about us if the thought of him going to hell doesn’t satisfy our anger? Do we easily forget about our own short comings? Do we forget to be thankful that our own condition of sin has been paid for through the death of Christ our Lord? Have we forsaken a grateful heart for the fact that we have received life through the conquering of the grave and the resurrected life of Christ?

May we take heed, lest we also fall.

If Jack Schaap, a premiere Independent Fundamental Baptist preacher, can fall then anyone can. Jack was raised in a strict fundamental religion that defined everything as black and white. Many rules were in place to insure that he would always live a ‘godly’ life. Yet, in the midst of all that Christian ‘perfection’, he still fell. You see, the Christian bubble of sterilization doesn’t work. Oh we can avoid drinking, drugs, and porn quite easily if that was all we had to avoid. However, this was not all those in the IFB movement have to avoid. They also have to avoid most television, contemporary Christian music, Christian stores outside of their own church bookstore, family members who don’t attend an IFB church, bathing suits, the ballet, the beach, movie theaters, magazines in the checkout stand aisle, girls who wear pants, and on and on the list goes. They have so much to worry about avoiding that all their mental and spiritual energy is being used up trying to avoid things that really don’t need that much attention. It’s not going to upset God if a woman fails to wear nylons to church or misses church on Sunday to go to a family reunion. It’s not going to upset God if a man hates wearing a suit and isn’t fond of door knocking. All the legalistic requirements to be acceptable in an IFB church is counterproductive to living the Kingdom life that Christ ushered into this New Covenant.

Christ came to shower us and cleanse us with his grace. If Jack had ever listened to what real grace is, then perhaps he would not have ended up where he is now. Nevertheless, there’s always a purpose for the fall of what people used to call ‘a great man’. Pharaoh was said to be a great leader too, but Moses came in and brought the message of deliverance. In order for people to be delivered, the leader who keeps them in bondage must fall. The Holy Spirit sends people to such leaders and demands freedom, but when the leaders keep refusing, when they keep insisting they are right in their own eyes, then eventually they will face the reality that God has intended for them. Sometimes a great fall is the beginning of an experience in humility and down to earth grace.

When Jack Schaap came to our former church:

It’s ironic that just a few short years ago, Schaap came to my former church and preached a message on this very topic. He preached on pride and humility and ironic as it sounds, his two messages confirmed for us that we needed to leave. Not that his messages were bad, in fact they were good. The messages he preached revealed to us that humility was not within the church we were at and in order to save our own family from destruction, we needed to leave. We actually sent word to Jack to ask for assistance, but he didn’t return our calls. It’s a good thing he didn’t. We were able to leave and get our girls out of the youth group before the second violation of a teen girl took place.

We left shortly after Jack’s visit to our former church and now that same church is in a second lawsuit due to two former staff men who violated teen girls. I’m eternally grateful that we got our teen girls out of there! I don’t feel that I owe Jack anything for that visit, I give all thanks to God alone. So the next thing I want to say is not from a heart of gratitude for Jack, but rather a heart of gratitude for the grace of God.

Get off the milk, because there’s meat to bite into:

This is a hard topic for many, especially someone new in their walk. Paul said that there was so much more he wanted to say, but the people weren’t ready to hear it. This intense topic and concept I’m about to share is not milk for a babe, it’s meat. If you’re not ready for this meat, it will choke you. If you’re not ready for meat, you will reject it. If you’re a victim of the IFB movement it will be difficult, but there is hope for justice and for grace. You see, justice and grace are not two opposing sides. Justice and grace work together to bring mercy. Justice is a balanced way to bring discipline to a person who needs it. It is meant to bring them to repentance as well as to genuine grace.

Humans are not required to give grace the way God gives it. If it were up to us, especially victims, we may not ever give mercy or grace. It’s not our obligation or responsibility to be as gracious as God is. I don’t want to place a burden on you that would be impossible to bear. We could never give grace the way Christ can, if it were possible he would not have needed to die.

When Christ came to die and resurrect, he brought reconciliation to God. Every man, woman, and child can boldly go to God without being afraid and know for certain they could receive grace. This is for the purpose of establishing a two way relationship with God. All of us have equal access to God, because of Christ. He is our mediator. So we preach the Gospel of reconciliation as Paul did. Both the perpetrator and the victim have equal access to God and equal grace in their relationships with Him. This does not mean that abusive people will not be held accountable in this lifetime. This does not mean the victims of this world won’t be affirmed. This spiritual reconciliation is a personal endeavor for individual relationships with God.

In this lifetime, we live in this human world with literal laws that we must honor. Christ said to obey the laws of the land and so we must. God ordained the government and so we must allow the authorities to do their work. Each Christian is called to stand for victims any time they are victimized. Jesus spoke of compassion for the Samaritan man, the women taken in adultery, and he prodigal son who was welcomed home. Many will ask where the grace is in our human relationships in regards to Jack and others who have violated people. To stand by a perpetrator as they face their music is not for everyone! A person of faith that is strong in both the spiritual realm and the physical realm can firmly walk alongside a man like Jack to be of support in them facing their consequences, but it does NOT mean such a person of faith is condoning what he did.

It takes a strong person who can hold them accountable while guiding them to understand what went wrong and how to find penance. It’s important to hold them firmly accountable, facing the reality of what they’ve done in order for them to grow and mature. If we, as Christians, can not give Jack Schaap room to be repentant then we have to face the idea that maybe we don’t really understand the Gospel. People who have been infected by the perverted ‘gospel’ that Jack preached are less likely to give him the room he needs. He taught for years that there is no room for sin. He boxed everyone in and now he has boxed himself into the same limited space with everyone else. Close quarters like that can be quite cramped. This is what happens when we try to live by the Law. The apostle Paul said that once the law came, sin revived. If we want a true revival of the power of Christ that brings repentance, grace, and humility then we need to be willing to live it out.

The government is involved and the FBI is very well aware of what mind control is and how it affects a congregation. Let them do their investigation. If you have any information, experiences, or otherwise that could be of assistance then call them directly. God will not punish you for doing so. I know that First Baptist Church has Atty. Gibbs and his son working on this case, but they are there to protection the institution of FBC. It is very different than a lawyer being there to protect individual victims. In order for them to protect the institution, they need to control information from leaving the congregation. Therefore, victims are not safe to give their information to them. This is a time when people need to decide if they want to protect a building licensed by a 501c3 or if they want help for victims. Victims need an outside advocate that can be purely in favor of assisting the victims and not be tainted by needing to protect the institution. In a high profile case like this, there is no doubt in my mind that people knew and didn’t do a darned thing. Penn State anyone? Tell your information directly to the police.

It’s a delicate matter to be concerned for both sides of this situation. As a minister, our utmost desire is to reconcile mankind to God in Christ. This means all mankind, even those who have been abusive. However, we also have a responsibility to victims and to make sure they are safe and protected. The apostle Paul had an issue with two men at one time and he said that he ‘gave them over to satan for their punishment’. There are times when we need to hand abusive people over to their own devices, allow them to suffer their consequences, so they can learn true remorse and repentance. A victim is not required to be a part of the perpetrator’s journey through his own personal self inflicted hell. Victims are free to walk away and have no contact. They are not required to let it go, to drop the charges, or to face their abuser with offers of forgiveness. Once the victim finds healing, they have the option to make those decisions, but they are not obligated to.

For people who feel torn between the two parties, I admonish them to side with the victim totally. For those who feel the strongest desire to support the perpetrator, then do so WISELY without condemning the victim and her supporters for what befalls the man now. There’s a lot of anger and hurt going on in the world due to this travesty. Some might say that if you weren’t a member of FBC then you shouldn’t worry about it. I strongly disagree. Jack Schaap has influenced IFB pastors and teens all over the world to further the anti-women dogma that infects congregations. Their methods of church governance morphed by the twisted scriptures creates a toxic environment where this kind of abuse thrives. The Christian community does not end at the doors of FBC. The Christian community is global and when one suffers, we all suffer.

We need to collectively put our feet down with how the IFB movement (and many other churches) create their institutions with toxic teachings where accountability is sorely lacking. Those who are leaders need to stand firm and proclaim from the rooftops that wolves have entered in, how they entered in, and how to get out! So while the government deals with this matter, we’ll continue to preach the true Gospel of reconciliation, protect victims, and teach others how to protect themselves.

Take the time needed to heal from the abuse you and your loved ones have suffered, don’t rush your grief. It doesn’t happen over night.

 Sisterlisa

*For encouragement in healing from fundamentalist abuse of girls and women, get Quivering Daughters by Hillary McFarland.

When Church Discipline Becomes Abusive

It’s not surprising that the growth of the Internet has given the global Church the power to voice their faith and concerns about the Christianity community. I’m not fond of labeling all churches within a movement as a cult, but there are times when cult tendencies become so widespread within a movement that people begin taking notice. I have posted before about some experiences I had in another movement, but what really caught my eye was how the same tactics are used in a variety of denominations.

Matthew Paul Turner courageously posted a piece about Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington that has the global Church deeply disturbed. It’s not the fact that he posted the testimony of one man that disturbs us, it’s the tactics used against this man he reports about, that is so disturbing.

I had quite a discussion with a friend last night who had also left the same environment I did. We discussed how much freedom we really have in Christ to gather, worship, and study as equals. When Peter offered to build Jesus a temple, his response was simple, “No.” Jesus’ plans were to build a new temple, in us. So why do so many Christians feel the need to build modern temples and call them churches? It’s the People who are the Church, not the buildings or programs. It certainly is within our freedom to create organized places to socialize together and develop a governance to keep the community center supported financially. However, what often happens in these kinds of community centers is deeply disturbing and the global Body is taking notice.

Many cry out, “This should not be happening in The Church!” It certainly is a heartbreaking situation when we come to love and trust a leader of such an establishment only to find accusations of alleged abuse and it’s extremely difficult to see the truth. We often tell teenagers that their love for each other has them blinded. It seems that this may be the case within the Body as well.

Does the entire Body of Christ have the authority to speak up about what happens in just one community center? Or is it a private matter for that local Body alone? Andie Redwine, Writer and Co-Producer of Paradise Recovered, has this to say;

“My position is that Mark Driscoll has a wide audience that transcends denomination. MPT gave Andrew a place to go to chat about what happened to him. The fact that we are all so moved by it means that the onus is on Driscoll to make a statement.” (MPT refers to Matthew Paul Turner)

She certainly has a point. This particular pastor has a much wider audience than just his local community of believers. When a pastor opens up to the public audience with videos, books, audios, public speaking, etc then he sure does open himself up to public outcry from the Body as a whole. Another thing to keep in mind is that Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington (not to be confused with the fascinating and gracious work of Rob Bell at Mars Hill Bible Church) has a seriously crafted membership that requires a disturbing amount of rules to live by that has many labeling as legalistic. Again, they do have the freedom to create their own governance, but the people have the freedom to not agree to it. Just because someone initially submits to it, doesn’t mean they are legally obligated to stay under such leadership. How much more reminding do we need that we live in America where we have the freedom of religion?

Regardless of how we all feel about this particular community, The Church is raising awareness of Spiritual Abuse. The government protects your freedom of religion, but you willingly submit to the church community of your choice. You have the freedom to walk away without suffering from harassment. Sadly, many congregations do not understand how to draw the line between church discipline and harassment. If you believe you are in danger of being harassed or stalked upon leaving a church community, don’t be afraid to call a lawyer and talk to a professional counselor.

Are you blogging about Spiritual Abuse in support of victims? If so, please comment with your link and I’ll add it to the list.

Matthew Paul Turner

Eric Pazdziora

David Hayward

Dr. Robert Cargill

Provender

Quivering Daughters

Michelle Pendergrass

Mike Fehlauer

Lisa Kerr

Matthew 5

 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
  
(Matthew 5:2-12 ESV)

~Sisterlisa

Choosing a Youth Group

*Disclaimer: Not all churches have had problems with youth pastors violating teens. All parents must use their own best judgment before entrusting your children to other adults.

Many times I have felt confident to allow my teens to be a part of youth groups. I assumed that a church would have good boundaries for their activities and that it would be safer than just dropping them off downtown on a Friday night. But lets be practical here. The church staff and volunteers at a youth group can be just as dangerous, if not more so, than any joe-shmoe downtown.

Have you googled “youth pastor arrested” lately? Do you know how many more youth pastors are guilty of violating a teen but just hasn’t hit the news yet? Many counties have an online public record where you can search for all cases involving a “Jane Doe” or “church” to see if there are any pending or even closed prior cases.

Many churches are now requiring their workers to be finger print approved by the FBI before they are given ANY amount of ‘authority’ or position in their churches. HOWEVER, this is not always the safest way to determine if your teens will be safe. Sometimes teens are violated, but the families are silenced and the perpetrator goes undetected.

Christians are not immune to making very, very, very, bad decisions. Churches who have FBI finger print approved workers can sometimes cover up a lot of garbage that the FBI will never know about.

What is the BEST way to protect your kids? Talk to them.

Talk to your teens about how to discern danger. Teach them how to be in a constant state of awareness of their surroundings. Let them know that they can talk to you without you going bonkers on them. Encourage them to follow their gut instinct.

No teen should ever be made to feel uncomfortable. Sure, it could be an over active imagination, but better safe than sorry.

Our teens need to know that we have their back! They should be 100% confident that we, as parents, are their advocates!

God forbid that a parent choose to protect the image of a youth pastor or church over the safety of their own child or the children of others.

A parent should take it upon themselves to ask the youth pastor and the youth pastor’s spouse lots of questions before trusting them with your kids. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If they are defensive at your inquiries then it’s probably not a good place for your teenagers.

Some questions to consider asking:

  • Are all your workers fingerprint approved by the FBI?
  • Has your church ever been under an investigation for child endangerment of any kind?
  • How do you handle a case when a teen confides in you that they have been violated or they suspect they are being stalked by another church member?
  • How do you handle bullying?
  • Are you aware of what spiritual abuse is and how does your church protect itself from this type of mental and emotional abuse?
  • Can I please have the names of all adults, including college age volunteers, who supervise the teen activities?
  • What is your church’s protocol if you discover the head pastor or head deacon is suspected of child abuse or sexual assault?

Any church worth going to , even occasionally, shouldn’t mind these kinds of questions.

When you get home, google all the names of the individuals. Also, look up all their names in your county online record system.

Consider attending some of the youth activities the first few times WITH your teens. Observe how the activities are led and how the teens are spoken to.

Arrive early every now and then and slip in the back, if you can, without being noticed.

Observe, observe, observe.

Don’t ever feel bad about being consistent in selecting a youth group for your teens. It is your responsibility as a parent to make the best and most informed decision possible. If you decide that their doctrine isn’t quite what you believe, be sure to talk to your teens about it at home. In my family, we are not as concerned about silly disagreements about some doctrines as we are about making sure they are safe. I will share more about how we handle disagreements about doctrines in another post, until then..you’re the parent, the youth pastor isn’t. Be wise.

Dual Citizenship

There is a powerful truth spoken of in the scriptures that seems to get tucked out of sight in order to force another issue into our minds that leads us to think God will continue to dangle us over a hot pit until we get things in our lives all worked out. There are perspectives that will tell you that it’s not by works, but by His grace that you are saved and that “once saved always saved” but they keep dangling you over the pit as if it matters. Seems like a contradiction to me. Then there’s another camp that says you can still end up in the pit of flames even if you do believe in Jesus. I can see why they think so, because Jesus said many would say they served him, but he does not know them. These conflicting perspectives puts people in a constant state of panic, fear, and doubt that God has them securely in His grasp. So maybe it’s time we sort all these matters out and try to find some balance and accountability.

I know the hell debate has spanned for centuries, but for the sake of this very powerful, yet often ignored topic, lets put hell aside for the moment. I don’t believe that the popular doctrine of hell is needed in order to believe in Jesus. There are other denominations that do not believe that hell is defined the same way and they still effectively preach Jesus. I believe that in order for us to be able to really begin to be discipled we need to be able to put our full trust in the redemptive finished work of the cross. Until we do, we will continually walk in doubt and fear and that is not the way of the Kingdom. Jesus wants us to be able to enjoy the blessings of living the Kingdom life as a Royal family together. Trusting that we are reconciled to God through the work of the Anointing is just the beginning of our abundant lives.

If we think that living the Kingdom life means we walk a tightrope over hell and can fall at any time, then that is not the Kingdom. There are no threats in the Kingdom of God and Jesus said the Kingdom is within you. So lets put our perspective on the fact that he completed his work of reconciliation so we can learn to navigate this earthly life and walk in the Kingdom at the same time.

There is a song that says “This world is not my home” and for some this gives them the sense of what is to come and while this is a great and wonderful thing, let us not forget that the meek inherit the earth. Jesus said his kingdom is not of this earth, yet he also said his kingdom would be here with us and God told Adam to take care of the earth. It’s a paradox.

We have dual citizenship.

We live on earth, inherit the earth, and reign in the Kingdom as a Royal Priesthood all at the same time. Knowing how to navigate this earthly life is found in walking in the Kingdom. Here is where I will introduce you to such a powerful truth that seems to get ignored so much of the time. The King reveals to us that when we live by the powerful principle of “reap what you sow”, we can effectively live within the bounds of our dual citizenship. You may also see the same concept in the golden rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. If we took this matter seriously, then we do not need the threat of hell to navigate in this life.

Living by the understanding that we will reap what we sow is a powerful teaching of personal accountability. Some in the camp of “once saved, always saved” have committed such atrocities in the Body with the deception that their actions won’t matter because they are “saved and can’t lose their salvation”. I have ministered alongside my husband in an addiction and recovery ministry for over a decade and I can tell you very clearly from personal experience that our decisions always matter. We have seen pastors commit horrible crimes against their congregations and cover it up because they think they can “rule” their church kingdoms as if they are gods. Their actions have infiltrated their churches and put the lives of their congregants in a literal hell on earth and they think they are above the law. This is a gross misrepresentation of the Kingdom. Jesus is always going to bat for the oppressed and abused. Through their deception, the wounded now feel as though they will not be avenged because their abusive clergy is “the Lord’s anointed” and “saved” and therefore will not suffer judgment for what they have done.

Let me assure you that is not the case. We live in the Kingdom that is governed by the principle of reap and sow. Many clergy in several denominations have covered for molesters only to later fall victim to becoming a molester themselves or their kids grew up to be molesters. Clergy in various denominations have been deceitful in manipulating people to give money to their ministry and misused those funds only to be stolen from later in life. Ministry “leaders” have manipulated and abused clients in their programs only to later reap destruction on their ministries as another in their ranks swindles them out of their own ministries. Why do these things happen? Do the actions of a parent come back to haunt them through the lives of their children? Some seem to think so, but my friend Laurie pointed this out to me..

Jeremiah prophesied about the days of the New Covenant (which Jesus instituted) that: “In those days they shall no longer say:

”The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. ‘But everyone shall die for his own sin. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.” (Jer. 31:29-30)

Thank God there is great hope for my children – the hope of the Gospel, which is the only hope for any of us.

My friend Lois says, “No…..we can only reap in ourselves what we have sown…they have to do their own sowing and reaping.”

Then my friend David says, “No way! But we’re gonna totally reap what we sow to them by our deeds. Again and always, the thing is… teaching by example.”

In the examples of abusive clergy that I gave above, we can see all this advice from my friends is valid. Now what happens when an abusive Christian seems to get away with what they’ve done, because they had a hot shot lawyer get them off the hook? God doesn’t miss a thing! God has given us the nation’s justice system, but it is not a perfect system and although we have it at our disposal, we can not rely on it the way we can rely on the Lord.

It may be that an abusive Christian is Christian in name only and not really living the Kingdom life. They might look the part and participate in all the religious activities, but not have the fruit of the Spirit and they allow their flesh to run their lives. This is an unfortunate thing and there are times when we do need to BE the Body and step in to assist in situations that require our intervention. But even in the cases where someone seems to be getting away with what they have done, the Lord sees it all and will deal with them in his own ways. They will not get off “scott free”.

We need to take this “reap and sow” principle to heart! No matter what you believe about hell, the Kingdom is not governed by the threat of hell, it is governed by Christ and he clearly says that we will reap what we sow. If you reap ‘a hell’ on someone’s life, be prepared that ‘a hell’ will be sown in yours at some point as well.

Sisterlisa


Biblical argument for Gays

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Patience With One Another

The ongoing Resurrected life is not without heart ache. We have never been given a guarantee that life would be without trauma, sadness, or grief. We will not be able to protect ourselves from being hurt and most of the time we are hurt the most by people we love. Maybe that is what makes betrayal so much harder to bear. Maybe that’s why it makes bitterness so much more difficult to heal from.

Perhaps this is why it hurts so deeply to become intimately involved in another church after being wounded so greatly in previous churches.

But heart ache doesn’t happen only in churches.

It happens among friends, neighbors, and even in our own families.

I had two short years to get to know my biological dad before he passed away. Most of it was filled with good times, laughter, and camping. We enjoyed being together. Then selfishness and immaturity crept in and overtook both of us. It didn’t end well. We parted ways and I moved to another state without telling him. I was that hurt. I packed my things and quietly moved away.

Six months later he died.

For many years I carried the heavy burden of guilt, remorse, and regret that I had parted ways so bitterly.

I was young, naive, and immature. I was a baby Christian who was wounded deeply…I was wounded deeply because I loved so deeply.

It took a long time for me to heal over that and I sit here in tears even now as I type this….19 years after his death.

I miss him terribly.

A friend of mine departed from her first husband out of fear for her life and for her children’s safety. Her husband held a gun to her and threatened to kill her.

She had to leave and couldn’t go back.

A friend of mine married young to a guy who pulled her into his drug addiction and didn’t treat her well. He abandoned her in another state with no where to go and no one to turn to. She filed for divorce.

Sometimes people make decisions that are incredibly difficult to make, but these decisions are needed in order to seek safety.

We never know why a person makes such decisions and we have no right whatsoever to demand that they go back to  place where they know they aren’t safe.

Sometimes people leave a church and may not want to tell you why.

Maybe they were molested. It could be that they know the pastor is having an affair and he threatened them to keep them silent. Perhaps they left because a teen guy was putting their daughter in compromising positions and his parents wouldn’t listen to her parent’s plea for help to keep them apart from each other.

How dare we tell a person to go back to church when we have no clue what they’ve been through.

I’m not going to accuse wounded people of being bitter. Even if I thought someone might be bitter, my first response is to be compassionate, not judgmental.

Healing takes time.

Can you force a dying rose bush to heal in one week?

Absolutely not!!

Can you condemn the rose bush, because it doesn’t produce a vibrant rose on your time table?

Wounded people need to be nurtured just like that rose bush needs to be nurtured.

And we need to be patient with that growth.

We’ve all been hurt and life will continue to push us into hurtful situations.

But we will grow from it.

We will heal from it.

daisy bud by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

And we can grow together through it.

Some days I might cry and scream, some days you might rage and sob.

Growing together means we grieve together, love together, and seek the Lord together.

There is no promise that we won’t be hurt again.

But there is a promise that we aren’t alone.

He never leaves us nor forsakes us.

He won’t give us more than we can bear.

Will we ever find another gathering of believers where we can grow in safety?

I hope so.

But I don’t think it will be without times of grieving.

This is how life is and it’s how we grow stronger.

Let’s be patient with others while they graze beside still waters with our Great Shepherd. Sometimes wandering in the wilderness is the where the shadow of the Almighty is.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (NIV)

SisterLisa

 Related Articles:

When Mothering Needs Healing

Mercy Triumphs Over Judgement 

This Miserable Christian Life