Let’s Talk about “Peace”

Isa 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Christ is titled the Prince of Peace. We look forward to the fullness of His kingdom in large part because there will be unending, complete and final peace. Every single aspect of war and conflict, sin and hatred, racism and injustice will be gone forever. Peace is a beautiful thing that in reality none of us have ever known in its full glory.

And when it comes to this evil business of abuse that we deal with, we are confronted by various “experts” who claim to hold the key to giving us peace. There are numbers of ministries that focus on this issue of peace. Some are worse than others, but most all of them raise my suspicions. Over and over again victims who go to them for help end up being put on trial. They are told that “well, God wants peace restored in your life so here is what YOU need to do.” That sort of thing. The problem is that so often what the victim “needs” to do is to make peace with her abuser!

Now, think this through. How does the Prince of Peace establish peace? Even now, but on that Day also when He comes again? How does Christ fill the creation once again with peace? I can tell you:

2Th 1:5-9 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— (6) since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, (7) and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels (8) in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (9) They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

There will be no negotiations with the enemy. Only full and complete destruction. The wicked will be cast into the Lake of Fire and we will never ever see or hear from them again.

And I want to tell you that THIS aspect of peace, that is to say, this business of HOW Christ is going to fill the creation with peace, is swept under the carpet by most supposed “abuse ministries,” churches, and pastors today. In other words, the “peace” they promise via their various programs and formulas is a false peace. As our friend Lynn has recently said in her post on Hezekiah’s prayer, there is no place for imprecatory prayer in these people’s system. As a result, we see that the Christ they serve is not the Lord Jesus of the Bible. He is a watered down version who loves everyone the same and what Paul says in 2 Thessalonians is, well, not worthy of this Jesus they serve.

So beware. Most “peace” that is promised by this myriad of “Christian” ministries is a false peace. Abuse victims are not going to have peace until they are able to be free of their abuser and that means that in this present life, absolute peace is not going to be achieved. The amazing thing about the New heavens and New Earth that we who are in Christ are headed for is this:

Rev 21:4-8 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (5) And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (6) And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (7) The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (8) But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

See it? The former things will have passed away. That means a whole lot more than we realize. It means that those triggering memories, all that PTSD, all of it – will be gone! Every tear. Every aspect of death. Gone. And why? Not only because of our new resurrection selfs, but because the wicked will have received their portion in that burning, eternal lake. We will never see them again. Will we think of them again? I don’t think so. And that is real peace.

Let’s Talk About “Marriage Intensives”

1Jn 2:27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1Th 4:9  Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 

Recently I received an announcement from Focus on the Family about something they call “Hope Restored – A Marriage Intensive Experience.” The email had a some pictures attached. One was of a woman looking forlorn and having the caption “Do you feel alone in your marriage?” A second picture was of her and her husband lovingly embracing one another, this time with the captions: “There’s still hope for your marriage. A counseling retreat to help your marriage survive and thrive.”

I regularly receive accounts from victims of a domestic abuser spouse that include in their story something like this – “Our church told me that we needed to go to a marriage intensive. So we did. We spent three days there. I was told that I needed to…. After we got home, nothing changed except the abuse got worse.”

Is there a place for marriage counseling at all? Yes, but not for cases of domestic abuse. Furthermore, I suggest to you that even in cases where marriage counseling is appropriate, the substance of the counseling is worthless. It is not the message of the Word of God. It never addresses the real issue of “are you really born again.”

Let me be even more direct. Any notion that you can take people and run them through some exercises dreamed up by someone, instruct them in curriculum written by a supposed marriage expert and after one or two or three days of this, miraculously effect a transformation of some kind, is a flight of fancy. It is fiction. Especially if the whole business is wrapped up in a claim to be “Christian.”

Look again at the verses quoted above. Who is it that is taught by God? Every real Christian. What is it that the Lord teaches each one of His people? To love one another. And this is where any true Christian counseling must begin. Who are you? Are you really born again? You do not appear to be loving your spouse? Why is that? No one should have to be teaching you this if you are really born again.

Heb 8:10-11 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (11) And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.

But you are not going to hear this at these “intensives.” They are instead going to proceed on the assumption that the counselees are Christians and then they are going to run them through their fix-it mill and effect, by human effort and works, a marriage that has a fairy tale ending “they all lived happily ever after…because they went to the marriage intensive.”

And in the case of an abuser…he will have been intensively provided with much more ammunition to use on his victim.

The Trauma of a Broken Mind – An Important Article by my Friend

The following is an important article by my friend Ruth Anne Dean. In it she tells us about a widely misundertstood disorder of the brain which almost took her life. She is an encouragement to me for the way in which she has endured deep suffering and yet emerged in joy and a persevering faith in Christ:

It was a warm spring day that matched the mood of our six-year old daughter. For her it was a day of hope that seemed to spill from the earth as it was warmed by the sunshine. As we walked home from the kindergarten bus stop she bent over and plucked a dandelion that had gone to seed. I paused to watch her purse her lips and blow the dandelion’s white down into the fresh air as she whispered, “I wish for a puppy.

The sweet side of my children came out especially when they were playing with their pets. Our son always had a cat. For the new kitten he chose a very soft old blanket and made the new kitten bed in his bottom desk drawer.

This was the calm before the storm. Our family of four was not prepared for me to suddenly develop major depressive disorder with psychosis. I had some knowledge from nursing school about mental health, but no amount of knowledge could prepare me for the vortex of confusion and heartache that lay ahead.

I was already struggling physically with Crohn’s disease and the stress it caused. A rheumatoid type of arthritis went with it and caused swelling and pain in my joints. Within three weeks of starting a new medication for my health problems a reaction to a medication caused me to slip into a severe low sodium called hyponatremia. I had symptoms of chills, sweats, weakness, confusion and pallor with this low sodium.

When a person in a low sodium state is returned to normal too rapidly, severe abnormalities can develop in their brain. Unfortunately this is what happened to me causing my brain to take a free fall into hell.

In his book The Case for Grace, Lee Strobel, the former investigative journalist and current Christian apologist and author, provides an excellent description of his brief episode of insanity when he experienced a life threatening health crisis with hyponatremia. Here is his description:

“what threatened my life the most was hyponatremia—my blood sodium level had plummeted to the point where life was unsustainable. Water was entering my cells and triggering dangerous swelling of my brain. Doctors needed to raise the level back to normal to stabilize me, but it had to be done slowly and carefully. If it were elevated to quickly, the brain could be irreparably damaged, leading to death or severe disability.”

“Alone in the bedroom, my yet-to-be diagnosed hyponatremia continued to worsen. I became utterly convinced that everything in my life was gone. My wife was leaving me. My children were denouncing me. My friends were abandoning me. My bank accounts were dry. The house and cars were being repossessed. Police were hunting for me for unspecified crimes. Though innocent, I was headed to prison and disgrace. I imagined myself living in a dirt field, alone, shivering against the Colorado cold, with nowhere to go and nobody to help me.”

“From my perspective, this was no medically induced fantasy; this was indistinguishable from reality. I felt the full emotional impact of every part of it.”

Without minimizing Lee Strobel’s experience with hyponatremia in any way, the consequences of my experience with it were catastrophic and life-altering. I experienced similar delusions, convinced that my family would soon be starving and living under a bridge because of the imminent world economic crisis. On my mind was a picture of me huddled in a small cave with walls of dirt and bare roots with the devil in the background waiting to take me.

My whole life I had eagerly anticipated the joy of being a mother, but now the role I treasured brought nothing but pain. Thoughts of my imagined failure as a mother assaulted me. Another delusion was that I lost my salvation and relationship with Jesus. Repentance was not an option for me, and hell was what I deserved. The emotions attached to these delusions were intense, and profound loneliness and hopelessness engulfed me. This all began suddenly and lasted for one very long year. I was experiencing psychosis which made it impossible for me to grasp the person I had been for the previous 48 years. It was like being alone in a black hole and falling, falling, falling. Every thought convinced me I was worthless. Psychiatric care was needed. My psychiatrist described my brain as being in a total shutdown. My normal brain function had ceased; it was as if I had lost my very self.

My brain continued to deteriorate and I began having suicidal thoughts. One day, alone in the upstairs of our home, tragedy struck. I suddenly felt as if my head was detached from my body and I started running but didn’t know where I was going. I was like a marionette on a string, with a puppeteer in charge of my every move. Unable to control my actions, I ran to the window and fell twenty feet below to cement, permanently damaging my spine. The nightmare continued. Two hours by ambulance to the hospital, seven hours of surgery, seven units of blood and seven days in the hospital. Of that time I remember almost nothing except the shocked, heartbroken faces of my children when they learned I would never walk again. I was still psychotic, but knew my behavior could not be understood by my family or anyone else, including me. I’ve heard actions like mine were a choice. It was actually like a seizure. These actions were something I would never choose.

The term that describes our family’s sorrow at that time is “ambiguous grief.” We were all grieving the loss of me; my body was there, but in it was someone else’s brain. My children gave voice to what they were experiencing. My son missed my laughter when I talked on the phone. My daughter missed the sound of my voice as we talked because I rarely talked. We hoped medication would help me recover my personality but there were no guarantees. When the correct medication and dosage were found, my brain began to slowly function normally again. I was so thankful when normal returned although by now I had to learn to do life in a wheel chair because of the spinal cord injury, but that was absolutely nothing compared to pain of depressive psychosis.

Twenty years passed before I told my psychiatrist about my detached mind experience leading to the fall. He described my experience as a psychotic break, caused by the brain’s chemical serotonin level falling so low that there was an actual break in the transmission of nerve impulses between my body and brain. What I had experienced was something with a medical explanation. My strange behavior which included self harm were symptoms of a mental illness like spots are a symptoms of the measles.

My thoughts while I was ill were strange and illogical, which was very hard for my friends and family’s logical brains to understand. On occasion one would try to convince me out of a delusion by logical reasoning. Absolute failure was the result.

I have found many people who are unacquainted with mental illness do not understand or accept the illogical thoughts of the mentally ill. There are over 200 brain disorders that demonstrate how crippling a brain disorder can be. Here are three of them, imagine yourself living a normal life with any one these:

  • Cotard’s syndrome causes a person to think he or she is dead.
  • Prosopagnosia can cause a person to not be able to recognize their own face in a mirror.
  • Capgas delusions causes a person to think that their loved ones have been replaced by an imposter.

Jesus understood illnesses and touched all types with His healing power.

Mathew 4: 23-24 KJV “and Jesus went out about all Galatia teaching in the synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all manner of diseases among the people. And His fame went throughout all Syria and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with diverse diseases, and those that were possessed with devils and those who were lunatic and torments and those that had the palsy and He healed them.

Over the years Christians have fed the hungry, cared for the sick, taken the orphan for their own, built hospitals and orphanages, and started schools. They have worked to end slavery, infanticide, child labor and widow burning. Treatment of the mentally ill has been bogged down by fear, stigma and lack of knowledge. But mental illness and the pain that accompanies it can be just as devastating as these other scenarios. It is my hope that the reader of this article will see the human brain as an amazing work done by an awesome Creator. It is an organ that can suffer disease like any other organ of the body. When someone is experiencing pain or dysfunction of any kind, we should be a reflection of the compassion that Jesus showed, also helping to provide what is needed to accomplish healing and alleviate suffering. While we are created in the image of our awesome Creator, we are called to do His work of healing in whatever ways He calls us to do.