Putting Easter into Practice

Today is Good Friday.  Nothing “good” about it in a sense.  It was anything but good for the disciples, and for our Lord.  A dark day of death and apparent victory by the enemy, when all seemed lost.  But it was very, very good as it turns out.  Our Passover Lamb was sacrificed and this time, He was the end of all Passover lambs.  This Lamb was effective – His blood has made us as white as snow.  From our perspective, as we look at that original Good Friday through the lens of Scripture, we see that God was orchestrating the whole thing all along.  Every thorn in the crown, the very seamlessness of Jesus’ tunic, the nearby tomb of the rich man – the whole thing was a drama ordained in eternity past.  The will of the Father was done.

What did the enemy and his minions think that first Easter morning?  Stone rolled away, tomb is empty – with Jesus’ grave clothes laying there in perfect outline as if somehow the body they once enveloped had been suctioned right out from inside them.  I think that is what Peter saw when we are told that he went inside, saw, and believed.  The cross, as it turns out, was a master strategy from the Master.  The greatest surprise attack of all time.  Death was led captive and the enemy POW’s were marched on display.  He is risen.

As Christ’s people, we are raised with Christ.  Joined to Him by the Spirit of Christ, we are members of His body.  His death is our death. His resurrection our resurrection.  New life.  New Creation.  New mind.  New heart.  And a new destiny.  Paul wrote about it to the Colossians –

Colossians 3:1-7, If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (2) Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (3) For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (4) When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (5) Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (6) On account of these the wrath of God is coming. (7) In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.

This blog is about the evil of abuse and the wickedness it effects upon its victims.  It is a cry for the evangelical church to wake up and repent of the injustice so often dealt to abuse victims who are sisters and brothers in Christ. But we hope that it is more than that.  We hope and pray that in the end, all that we do and write here is about the Lord Jesus Christ.   If we fail to point our readers to Him, then we fail.  Christ is everything, our all in all.  He is the answer to all of our woes, the Redeemer of all of our sins, the Judge of our oppressors.  He is our life, and our real existence and home is up there, with Him.

So, as much as we call right now for justice, we also must call all of our readers to set their eyes and their ultimate hope upon Christ Jesus.  Up there.  That’s where He is.  And he is coming, just as surely as He rose from the grave.  He is coming for us.  When He appears, what we really are will also appear.  “You will appear with him in glory” doesn’t so much mean that we will be in heaven (glory), but that we will be fully redeemed, glorified, having come into full possession of all that He has won for us.  The New Creation.  New, eternal bodies.  New.  Everything will be New.

For now, we are working on living as the New Creations that we are in Him. We once walked as earthlings.  Now we are aliens, and our Lord is working in us to teach us to live like the alien beings we really are.  Live out the resurrection.  Live like you are home already.  Because in fact, you are – for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ.

 

The Nature of Abuse Demonstrated in the Crucifixion of Christ

Last week as I was reading through the Gospel account of Christ’s betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion, I was struck with how often this narrative exposes the mentality, nature, and tactics of abuse.  This really should not surprise us because abuse is just plain sin.  I think that it is in fact perhaps the most “diabolically beautiful” portraits of sin to be found.

Its essence is the lust for power and control over — everything!  It is the acting out of Satan’s declaration, “I will be like the Most High.”  In other words, the abuser, like the devil, lusts to be God.  Understand that and your eyes will be opened to everything else he does.

Consider with me then how abusers joined together to kill the Son of God on the cross.  After each section of Scripture, I will identify the abuse tactics and/or mentality that is so characteristic of this great evil we have all come to know too well:

Mat 26:20-25 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. (21) And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”  (22) And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” (23) He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” (24) Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”

Abusers are most often people whom we believed to be our intimate friends, such as a spouse.

Mat 26:31-46 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ (32) But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” (33) Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” (34) Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” (35) Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

(36) Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” (37) And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. (38) Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (39) And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (40) And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? (41) Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (42) Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” (43) And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. (44) So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. (45) Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. (46) Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

Many people will claim to stand with a victim against the abuser, but when push comes to shove, they don’t.

Mat 26:47-50 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. (48) Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” (49) And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. (50) Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.

The kiss of Judas.  The abuser’s method of betrayal and abuse is so often couched behind a facade of “love” for the victim.  Especially in the presence of witnesses.

Mat 26:55-56 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. (56) But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

The abuser so often does his dirtiest work at “night” and brings out the most wicked forms of force and coercion at such times.  He dares not show his real nature in the daylight.  Once again, notice that no friends stand with the victim at such times.  They all leave and flee.

Mat 26:58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end.

Following at a distance.  How many of our friends do this?  Not with us, but tagging along behind where they won’t suffer.

Mat 26:59-61 Now the chief priests and the whole Council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, (60) but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward (61) and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’”

Lies.  False allegations.  An active seeking of false charges so as to bring condemnation upon the victim.  Notice also how these evil men used Jesus’ true and righteous words to condemn him.  “Well, wife, is it not true that you said….”?

Mat 26:65-68 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. (66) What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” (67) Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, (68) saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”

The essence of abuse in regard to the innocent is murder.  The abuser’s righteous victim must be destroyed because she KNOWS him and stands in the way of his quest for power, control, and deity.  Notice also the tactics of mocking and the instilling of fear through physical assault.

Mat 26:69-74 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” (70) But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” (71) And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” (72) And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” (73) After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” (74) Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed.

Miraculously, and only because Jesus had prayed for him, Peter would repent and return to Christ, the Lord Jesus later giving him a gracious opportunity to confess Him as Lord 3 times to counter Peter’s thrice denial of the same.  But here, once again, someone very close to Jesus betrays Him, refusing to stand with Him in that darkest hour.

Mat 27:20-31 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. (21) The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” (22) Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” (23) And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

(24) So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” (25) And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (26) Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

(27) Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. (28) And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, (29) and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” (30) And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. (31) And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

The abuser works toward this end: that the wicked are justified and the righteous are condemned.  See this horridly typical fact: the Son of God is crucified while the terrorist is set free and permitted full privileges.  The tactic of mocking is seen here once again. Notice however the sobering self-judgment the abuser pronounces upon himself:  “His blood be on us and on our children.”  And so it is.

Mat 27:39-44 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads (40) and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (41) So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, (42) “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. (43) He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” (44) And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Here you have the public shaming of the victim, the slander and wagging heads and tongues.  How often do we see this in so-called churches after a victim is shamed away? How often do such people claim that if the victim was truly righteous as she claims to be, then God would be on her side and all these bad things would not be happening to her.

Mat 27:55-60 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, (56) among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

(57) When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. (58) He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. (59) And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud (60) and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.

But in the end, there might be one, or two, or maybe 3 people who prove to be genuine friends of the victim.  Take careful note that the most consistent friends of the mocked and crucified Jesus were women.  Perhaps a more logical explanation is that they, and perhaps even Joseph, had suffered for following Jesus before, thus experiencing the evil of abuse themselves?  Inevitably, these are the kind of people who will stand with us in the end.

 

 

“Thank-you” for your gifts and prayers for my Tax Bill – from Anonymous Abuse Survivor

Last month we brought to your attention an immediate need of one of our readers regarding an unexpected tax bill.  (Links to the original post and the update posts – first and final – are here for those of you who didn’t see those posts.) That need was met in only nine days.  What a blessing your outpouring was to her.  For safety reasons the abuse survivor needs to remain anonymous, but she wanted to express her gratitude so we putting it as a stand alone post so that as many as possible have a chance to see it.

I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who participated in praying or giving toward the payment of my taxes this year. I am amazed at how God continues to provide for me in ways beyond anything I could expect or imagine. When I first began praying about this with my close friend, she reminded me that nothing is impossible for God. The struggles I face can be stressful and exasperating at times, but I also know that they cause me to have to rely on faith in God for my situation, more all the time, and that actually feels good to me to watch all the ways He cares for His own. 

I am praying God will return to all of you a one hundred fold blessing for your care and generosity and for His hand to meet every need you have in your life. My love and prayers are with you, always. May your celebration of Easter this year hold great blessing for all of you. 

Anonymous ️ 

The Abuse Victim as Widow

Exodus 22:22 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child.

Deuteronomy 10:17-18 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. (18) He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.

Psalms 94:6 They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless;

James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

These few verses are just a small sampling of many others found in Scripture that repeat the very same theme – God commands us to render justice for and give care to the helpless and weak.  Orphans and widows are prime examples.  I would like to suggest to you that the victim of abuse classifies as a widow, and therefore the Lord expects us to provide her with justice and protection.  Why do we call her a widow? Because her husband really is no husband.  He is an oppressor and tormentor. Often, she is a “widow indeed” because her abuser has successfully alienated the rest of her family from her.

1 Timothy 5:3-5 Honor widows who are truly widows. (4) But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. (5) She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day…

If you have studied this subject of abuse much at all, you know that this phrase “left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in prayers night and day…” is quite a good description of the Christian woman who is a victim of abuse.

Continue reading “The Abuse Victim as Widow”

A Lesson in Evil – and Not Being Deceived by it

1Co 2:1-5 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. (2) For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (3) And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, (4) and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (5) so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

It has become almost commonplace to read of still another well-known “happening” pastor being exposed in some wicked, hidden sin that has been going on for quite sometime, all the while he continued to preach to and teach others. We are all sick of it. And we are also sick of how these guys and their band of brothers treat victims of domestic and sexual abuse. One of the chief reasons for this oppression of victims in local churches is nothing less than the fact that the head guys are wolves.

But would you like to know what I am even more sick of? I will tell you – I am sick of these guys’ statements of “confession and repentance.” 

I am going to give you a fairly recent example of just such a case and then I am going to point out to you why most all of these claims of “repentance” need to be rejected by us. Ready? Here we go.

Continue reading “A Lesson in Evil – and Not Being Deceived by it”

Abuse and Anger: Is it a Sin to Be Angry Toward Our Abuser?

Ephesians 4:26-27 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, (27) and give no opportunity to the devil.

We had a discussion once in a Bible study group about whether it is right or not for a Christian to ever be angry when they are sinned against.  That is to say, some people wondered if anger is ever appropriate when we ourselves are the victim.  Being angry when another person was victimized didn’t seem to be troublesome to anyone, but the idea of being angry when we personally are victimized seemed to be sinful in the thinking of some.  Someone said, “well, Jesus was angry when He drove the money changers out of the temple, so anger must not always be sinful.”  Someone else responded, “but we are not Jesus.”

Now, this much I do know.  If we tell abuse victims that it is sinful for them to be angry about what was done or is being done to them, we are going to do them much harm.  In fact many abusers will use this very tactic against their victim: “You call yourself a Christian!  You are just an angry, bitter person!  You are unforgiving.” You know the line I am sure.

So what about it?  It is pretty easy to find Scriptures that show that it is right to be angry when we see evil and injustice.  But what about when we are the victim of that evil and injustice ourselves?

Continue reading “Abuse and Anger: Is it a Sin to Be Angry Toward Our Abuser?”

Abuse as Enslavement: “Clipping Her Wings”

If you have ever had chickens, you may have had to trim their wing feathers to keep them from flying out of the chicken pen.  Clipping wings is a good thing when done to chickens.  It really is for their own good.  Chickens just aren’t meant to soar like an eagle (if they try, the eagle will get them). And besides, soaring makes finding the eggs pretty hard.

But abusive people believe in clipping the wings of their victims, and this is most definitely not a good thing.  We as human beings are intended by our Creator to soar:

Psalms 8:3-9 ESV When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, (4)  what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (5)  Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. (6)  You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, (7)  all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, (8)  the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. (9)  O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Abusers however, work to keep their targets in the pen.  And as most of our readers already know, they have many tactics for doing just that.  One such clipping tool is a kind of economic one.  Let me explain.

Continue reading “Abuse as Enslavement: “Clipping Her Wings””