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Info Regarding Our Livestream Broadcasts

If you watch our Sunday morning class and worship service or our Wednesday 10AM Bible study livestreams, no doubt you will see (as we experienced this morning) freeze ups due to bad internet connections – or whatever. After a livestream we upload to youtube and to sermonaudio.com/crc and often those uploads are better than the Facebook livestream.

But we are also going to set up a second iphone camera to record (no internet use) the Bible study on Wednesdays in addition to the other camera that is livestreaming on Facebook. Then we will upload the recorded video to youtube and sermon audio. Long story short, if you have trouble with internet freeze ups on Facebook live, check out the uploaded video at the other two sites. We usually have them uploaded within a few hours after the broadcast.

Internet. Computers. Blessing and curse!

A Classic Abuser From the Old Testament

This passage of scripture is longer than I usually quote in a post, but it all hangs together as you will see as you read it. Here are these wicked enemies, the head honcho bearing the title of Rabshakeh, coming to Jerusalem to attack it. Godly King Hezekiah reigns in Judah and these evil ones want to turn the people against him and surrender. Hezekiah had effected far-reaching reform in Judah, destroying idolatry and purging wickedness from the nation.

As you read, you will recognize a number of classic abuser/revilier tactics that are probably quite familiar to most of you. I will just make a few comments below, and then leave it to you to comment on this wickedness yourself. Actually, I think I will just boldface the statements that jumped out at me and I will look forward to hearing your observations. The Rabshakeh, as you will see, talks just like every abuser does:

2Ki 18:17-37 And the king of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rab-saris, and the Rabshakeh with a great army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. When they arrived, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is on the highway to the Washer’s Field. (18) And when they called for the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder.

(19) And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? (20) Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? (21) Behold, you are trusting now in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him.

(22) But if you say to me, “We trust in the LORD our God,” is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, “You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem”?

(23) Come now, make a wager with my master the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. (24) How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master’s servants, when you trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?

(25) Moreover, is it without the LORD that I have come up against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, “Go up against this land and destroy it.”’

(26) Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah, and Joah, said to the Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it. Do not speak to us in the language of Judah within the hearing of the people who are on the wall.”

(27) But the Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and to drink their own urine?” (28) Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! (29) Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. (30) Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’

(31) Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, (32) until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live, and not die. And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, “The LORD will deliver us.”

(33) Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? (34) Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? (35) Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’”

(36) But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, “Do not answer him.” (37) Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.

How convoluted and wicked. How twisted and evil. Can you describe the lies the Rabshakeh is speaking? What is it that he is trying to accomplish?

Straining a Gnat to Swallow a Camel – Marriage “Laws” in Most Churches

We all know that the Lord instructs Christians to marry Christians –

1Co 7:39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.

I do not know any real Christian who does not care if they marry a Christian or non-Christian. Of course, we want a believing husband or wife.

But…

I want to point out some inconsistencies in most churches which should be glaring and obvious, but no one seems willing to admit it. Here it is:

  • Pastors and church leaders will typically insist that a Christian who is married to an abusive spouse remain married to their oppressor.
  • At the same time, these same pastors and church leaders will insist that a Christian only marry another Christian.

What, we may rightfully ask, is wrong with this picture? It is so convoluted that it is difficult to sort out. Let me begin perhaps with this:

There is widespread unbiblical teaching in local churches about who a Christian is. That is to say, people are being pronounced “Christian” who the bible very clearly teaches are not regenerate at all. Typically, all that is required is for a person to profess to be a Christian, to claim to “believe in Jesus,” and boom! He’s a brother in Christ and it is wrong to ever question his claim.

Consequently, even though a husband might habitually abuse his wife for decades, he is still going to be regarded as a Christian. After all, you know, “we are all sinners.” And further, because of this faulty gospel of “just believe and that’s all that matters,” churches will forbid marriage to anyone who hasn’t “said the words and accepted Jesus” while they will authorize a marriage to someone who “says the words and has accepted Jesus” even if that person’s life shows no real fruit of regeneration. Do you see how twisted all of this is?

I have had several Christian women who have survived horrible abuse over many years ask me if it is ever permissible before God for them to marry a non-Christian man. The case is usually that a man who does not profess to be a Christian has come along in the course of their life and is very respectful, kind, courteous, humble – everything the “Christian” they were previously married to wasn’t. What are they to do? In many cases like this the abuse survivor has nothing. She was robbed economically. Deserted. Shunned. And now here is a man who is generous and kind.

Now, for purposes of our discussion here, let me just say that I know and most all of you know that wicked people can parade as Mr. Wonderful. That great caution needs to be exercised in these situations lest the abuse survivor get duped right into still another abuser’s evil. But the cases I am speaking of are ones in which the non-Christian man has, over quite a long time, continued to show himself as genuine. Moral. Responsible. Kind. And what I want us to think about is this – If there are no real Christian men showing kindness and care for a woman who has been sorely abused, if in fact the “Christians” in her life have cast her out for divorcing her abuser, and now here is a man who is genuinely kind toward her, is it in fact a hard and fast unbreakable Law of God that she can never marry such a man?

Do you see my point? Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they strained out a gnat and swallowed a camel. They made the law of tithing so universally binding that it ruled out mercy toward their needy parents. And Jesus also said this:

Mat 12:1-7 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. (2) But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” (3) He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: (4) how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? (5) Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? (6) I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. (7) And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.

Mercy, not sacrifice. MERCY. God’s Word is to be applied faithfully, but to do so requires showing mercy. His Law was not given to enslave, but for man’s benefit. And it is my conclusion that most local churches and pastors today are showing themselves to be Pharisees who apply God’s Word in such a way that mercy is thrown out the window.

Silence as a Sign of Abuse

Deu 27:24 “‘Cursed be anyone who strikes down his neighbor in secret.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

Psa 64:2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the throng of evildoers,

Mar 4:22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.

One sign that a person is a victim of abuse is silence. I have seen this quite often. We write it off as “well, he/she is just a very quiet person.” And while it is true that some of us are not as communicative as others, the kind of silence I am speaking of here is a remarkable silence. It is something that stands out, to which people take notice. “So and so is sooo quiet. They never talk hardly at all.” The problem is, while we see the symptom, we fail to understand its cause.

Domestic abusers (including spiritual abusers and other types of tyrants) insist upon secrecy. “What goes on here in this family stays here!” A disguised “front” is displayed in public, but that image is a facade. What really happens behind those walls is evil, and it must remain hidden. So secrecy is an aspect of an abusive system. And this means – don’t talk.

The fear that an abuser instills in his target cultivates this silence as well. Perhaps she will say something that she will be punished for. And even if she tries in the slightest way to ask others for help, she may well be accused of “disrespecting” her abuser. So there are all kinds of pressures from many different sources that produce this resolve not to speak. The victim may not even be aware of how abnormal their non-communication is. If they could see themselves in years past, before the abuse began, often they would see a healthy, outgoing, talkative person. But that person has faded into the past. Now she is silent.

I have most typically seen this dynamic in women who are being abused by their husband, but I have also known some men to evidence it too. “Have you noticed that he just doesn’t talk?” is a common observation by those who know him, but few if any of these people understand the reason for the silence. They think “it’s just him.” But very often this non-talking trait is a symptom of abuse.

Do you see how devilish this is? How cruel? if a victim is going to be able to get help, they are going to have to talk. If we are to know what is going on behind the scenes, we have to be told. But the wicked use all kinds of tactics to ensure that this telling never happens. Threats. Shaming. Accusing. Stealing one’s confidenct. Destroying the victim’s trust in their own ability to interpret what they see. It all is designed to ensure that the power and control continue, and that no one knows about it. Secrecy. Silence.

To any victim presently caught up in this bondage, let me say this. You are afraid to talk. (And that fear, by the way, is well-grounded in many ways. Not only because the abuser has made threats, but because those the victim tells about the abuse normally become a loose cannon causing even more grief for her). But let me say this to anyone in an abusive marriage or other toxic relationship that insists you just shut up – you can begin talking by talking to the Lord. He will never respond in a wrong way. He, in fact, already knows all about what is happening to you. And in His providence, He is able to direct you to help and freedom.