Category Archives: The Church

The Church and Security

It is time for churches to take action and prepare for the worst so they can avoid it if possible. Church shootings are the most well-known dangers that are probable, but many other dangers still plague churches. Below I list on some of the shootings in a church, but below that I will also give some additional information on other dangers and problem areas.

The following are quotes from various news sources.

The Charleston church shooting (also known as the Charleston church massacre) was a mass shooting, that took place at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, United States, on the evening of June 17, 2015. The Shooter was believed to have stopped at another church afterwards, possibly contemplating further violence.

– – – – – – –  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charleston_church_shooting

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee man police say brazenly opened fire on a Nashville-area church Sunday morning, killing one and seriously injuring seven others, admitted to police he opened fire on the church, according to new court documents. The shooting occurred in the city of Antioch, at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ.

– – – – – – –  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/09/25/nashville-church-shooting-suspect-cryptic-posts/699082001/

In April 2014, a gunman opened fire at a Jewish community center and a Jewish assisted living facility in a Kansas City suburb, killing three, including a 14-year-old boy. The suspect, an avowed white supremacist named Frazier Glenn Cross, aka Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., was charged with first-degree murder. None of the victims was Jewish. Cross, in failing health, said this past April that he would plead guilty to avoid a lengthy trial.

In August 2012, an attacker entered a kitchen at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee before Sunday services and began shooting. He killed three people inside the house of worship and three people outside. The shooter, Wade Michael Page, an Army veteran, reportedly wounded a police officer before killing himself. He was known to have ties to hate groups, but the FBI could not completely clarify his motives.

In July 2008, a man walked into a children’s musical performance at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, pulled out a shotgun and began shooting. Two people died and seven were wounded. Jim David Adkisson confessed to the attack in an affidavit, saying the church’s “liberal teachings” had compelled him to kill. In 2009, Adkisson was sentenced to life in prison.

In December 2007, 24-year-old Matthew J. Murray went on a killing spree at two locations 65 miles apart. After being told he could not spend the night, he shot up the Youth With A Mission training center in Arvada, Colorado, killing two people. He then killed two more at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, where Youth With A Mission kept an office. He was reportedly shot by a congregant doubling as a security guard before he was said to have committed suicide. Forensic evidence led police to determine that Murray had committed both attacks.”

“In August 2007, a shooting in Neosho, Missouri, pierced the heart of the Micronesian community. Shouting “Liar, liar!” a man riddled the First Congregational Church with bullets. Three people died in the gunfire during the Micronesian service and five were wounded. Eiken Elam Saimon, also a member of the Micronesian community but not an active member of that church, later pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison, avoiding the death penalty.”

“In July 2006, a man barged through the security entrance of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and shot six women, killing one. The gunman, Naveed Haq, said he was angry at Israel. He received a life sentence in 2010.”

– – – – – –  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/18/shootings-places-of-worship_n_7612520.html

Besides the above information,

The report, “’Crimes against Christian Organizations in the United States -2010,’ which was independently compiled by the organization, shows that many crimes against churches increased between 2009 and 2010. Among the crimes that saw a sharp increase in 2010 were burglary, theft and internal theft, which combined costs churches nearly $20 million in damage. Though it only increased slightly in 2010, incidents of arson were also costly to churches nationwide, inflicting more than $3 million in damage, according to the report.”

The report, “Crimes against churches on the rise,” by Joel Griffin, assistant editor on Feb 17, 2011, detailed how bad the situation really is.

For more information go to: http://www.securityinfowatch.com/article/10489161/report-crimes-against-churches-on-the-rise.

Finally, I want to encourage all churches to get in touch with Kris P. Moloney at Sheepdog Church Security, He and his team will help you identify areas of concern, and will explain steps to resolve those issues. Their website is http://sheepdogchurchsecurity.net/index.html

Límites Personales En La Consejería

Satanás ha tenido mucho éxito en contra matrimonios cristianos.

· Mediante el uso de la cultura popular, ha convencido a muchas personas de que aunque estén casadas, siguen siendo dos personas completamente separadas.

· En muchos casos, esto produce una atmósfera de contención, con ambos intentando ganar el control sobre el otro.

· Esto se debe a que en lugar de ambos individuos trabajando juntos para lograr metas mutuamente beneficiosas, cada uno trata de alcanzar metas que se benefician a sí mismos.

Texas es un estado de propiedad común, esto significa que lo que le pertenece a uno de ustedes también le pertenece al otro.

· Si uno de ustedes debe una factura, ambos deben la cuenta, no importa cuyo nombre esté en ella.

· Esta es la ley, y no importa lo que digas o lo que creas.

· Por lo tanto, si uno de ustedes tiene un problema legal, ambos tienen problemas legales.

En las Escrituras, nos dicen que cuando una pareja se casa se convierten en uno.

· Esto significa que la pareja es vista de la misma manera por Dios.

· Cada uno tiene sus responsabilidades, pero ambos son responsables ante Dios y entre sí.

· Si uno de ustedes hace algo malo, afectará al otro tanto.

· Esta es la Palabra de Dios, y no importa lo que digas o lo que creas.

· Así que si uno de ustedes tiene problemas, entonces ambos tienen problemas.

Si una persona casada piensa que si su esposo (a) es quien tiene un problema, y no ellos mismos, es una mentira.

HAY 2 MANERAS DE ENTENDER ESTOS “LÍMITES”.

· Una de ellas es condicionamientos , y la otra es acuerdos.

· Las primeras (condiciones) se refieren a condiciones que establecemos para que otros puedan elegir si desean una relación con nosotros o no.

· El segundo (acuerdos) se refiere a la manera en la que vamos a tener una relación con los demás.

· En el matrimonio, ambos son importantes, y son diferentes entre sí.

CONDICIONES

El primer tipo de límites son importantes para nosotros específicamente.

· Son lo que usaremos para protegernos de los malos tratos de otras personas en nuestras vidas.

· Cuando dejamos de ser claros a otras personas en cuanto a lo que es aceptable y no aceptable en nuestra relación con ellos, nos abrimos a la posibilidad de que puedan aprovecharse de nosotros.

· Si no decimos que no a lo que creemos que está mal, permitimos que otros crean que estamos dispuestos a tenerlos para tratarnos de la manera que ellos elijan.

· Incluso si la gente no se dispone a aprovecharse de nosotros, con nuestro silencio les enseñaremos y les capacitaremos para que hagan exactamente eso.

Nadie puede leer tu mente.

· Sólo porque son adultos que no saben automáticamente lo que está bien y no está bien.

· Y, en muchos casos, usted tendrá que enseñar (tal vez incluso entrenar) a ellos cómo hacer lo que usted está esperando de ellos.

Las condiciones pueden ser colocadas bajo dos secciones separadas.

1 – Aceptable 2 -Inaceptable .

ACEPTABLE

Condiciones aceptables son los que usted ha considerado seriamente y encontrar está bien si están en su vida.

▪ Por ejemplo, usted pone una condición en sí mismo para hacer ejercicio.

▪ Tal vez decidas orar más a menudo.

Las condiciones aceptables le ayudan a aclarar las cosas que desea en su vida, y quieren continuar y/o mejorar.

▪ Por ejemplo, ahorrar dinero para una casa, hacer nuevos amigos, y / o estudiar su Biblia

INACEPTABLE

Condiciones Inaceptables son los que usted ha considerado seriamente y decide que NO está bien si están en su vida.

Por ejemplo, usted elige no fumar cigarrillos o beber alcohol, o decide no tener relaciones con personas que se aprovechan de otros.

▪ Las condiciones inaceptables le ayudan a aclarar aquellas cosas que NO desea en su vida, y/o que continúen en su vida.

El establecimiento de condiciones , después de toda una vida sin aclarar las condiciones, será estresante y algo difícil.

· Esto es porque los seres humanos tienden a seguir los patrones.

· Nos acostumbramos a vivir de cierta manera y generalmente no nos gusta el cambio.

· ¿Por qué?

· Porque el cambio significa que tenemos que trabajar en ello, y no hay respuestas fáciles.

Las condiciones son importantes porque nos entrenamos para vivir una vida más segura y más saludable, y otros aprenden lo que está bien y no está bien hacer en una relación con nosotros, si quieren tal relación.

Consecuencias de las condiciones – Este es simple, si la otra persona no está dispuesto a aceptar sus condiciones para tener una relación, usted no tiene una relación con ellos.

Donde no hay consecuencias, hay permiso.

ACUERDOS

Los acuerdos son límites que usted trabaja con alguien con quien usted tiene una relación.

· Esto podría ser un esposo o esposa, padre o hijo, pariente o amigo, gente en el trabajo iglesia.

· Los límites en el matrimonio se refieren a los acuerdos entre usted y su cónyuge.

· Estos acuerdos son una especie de reglas que usted y su cónyuge crean juntos para aclarar circunstancias que podrían convertirse en problemas importantes si no se resuelven o aclaran pronto.

La idea de los acuerdos es que si la pareja elabora un acuerdo sobre cualquier asunto o situación que pueda afectar su matrimonio, tienen la posibilidad de evitar cualquier argumento o argumentos problemáticos en el futuro.

· El problema será si ambos mantienen su palabra y siguen el acuerdo.

· Si lo hacen, tendrán una relación más pacífica y más saludable.

Los acuerdos son sólo eso, los acuerdos.

· No deben ser utilizados uno contra el otro.

· Se trata de acuerdos que han sido considerados por ambas personas, y ambos coinciden en que es para su mutuo beneficio que se establezca el acuerdo.

· Los acuerdos deben aplicarse a ambas personas por igual.

· Nunca debe haber acuerdos dirigidos a una persona u otra.

· No se trata de controlar a los demás, sino de estar de acuerdo unos con otros.

· El objetivo NO es para ti ganar, el objetivo es que AMBOS de ti gane.

Consecuencias por violar un acuerdo – Esto dependerá de la violación. Voy a dar ejemplos a continuación.

EJEMPLOS

· Ninguno de nosotros puede tener un amigo del sexo opuesto sin la presciencia del otro, y su acuerdo para la amistad antes de que comience.

o Si tengo una amistad con una persona del sexo opuesto, y mi cónyuge no lo sabe, significa que hay algo malo, porque lo he escondido de mi cónyuge. Por lo tanto he estado engañando a mi esposo. Si estaba en el trabajo, mi cónyuge puede pedirme que renuncie a mi trabajo y encontrar otro como consecuencia.

o Ninguno de nosotros hablará negativamente sobre el otro a ninguna otra persona, pariente o amigo, y tampoco permitiremos que otros hablemos negativamente sobre nuestro cónyuge.

o Si hablo negativamente acerca de mi cónyuge a otra persona, mi cónyuge puede pedirme que vaya a esa persona y decirles que estaba equivocado en lo que hice. Si permito que alguien me hable negativamente acerca de mi cónyuge, mi cónyuge puede pedirme que regrese a esa persona y les advierto que no hable negativamente sobre ella a mí de nuevo.

· Nuestra casa será un hogar divino, todos los que viven aquí irán a la iglesia.

o Cualquier visitante de nuestra casa, a quien permitimos que viva con nosotros por cualquier período de tiempo y que elige no asistir a la iglesia, se le pedirá que se vaya.

DONDE NO HAY CONSECUENCIAS,
ALLI HAY PERMISO.

How Do You Know?

 

During a recent conversation with a fellow Christian who was arguing that he wanted to start digging deeper into the things of God, I challenged him with what seemed a simple question.

I asked him, “Do you believe that the earth is spinning at 1,000 miles per hour?”

He paused a moment and answered, “Everyone knows the earth spins.”

“How do you know that for certain?” I asked.

“Because that is what we have been taught all of our lives,” he said with much confidence, then he hesitated, “Right?”

I asked him another question, “Do you believe that the earth is round?”

With a frown of suspicion on his face, he responded, “Of course!”

“How do you know that for certain?” I asked.

“Because …” he said slower this time, “that is what we have been taught all of our lives. What are you getting at?”

I smiled, “Well, in Genesis, the Bible teaches that God created the earth and that it was just formless water. Then, God opened a space inside that water, like a giant air bubble, and caused dry land to appear. After that, it says, He put into that same space, in the water, the stars, the sun, and the moon. Do you believe that?” I asked him.

He stared at me for a moment, as though he was trying to see through a dirty window.

Then, as though he had caught onto something, he asked, “That’s a trick question, right?”

“No,” I smiled again, “That is the truth.”

“So you’re saying we live in a giant air bubble inside a lot of water?” he asked incredulously.ancient-hebrew-view-of-universe

“Whoa!” I replied smiling even more, “I didn’t write the Bible, nor did I inspire it. Read it for yourself. Genesis 1:1-17”

He snatched open his Bible and started reading out loud. I waited until he finished and asked him, “Do you believe what the Bible teaches about the creation of the earth?”

This time, though, he just stared at me, then down to the Bible he was holding, and back up to me. He opened his mouth to say something, then looked back down at the Bible, then back up to me.

“This is very different from what we have been told, right?” he said.

There are many godly believers who want to “dig deeper” into the Bible, as my friend said, but the first thing they have to confront is the question whether they are prepared to believe what they read and whether they are ready to change their minds about what is true.” Too many believers want to learn more about Bible teaching but will struggle greatly when they are confronted with something that differs from their existing beliefs.

globeFrom the first day you entered a school class, you were faced with a globe of the earth. The concept of a round earth was immediately implanted in your mind, and then it has been reinforced continuously since then. We hear about space, and trips to the moon, and possibly other planets. We are told the earth spins around at 1,000 miles per hour, and 67,000 miles per hour around the sun, and over hundreds of thousands of miles per hour through the Milky Way Galaxy. We are told that nothing existed, but that the nothing exploded and, due to that, we now have a universe. I could keep on going with all that we have been taught, and we have accepted all of that with little to no real proof. If the scientists say it is true, we accepted it as truth. You can go outside this very moment, look up into the sky, and if you pay attention to your natural senses alone, you will notice nothing that proves the earth is spinning. Yet, regardless of what your senses tell you, your mind will argue that the earth is spinning. Why? Because that is what you already believe.

On the other hand, people who claim the name of Jesus, will read the Scriptures and love them and want to hear about them. But, when they run across a teaching which challenges what they already believe is true, they will depend on their senses. My friend, after reading the Genesis passage, looked up into the sky. He looked up and then spanned across the whole sky.

“I don’t see any water up there,” he said as if that alone was the entire proof that it did not exist.

“Can you feel the earth spinning,” I asked him.

“No.”

“So, you believe that the earth is spinning, even though your senses have no proof, but you cannot believe the Genesis teaching because your senses tell you there’s no proof, right?”

My friend is typical when it comes to those of us who claim to believe in a God. When people hear what they already believe, proof or not, they will accept it without question or challenge. Evidence is not required or expected. But, when the Bible teaches something that is challenging, people will immediately consider their senses, life experiences, and what they already believe as the test before they will accept the Word of God. The teaching in Genesis is a perfect example of this conundrum in which many believers find themselves often. They believe scientists much more readily than God Himself.

God, in and of Himself, is a real challenge for us as humans. Just the idea that some being exists which is capable of impossible things, is all-powerful, knows everything that has, is, or will happen, and can be in one or more places at the same time, is intimidating.  Next to a being like this, we are seemingly nothing but tiny specks. No wonder the atheists don’t want to believe in a God, it diminishes them. Any person who can consider the existence of such a being without unnerving awe is crazy. Yet, “believers” throw the name of Jesus around as though it was something easy to grasp.

Think about what we claim to believe. First, that there is actually an alien being that is that powerful, and that the most solid “evidence” we have of His existence is the Bible. I put quotes around the word “evidence” because I am using the word loosely. Using evidence to prove anything requires that you first decide what you will accept as evidence. One group of people may accept somethings as evidence, while others may reject the same. In any case, we all know the Bible was written by men, who the Bible itself claims were inspired by the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Bible claims that it is its own evidence. Other than the Scriptures’ own claim of evidence, there is no other evidence that the Bible is the actual “Word” of God. We either will accept this or not. This is a simple decision of the mind.

prove-it

I don’t know about you, but I do not accept anything as truth until I am able to put it to test. I have had to do this with everything I have believed my entire life. I have believed things, in the past, which turned out to be lies or error. Those times resulted in bad decisions, problems I did not need to go through, and loss of relationships or benefits. Just because I believed that something was true, did not prove it was. The results eventually taught me the truth. So, I changed in how I accept the truth. I challenge everything, and what is true will prove itself through acceptable evidence. When I deal with the Bible, the Word of God, I do the same. I do not believe anything until I find enough evidence to support what the Scriptures claim. One caveat, though, I have no problem allowing the Bible to be its own evidence. On the other hand, I will challenge the Scriptures. I know there is nothing wrong with this because the Scriptures themselves teach that God is just fine with being tested. In the third chapter of Malachi, in the 10th verse, the Word claims that God issued a challenge to believers. It quotes the Lord as saying, “Test Me.” I, for one, will not argue with God. If He says, “Test Me,” I will test Him. This is not some attitude problem on my part, it is obedience. My senses tell me that I should just “humble” myself before the Lord, and grovel at His feet, just because He is God, I mean, who the heck do I think I am? On the other hand, am I going to disobey God because my senses tell me different? Notice in the book of First John (4:1 NASB), “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” If I just accept everything I read, or am taught as being, in the Bible as the truth, I might deceive myself. God is warning me to pay attention. He does not want me to fall for lies, and start believing heresy (stuff that sound like the truth, but is not). So, He instructs me to “test” and see if it is from Him or not.test-me

You probably remember the Biblical story of Jesus’s forty day fast (not eating for that time period). Satan appeared to Him and tried to tempt Him. At one point, the enemy even quoted Scripture to the Lord. Do you understand? The devil himself read from the Bible, word for word, and he was still lying. Just because the Bible says something, it is not enough to prove it is from God. The Bible truthfully quotes Satan as saying something, but it also teaches that everything Satan says it a lie. Satan is quoted in the Bible, right? But, we should never take what he says as truth, just because it is quoted in the Scriptures. That is why God instructs us to test the spirits to see if they are from Him. Along with this, we have the problem of hundreds of version of the modern day Bible. Each was translated according to the understanding of the translators. One person may understand the meaning one way, while another person will understand it differently. On top of that, we have the problem of word usage. Modern words are affected by culture, tradition, region of the country, slang, work related terminology, and so on. In the days when the Bible was written, they had the same circumstances. This means that without careful study and research, one may end up with false interpretations. It almost sounds as though we may not be able to get the correct meanings and therefore the actual truth to which God wants us to come to an understanding.

How can we really know the truth? The Bible gives us that answer as well. In 2nd Timothy 2:15 (NASB), the Word says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” Notice the phrase at the end, “Accurately handling the word of truth.” There is a right and wrong way to “handle” the Word of God. God’s own challenge to His children is the right way, “Test Me.” To do this we have to, first

When I use the word principle, I am using this definition, “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.” This means that the principle will become my foundation in determining how I will or will not act or respond in certain situations or circumstances. For example, in Proverbs 3:7 it says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is…” The principle is, “People do what they do because they believe what they believe.” Now, with this principle I can make certain and specific decisions, and come to certain and specific conclusions. I can know that humans will always behave in some specific manner, or make similar choices, because of what they believe. So, if a person believes he is superman, he will then start dressing up in a costume with a big “S” in front of it and try to fly. Sure, they are probably crazy, but they believe what they believe, so they do what they do. In regards to believers in God, those who believe that God blesses those who tithe and give offering will then pay tithe and give an offering. If a person believes that God can be trusted, he or she will then live calmer lives, because they believe God will help them through those tough times.of all, identify what we will accept as evidence. My opinion is that we must accept the Bible itself as our foremost evidence. To accomplish this, we must study and research the various Bible versions, and make a decision which we believe is best for our use. Then, we must find, within those pages, the evidence it espouses, then study and research it. My method is to find the principles it teaches, and then put them into action, and see the results. My personal argument is that the results will tell you if what you believe about God and His Word is true or not.

Now, if the principle I mentioned above is correct, anyone can use it to make certain and specific decisions and choices in their lives. If the principle is applied correctly, it will have the expected results. This, in and of itself, will become part of the evidence which in the end will either sustain the belief that God is real or not. The beauty of using Biblical principles as evidence is that they are not dependent on our feelings or senses. They either work or they do not.

My friend decided to do some research on the question of how God created the earth and heaven. He is still researching, but he does admit one thing. If he reaches the conclusion that the Bible is correct about how God created the heaven and the earth, he had some rather big changes to make in his idea of reality. But what about you dear reader, how do you know what the truth is?

sky

Savior, But Not Lord!

Not long ago, while counseling a client, I came to a conclusion I had not thought about before. The client was struggling with “trying” to follow the process I counseled, but kept failing. The client was struggling with the desire to view pornography and the desire to be a “good” Christian, at the same time. He and I began the counseling months ago with exploring various possibilities of why he got started and why he continues. Each aspect we discovered and dealt with helped him to understand another part of his character, and cause him to become more determined to change. Though he would have success, he would also fail again. We were almost to the point of running out of probable answers, when I received an inspiration from the Lord.

Before I explain, let me make one point clear, there are no “good” or “bad” Christians. There are just Christians who are in the process of change and growth. They are not responsible for changing themselves, that is the Lord’s work (Hebrews 12:2 (AMP), ”… Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].”) Our job, as it were, is only to obey Him. As we obey, we change. Little obedience, little change. Big obedience, big change.

Now back to my earlier point. I received an inspiration from the Lord regarding what was happening to the client. I could tell he was serious in his efforts to curb the watching of pornography, but I could also tell he could not understand why he still chose to do it.

untitledhi3“When Jesus died on the cross,” I explained to him, “one of the things He accomplished was giving us liberty. That means complete freedom to do as we choose, right or wrong.”

Galatians 5:1 (NASB), “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” We used to be under the power of Sin, and therefore we would not do what is right, because it had a hold on us and moved us to do so. The death of our Lord on the cross set us free from the bondage of Sin, and we do not have to continue doing what is not right. On top of that, as you can see from the Galatians verse, we are told not to “be subject” (which means to not put ourselves under the control) of Sin again. This clearly means that we have a choice to stay free or go back to slavery under Sin. At the same time it also shows that we have been given freedom to choose. This means the freedom to choose to disobey God as well. Freedom is not freedom, until it is freedom (the complete liberty to make our own choices). If God is controlling our choice about something, then we do not have the freedom to choose.

When God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth,” in Genesis 1:26 (NASB), I believe that the “likeness,” referred to there, includes the ability to (as God can) freely choose to obey or not to obey. The only way we truly seem “god-like” (as in “Our image”) is that we can actually choose to disobey the creator and Lord of this universe. When the Christ died on the cross, He did not take away our freedom to disobey, He freed us from the power of Sin, which used this ability against us to get us to choose not to do what is right. But, I contend, that the Messiah maintained that freedom when He freed us from Sin, as pointed out in the Galatians verse above. Notice also the following argument made in Galatians 5:13 (NASB).

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Notice the wording here, “do not,” as in, “You have the power to do or not do.” The Lord would not tell us (through Paul) that we could keep our freedom from turning into “an opportunity for the flesh,” if we could not make the decision (have the freedom) to do so. God has given us a gift that is beyond my words to express the greatness and unfathomable measurement of it. In essence, and to a point, it gives us the ability to go beyond the control of God, as no other creation of His can. Though He is God, Creator and Lord, over all of the creation, He has chosen to limit Himself to this certain aspect of the human condition; we have self-will (complete freedom to choose not to do what is right), and the Lord did not take that away on the cross.

In fact, 1 Peter 2:16 (NASB) shows as much. In that verse, “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God,” we are told to “use” our freedom. Only free people can “use” their freedom, and, if they are not able to choose the manner in which they use this freedom, they are not truly free. When Jesus set us free through His death on the cross, it was for true freedom; the liberty to live and choose as we want. Right or wrong, we are to make that choice.

I explained to my client that this was part of the problem he was struggling with. He was expressing his freedom, even from God Himself. He may have accepted Christ as his Savior, but he had never accepted Him as his Lord. The Apostle Paul understood this clearly. In 1 Corinthians 10:23 (AMP), “All things are legitimate [permissible—and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life]. Notice the words carefully, “We are free to do anything we please.” Yes, that’s right, anything, but not all things are good for us.

The problem my client was having, was that he still had “rights.” He still saw himself as this free Christian who could do as he pleased. And, isn’t that what the Christ wanted for him anyway, freedom? Of course He did, but not to do what is not the right thing. Remember, as it says in James 4:17 (NASB), “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” The word “sin” here means to fail to do the right thing. See the words? “Knows,” and “does not do.” These are clear indicators that the person is in full control of their decision. They have freedom; the liberty to do what is not right.

So what’s the answer? The simple answer is accept Him as your Lord. Reread 1 Peter 2:16 again, and you will run into the phrase “bondslave.” What is a “bond-slave?” Well in Peter’s time, when people owed more money than they were able to pay off, they would either be taken into slavery, or volunteer to become slaves, until the debt was paid off. Some people owed so much that they would often be someone’s servant for many years. Every once in a while, some of the slaves would serve enough time to be set free, and the debtor (master) would inform them and tell them they could leave. In some cases, the freed people would consider their circumstances. While they were slaves, the owner provided all their food, their clothing, a place to live, in some cases even took care of the wives and children, paid all the bills, and so on. If they left, freely, they would have to get jobs, find a place to live, pay rent or mortgage, buy their own food and clothing, basically meet all their own needs. In many cases, they chose instead to remain slaves to the master. They rationalized that being his slave was better than being free.

This is what the Apostles Paul, Peter, and the rest came to understand. That being free was not what is was cut out to be. Freedom meant that you would probably choose not to do what is right. They may not have done this specifically, but I believe they weighed the differences in their hearts, if not in their minds. I can use this freedom which the Christ has given me, and I can make all my own choices, decisions, live as I believe is the right way to live, and obey the instructions I believe are right. I may “sin” once in a while, but I have already been forgiven of all my sins anyway. Or…

I can give up my freedom. I can acknowledge Christ Jesus as my Lord, and willingly become His “slave.” In which case, He will decide what I want, and when I will want it, what I am to choose, how I am to feel, what I am to believe, and who I am to be. I will become His servant in ministering to other people. I will become His eyes, His mouth, His hands, His feet, and His heart, when it comes to fulfilling His plans. I believe that the Apostles chose a life of “slavery” (bond-slaves) rather than to live a life of freedom, because this was what God wanted from them.

I told my client, God wants you to accept Him as your Lord. He wants you to willingly choose to become His “slave.” He wants you to give Him control over your life so that He can keep on with the work of changing you. My client asked, “Will that mean I won’t sin anymore?” “No,” I said, “Humans “sin,” as you say, just because we are human. Humans will always struggle with failure and error. This is “sin” too, just not the kind you are thinking about.” James 4:17 says that “sin” is when someone knows the “right thing to do and does not do it.” This means that even when we are trying to do the right thing, and get it wrong, or do not do it perfectly, we have sinned (we failed or erred). On the other hand, there is the other kind of “sin.” This is where we willingly choose to do the wrong things. To get to this point, the person must first not do the “right thing.” The “right thing” in this case is to obey God. If we choose to disobey God, we then will be able to choose to do all the wrong we want. If we choose to obey God (be His slaves and let Him do the choosing) then we take away our ability to do what is wrong. The two concepts cannot continue at the same time, in the same person. If we choose one, then, and therefore, we choose against the other. We will either live as though we have rights, or live as though we are servants of God.

“So,” he said to me, “If I make God my Lord, and place myself under His control, then I won’t do wrong against Him?” “Yes,” I said to him, “If you give up your freedom to Him, allow Him to make your decisions for you, and if you obey His instructions, you will never do wrong against God.”

All Christians have accepted Christ Jesus as their Savior, but too many have yet to accept Him as their Lord. How about you? Have you?

Life Sucks and Then You Die!

Great title, right? It got your attention. But more important than that, to many people that is the truth. Life has not been good for many thousands, if not millions or people worldwide. All that anyone has to do is turn on the news channel and you will hear of atrocities, death, violence, war, terrorism, and so on. Bullying is rampant in American schools. The suicide rate among teenagers is high. Husbands batter and abuse their wives. The war of drugs is losing. The President of the United States, in my opinion, is a racist. Neither the Republican Party, nor the left-wing liars of the Democratic Party have real answers. Criminals use guns to kill people, and the gun-haters want to take weapons away from those who obey the law. A single court (the Supreme Court) overthrows the votes of many millions of voters and stuffs an undesired lifestyle down their throats. The police are seen as the enemy and criminals are defended by the public. And that is just some of what is happening today. Other than all of that, life is great!

violenceNo wonder anxiety and stress is becoming a growing problem. A person who walks into a building full of children and kills many of them is the symptom of a real and mostly ignored problem in these United States. We quickly excuse the situation as that of mental illness, evil, terrorism, and other such terms. The problem is that we ignore the most likely reason: frustration.

It is one thing to demand something you have never had, it is another to lose something you have always had. The political climate in the United States, at present, lends itself to the manifestations of violence and further acts of aggression. As long as we continue to ignore the truth, we will be condemned to suffer the consequences. People who find no recourse for their frustrations will too many times take aggressive steps, which could include violence, to vent their sentiments.

The recent shooting of the reporter, cameraman, and guest on live television is just one more example. The talking heads on the news channels spouted words like, “crazy,” “evil,” and “deranged,” when speaking of the murderer, but seemed completely clueless of the real and underlining possibility for the motivation of the killer. Regardless of the fact that his actions were wrong and disastrous, the bits of information which started coming out about him pointed in the same direction: frustration.

Humans are selfish. We were born that way. It is in our nature to look out for ourselves. It is only by maturity that people learn little-by-little to become more selfless. Selfishness has its positive side. Due to that we care for ourselves. We eat what we enjoy, we make time for ourselves, we strive for happiness, we care for those we love, and so forth. This level of selfishness is good and produces positive and healthy results. It is when selfishness is carried to the extreme that it becomes something ugly. When we are willing to benefit from something to the point that others lose or get hurt is when selfishness becomes dangerous and hurtful.

[In their minds, there was no other recourse, to them, they had tried what they could to get their point across and show why they were right and others were wrong.]

The dictionary gives one definition of selfish as: (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. In the context of the first part of the definition, selfish means that someone who is being selfish does not care that others may be harmed as a result of his or her actions. But, if we take the second context and carefully look at it, we can see that someone may be act in their own favor without necessarily harming others in any way. For example, if I decide to eat two hamburgers today, instead of maybe sharing one of them with someone else, I am harming no one, nor am I necessarily being inconsiderate. As well, what if I am a rich man, and want to share my money with others, but I want to benefit from sharing with them? I am being selfish, and still benefitting others.

In this last context, God is selfish. He wants things His way. He will not allow exceptions, things must be done His way, and if we choose not to do things His way, He will exert His power to ensure that His will is done regardless. He has His plans, and He will not permit them to be changed, modified, or stopped. God wants what God wants, and He will do everything according to what He thinks is best, without considering anyone else’s opinion. Notice Ephesians 1: 4 and 11.

We are like God in this aspect. We want things to be the way we want things to be. This is just human nature. It does not either make us bad or good. We work things to our own “good” throughout our lives. Our goal (selfish or selfless) is to “live long and prosper” as a character in the popular television series “Star Trek,” once said. We want to be happy, we want those we love to be happy, and we don’t want anything to change that, especially not something which would harm us in any way. But, what happens when something does harm us, when we unfairly lose something we have always had, or when we are deprived of something that is supposed to be our right? Well, we become angry.

Desperate BusinessmanFrustration leads to anger. It is the direct result of this sense of unfairness which is the result when we have no recourse to release frustrations. The murder of those people on live television is but a tiny example of what is happening in the world today. The earth is pregnant with the frustration of unfairness. Take for example, the Middle East. The little country of Israel is surrounded by large Islamic countries. Their hatred of Israel is based on their perspective that the Israelites are occupiers of stolen land. The Palestinians are the best example in this mess, from their point of view, something that they have always had was taken from them to be given to those who did not already have it. The wants of the few outweighed the needs of the many. To make matters worse for them, the United Nations, with the United States and England primarily endorsing the effort, their country gets chopped up into pieces and the “invaders” are supported by the world powers. Instead of defending the Palestinians from invasion and occupation, the very resource which should have been there to help countries from such an invasion, aligned instead with the invaders. Then, when Iraq invades Kuwait, those same powers come out in force to defend the small country and repels the invaders. From the point of view of the Palestinians, where is the justice and fairness? What are they told to do? Accept it.

[Nothing that you read in this article should be understood as me excusing, justifying, or condoning anyone’s illegal behavior or actions. My goal is to present an argument for understanding the growing problems associated with frustration in our society.]

Frustration has been evident in many of the shootings and criminal actions of late. Blacks rioted in Ferguson and destroyed their own community; the result of lingering frustration. The shooters at Columbine had reportedly been the victims of bullying, and in their frustration chose to use violence as the only recourse for them. Any search of the internet will produce many cases of people returning to their last place of employment and killing fellow employees. Why? Frustration. In their minds, there was no other recourse, to them, they had tried what they could to get their point across and show why they were right and others were wrong. The question here is not whether they were in actuality right or wrong, the question is what can we do about their frustrations?

I mentioned the decision by the Supreme Court above, and I want to touch on that subject again as another example. Millions of people in several states voted against same-sex marriage. This has been a hot issue for many years, it is something extremely important and personal to many citizens of these United States. It is possible that with time, these very same citizens would have voted for same-sex marriage, but not today. Along with this, there is an underlining belief that the vote of the American citizen is sacred and valuable, and a right which cannot be taken away. The decision by the Supreme Court violated that right. It did away with the legitimate votes of millions with just one simple declaration. What all Americans have always had (the right to have the vote of the majority win), has been displaced and removed. We all know now, from that fateful day and on, that the legal vote of the majority of the citizenry can be ignored if someone with enough power dos not like it. What we have always had (the sanctity of marriage) has been taken away from us, and what others never had (the legal right to marry) has been given to them in disregard of the majority’s opinion. And, to make matter worse, we can do nothing legal about it. How frustrating!

As a counselor, I encounter this anger all the time. People are frustrated because of circumstances in their lives. Wives complain of husbands who do not keep their word. Husbands complain of wives who “want to change” them. Church members complain of pastors who “lord it over” them. Children complain of parents who exasperate them. Adult children complain that their parents love the other adult child more. People complain that God should have done this or not done that. Many clients have high expectations of what life should have been like, only to realize that life “sucks” for everyone. The Victim Mentality is prevalent in our society, and it shows no possibility of lessening. The politically-correct mentality infringes on the healthier way of managing our lives and relationships, producing less healthy, co-dependent, weaklings who want life to conform to their standards. “Life,” as such, conforms to no one. We either will take responsibility for ourselves, or we will suffer the consequences: frustration.

As a counselor, my job is to help someone find answers which will work in their life, to resolve, and hopefully eliminate, their immediate and long-term problems. To accomplish this, I need to understand the problem. I have always believed that the answer to any problem will be found in the problem itself. The better I understand what the problem is, the closer I am to a solution. When it comes to frustration, though, there seems to be an added challenge; the answer may not be available.

The “answer” for the Middle East “problem” is the removal of Israel, and elimination of all interference by foreign powers regarding the progress of Islamic countries. That is a solution which will not be forthcoming. The West, especially the United States, will not turn its back on Israel. It is has great strategic value to the US, besides the treaty we have with them (I support Israel, by the way). So the result for the Moslems is frustration, and the result of that frustration is anger.

Oftentimes, clients will hide their frustration. The result will be pent up anger, which they will disguise as victimization. They are so frustrated with circumstances (a misbehaving husband or wife, for instance) that they view the problem as one of injustice (I am being treated unfairly), so they respond as victims (something must be done about this), and when they have tried “everything” they will have only two options: accept defeat or fight back.

For those of you, dear readers, who argue that someone just has to accept what they cannot change and go on with their lives, consider this scenario.

One day foreign forces invade and occupy a US territory, let’s say Hawaii. The invading army takes control of the state government and imposes martial law, effectively stripping every Hawaiian of their legal rights. The Hawaiians have two choices: 1) Accept that they are now governed by a foreign power, and go about their business as an occupied people, or 2) Fight for their freedom. Which would you want these people, the Hawaiians, our fellow citizens, to do?

WarAfter a truncated effort by the United States government to demand that the invading force remove its army, we would launch such an attack which would likely leave the world spinning its head with the rapidity of our response. Violence would be the answer to the frustration produced by the actions of a foreign power.

One of my research studies, that of the behavior of men who physically abuse their wives, produced several interesting points of consideration. My main focus was on why these men chose to be violent with these women they allegedly loved. You would imagine that they would instead choose to keep their arguments limited to words rather than opting to attack their spouse. My research included myself. For the first six years of my marriage to my wife, I physically (as well as emotionally) abused her.

Without justifying anything, I asked the right question, “What was at the core of this behavior?” Why was it that these men resorted to violence? As I studied and researched, and better understood the problem, I came to some conclusions.

First, let me share what is not the answer: labeling. Resorting to labeling the men as abusers, crazies, evil, batterers, sick, and so on, helped in no manner, and only served to cloud the issue. Labelling people puts them into a category, and doing so helps others to just cast them away as useless. Indeed, some men who are violent are crazy, some are mentally unstable, and some are just plain confused about how to deal with any relationship, so they choose violence. But, the greater number are not such, these men are those who reached a point of frustration which tells them they have no other option but violence. In their minds they have “tried everything,” and it didn’t work, so they resorted to violence. The sad thing is that the violence actually works, to a point.

[Of course, the better answer is for people to learn to “accept those things we cannot change,” as the Serenity Prayer goes, but that does not help with the problem in any manner. Why? Because some things should not be accepted.]

Take Julio for example, Julio and Rosa got married on their 20th birthdate. Yes, they have the same birthdate, year and everything, but he is four hours older. Rosa was the youngest of four kids, and Julio was the oldest of three. Rosa’s parents fought often and separated at least three times according to her memory, and Julio’s dad died when he was 11, from a car accident.

When Rosa was 10 years old, her uncle started molesting her and this lasted for almost three years. When she told her mother that her uncle (the mom’s brother) was molesting her, the mom punished her for “lying,” and told her never to mention that again. Julio grew up with the knowledge that you could easily lose the people close to you, so he developed the need to try to control those around him. When he could do that, he felt safer.

By the time that they got married, Rosa had develop a need to have males approve her, which made her a target for men who took advantage of her at times. Julio, on the other hand, grew to learn that even the threat of violence was enough to get people to comply.

Julio and Rosa fell “in love,” and decided to get married. Julio could find no fault in Rosa, and she saw only strength in him. The very things that drew them together were the things that started to divide them.

Rosa’s neediness made her clingy and codependent on Julio, and his defensiveness pushed her away. The more she wanted from him, the more fearful he became because he did not know how to handle her neediness. She would make demands on him, and he would scream at her to back off. The more he insisted that she back off, the needier she felt and the greater the demands.

Julio’s mind told him that she was not listening to him, because if she was she would understand and agree with him. At first he would just argue with her, later he started yelling at her, and after a time, he started threatening her. Her lack of expected response created in Julio a frustration as he had not experienced before. His mind told him that what he was doing was not only not working, but that it would never succeed. During one of their more spirited arguments, he snapped and hit Rosa. The lie he believed was that he had no other option, because he “had tried everything.”

Most men who physically abuse their wives fall into this category (if you like) of why they use violence against their spouses. In their minds, they believe that they have run out of options.

Again, this does not excuse them, but it can help us to understand the dynamics of frustration.

In his book, “Understanding Conflict And War: Vol. 3: Conflict In Perspective, Chapter 3 – Frustration, Deprivation, Aggression, And The Conflict Helix,” R. J. Rummel says, “Moreover, we are often unable to satisfy our desires or accomplish our goals. Sometimes our ambitions exceed our abilities, or we misperceive the possibilities. But sometimes we are blocked by an external barrier that precludes gratification. This may be a traffic jam preventing us from reaching an appointment, a college rule prohibiting us from taking a particular course, an amorous neighborhood tom cat interrupting our sleep, or our race restricting professional advancement. Whatever the barrier, we are frustrated. All of us are so frustrated from time to time.”

“In addition, we all have experienced irritation and anger at some frustrations. A long line preventing us from seeing an eagerly awaited movie, a crush of shoppers hindering the purchase of some simple necessities, a slow driver obstructing a narrow road, probably have aroused in all of us that familiar flush of annoyance, even anger. That frustration of our desires and goals occasionally leads to anger is a commonplace. It is subjectively unquestionable — a fact of our existence.”

We get frustrated because we get stuck. We cannot move forward, and we cannot change things. We feel deprived, and that only emphasizes the unfairness of the situation.

Of course, the better answer is for people to learn to “accept those things we cannot change,” as the Serenity Prayer goes, but that does not help with the problem in any manner. Why? Because some things should not be accepted. Racism, violence, injustice, and other similar things should never be acceptable under any guise. Those things are wrong and must be eliminated, or at least suppressed. In those cases aggression is understood, if not actually condoned. But, what usually results is that those who witness such aggression, as in the case of the shooter of the television crew, refuse to consider the possibility that it was simple frustration which may have prompted the killer. To consider that his motive, distorted as it may have been, was that he became frustrated because he believed that the system failed him. In his own mind, he may have reached the point where he had no other option available to him that seemed as though it would help him achieve his goal.

[“The anger induced by frustration, however, is a motivating force that disposes men to aggression, irrespective of its instrumentalities. If frustrations are sufficiently prolonged or sharply felt, aggression is quite likely, if not certain, to occur.”]

Many of my clients, in these 28 years of counseling, have been at that same point. They may not have decided that killing someone else was the answer, but many of them were at their wits end when they came to see me. In many cases, I strongly believe, many of them were able to come to an acceptable acceptance of their circumstances. I was able to help them find another answer, not the one they believed to be the fairest, just, or correct one, but one they decided to live with.

I am aware of one client, many years ago, who even after counseling with me, and another qualified counselor, still succumbed to his frustrations and he killed his wife in front of their children.

Pay attention to the news, the people in your life, and those nearest to you, and you will find examples of people struggling with frustrations.

Further in his writing, R. J. Rummel, said this, “It is remarkable that those who are most deprived, most oppressed, most in need, are not those who usually violently rebel. Of course there have been food riots and peasant uprisings, but most often revolutions and violence have occurred when conditions are better or have been improving, and among those who are not the most deprived.

Explanations vary but generally focus on two propositions. First, deprivation is subjective, a function of a person’s perception, needs, and knowledge. To nail deprivation to an objective or absolute lack of something such as freedom, equality, or sustenance, is to ignore that definitions of these shift according to historical period, culture, society, position, and person.”

“However, some internal norms or standards, some benchmarks, against which to assess deprivation are still required. The second proposition, therefore, deals with these norms. It asserts that we take our presently perceived or expected position, achievements, gratifications, or capabilities as a base of comparison against our wants or needs, or what we feel we ought to have. The gap between wants or oughts and gratifications or capabilities is then our deprivation, or relative deprivation in the sense that it depends on our base of comparison.”

In other words, just because someone else is able to brush off an injustice or mistreatment, and “bury the hatchet,” is no indication that it is the norm. We, each of us, decides in our own minds what is acceptable and unacceptable in our lives. One person may accept slavery, and the next one will fight it with all their might. One person may accept racism, and the other will openly demonstrate aggression against it. One person may accept that they have been rejected, and the other will go into a building full of children and kill as many as he can.

Another writer put it this way. “In summary, the primary source of the human capacity for violence appears to be the frustration-aggression mechanism. Frustration does not necessarily lead to violence, and violence for some men is motivated by expectations of gain. The anger induced by frustration, however, is a motivating force that disposes men to aggression, irrespective of its instrumentalities. If frustrations are sufficiently prolonged or sharply felt, aggression is quite likely, if not certain, to occur. To conclude that the relationship is not relevant to individual or collective violence is akin to the assertion that the law of gravitation is irrelevant to the theory of flight because not everything that goes up falls back to earth in accord with the basic gravitational principle. The frustration-aggression mechanism is in this sense analogous to the law of gravity: men who are frustrated have an innate disposition to do violence to its source in proportion to the intensity of their frustrations ….” – Gurr, 1970:36-37.

Religious Abuse

Roy GomezBy Rev. Roy G. Gomez

The definition of Religious and Spiritual Abuse.

Religious abuse refers to abuse administered under the guise (concealing the true nature of something) of religion including harassment or humiliation, possibly resulting in psychological trauma. Religious abuse may also include misuse of religion for selfish, secular, or ideological ends such as the abuse of a clerical position. Wikipedia.org

 Spiritual abuse just as emotional abuse affects one emotionally, while physical abuse inflicts pain and bodily injury on its victim, spiritual abuse affects one spiritually. It is the result of a spiritual leader or system that tries to control, manipulate, or dominate a person. This control is often in the form of fear. This is considered a major factor in mind control/coercive (relating to or using force or threats) persuasion or thought reform. There are those who feel the latter comes into play in cases such as these, while others feel the thinking is in error. Regardless of where one stands on this, it does not lessen the effects of spiritual abuse.

David Johnson & Jeff Van Vonderen, co-authors of “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse,” describe the action: “It’s possible to become so determined to defend a spiritual place of authority, a doctrine or a way of doing things that you wound and abuse anyone who questions, or disagrees, or doesn’t ‘behave’ spiritually the way you want them to. When your words and actions tear down another, or attack or weaken a person’s standing as a Christian- to gratify you, your position or your beliefs while at the same time weakening or harming another- that is spiritual abuse.”

Does leadership in the church demand you consult with them (or your discipler) before making major decisions or any decisions at all? Has leadership forbidden you to go on vacation or spend time with someone (particularly one who has left the church group)?

Do you find yourself periodically questioning your spirituality or standing with God? Have you been preoccupied with checking out others in the congregation to see who is living up to the rules and who isn’t?

Are extra-biblical rules and standards equated as coming from God, with your salvation or spirituality linked to following them? Do you find that cutting or not cutting your hair has now become an indicator of your spirituality and a means of protection for your family?

Has the initial joy you felt when first coming to know the Lord been replaced with worry? Do you feel you’re not doing enough or are not good enough and can’t live up to what is expected? Are you worried God has sent you a spirit of delusion?

Do services uplift and give strength or do you feel sad, beaten down, or depressed afterward? Has your view of God changed to where he is seen as a harsh taskmaster, eagerly waiting for you to mess up so he can chastise you or leave you behind? © 1997 – presented by Lois E. Gibson

Who are the people who tend to fall victims to this?

I was not able to find in the area of race, class or gender; as to who falls as victims to Religious or Spiritual Abuse. In my years of ministry I could not say that there is an economic, social, race, or gender group – but from each group they are mistreatment to someone who is in the dire need of spiritual help out of his or her unbearable and bitter life experiences.

Normally we tend to seek help from God when we are in difficulty. In a search of God, we reach to religious places like temples, churches or mutts where -few times- we come across real unscrupulous (dubious) elements, those disguised themselves as the representative of God. They emotionally blackmail the needy by misusing of a position of power (like pontiff), leadership, or influence to foster the selfish interests of someone else other than the individual who needs help.

Such mischievous elements prey upon needy person’s genuine intension of seeking help from God or the almighty power. They purport their advice to be the ‘most appropriate’ advice in that critical life situation. Abuse occurs because of legitimate personal needs that are being met by illegitimate means. Spiritually abusive religious systems are sometimes pretended as legalistic, mind controlling, spiritual healing systems and religiously helpful to work out solution in your life problem.

Why are they more susceptible to this malady (1. a disease or disorder of the animal body; 2. an unwholesome or disordered condition) than other people?)

Abuse is a complicated affliction, affecting people of all ages, intelligence levels, and backgrounds. It’s hard to tell what causes some people to be more prone to abuse than others; it’s usually a mix of many factors, from family background, genetics, and environment, stress, and personality traits.

People who were abused or picked on are prone to suffer more as they lose all their self-confidence and esteem in that grueling bullying. Bullying is the most damaging strategy after torture.

You don’t only use knives and daggers only to kill someone, just demean and harass, and you might end up killing an innocent.

Bullying that happens early on, leaves an indelible mark on the child’s brain. He starts to feel useless, incompetent and victimized, losing all strength of bouncing back. If anyone gets in that rut, how do you expect them to construct their life back?

Life for normal people is so complicated and full of challenges let alone for someone who has been dished out the most damaging attitude of being a loser. This is an ongoing issue in the church as a whole. It’s a worldwide problem and across all religious denominations.

What are the symptoms of these victims?

Salvation Redefined – Spiritually abusive ministries continually redefine salvation. This keeps the bar moving higher and higher so that followers must stay dependent on the intercession, wisdom, and power of the leader. Healthy leaders, on the other hand, communicate a clear biblical gospel of salvation by grace through faith. God’s plan of salvation never changes.

Deification of Leaders – While few spiritually abusive leaders overtly claim divinity, in practice they act as if they are godlike. For example, the leader may say that he or she speaks for God. That God works exclusively through his or her ministry, or that followers can please God by pleasing the leader. Healthy leaders, however, avoid putting themselves in the place of God.

 Exhaustion – Spiritually abusive ministries exhaust their followers through high commitment and endless demands on time and service. If you always feel exhausted after church—or if your church life seems one continuous demand on your time with never a chance to rest—you may live in a spiritually abusive system. Healthy churches and leaders understand the need for rest and personal time. After all, even God rested on the seventh day.

Sacrificial” Giving – Spiritually abusive ministries regularly call for sacrificial giving of time, talents, and treasure. The Bible knows little of this. Instead, the New Testament calls for generous and cheerful giving (2 Cor. 8 and 9). While God does sometimes call us to give sacrificially, this is between us and the Holy Spirit. For example, the Philippians gave sacrificially and amazed even the Apostle Paul. But no person can demand such sacrifice, and certainly not on an ongoing basis. Healthy churches teach biblical giving which is based on generosity and freewill, not coercion or guilt.

Punishment – Spiritually abusive groups use church discipline passages as an excuse to punish current members or to shun ex-members. They use church discipline to keep people in line, to quell disagreement (which they call “rebellion”), and as a threat against critical thinking (which they call “pride”). They also overreact to small sins or minor behavioral issues and bring the full weight of church discipline against people who actually just need time to mature. Leaders of these groups misunderstand the purpose of church discipline, which is restorative, not punitive. Spiritually abusive groups also misinterpret the warning passages in the book of Hebrews—they claim that people who leave their select group have left the faith. In contrast, healthy leaders use church discipline only in serious matters of major unrepentant sin. And they understand that the goal of such corrective measures is restoration, not punishment.

Who are the typical abusers of this malady?

 I have found that it is an out of control problem cause by adult – males, females. In over 30 years of ministry and innumerable counseling sessions I have dealt with similar situations.

Often, people — especially church goers — Religious and Spiritual Abuse does not happen within committed Christian. But nothing could be further from the truth. After observing destructive relationships, being involved and being a victim.  I have discovered these several characteristics traits, actions – that are most often exhibited by abusers. Remember that males can be abused by females, but the victims are predominately female.

 Charming, Jealous, Manipulative, Controlling, Narcissistic – He/she is the master, Inconsistent, Critical, and Disconnected – isolate his victim from family and friends so that you are totally dependent on him. Hypersensitive – flies off the handle for the slightest infraction, vicious and cruel.

 What drives the abusers?

Spiritual abuse is the misuse of a position of power, leadership, or influence to further the selfish interests of someone other than the individual who needs help. Sometimes abuse arises out of a doctrinal position.

At other times it occurs because of legitimate personal needs of a leader that are being met by illegitimate means. Spiritually abusive religious systems are sometimes described as legalistic, mind controlling, religiously addictive, and authoritarian. Freddie Garcia – Victory Outreach Inc.

What are the stats of religious abuse in the United States?

 I was not able to obtain a clear answer to the Religious/ Spiritual Abuse Question. Research seem to avoid the question.

Most churches in the United States have an average church attendance of around 500 adults, 125 children. Most congregations are dominated by married adults, so in this “average church,” there are 200 married couples, 275 women and 225 men, 64 girls and 61 boys. This means that in this church:

 At least 40 marriages are abusive. Studies show that anywhere from 20%-35% of all intimate relationships are abusive, and many are physically violent. Physical abuse is not the only form abuse can take, and other types of abuse are just as damaging.

As many as 20 women are being consistently raped by their husbands. Studies performed by Susan Estrech and Diana Russel indicate that 10% of married women describe most of their sexual encounters with their husbands as non-consensual.

It is possible that there are 9 child sexual abuse perpetrators in this church, since 30% of all child sexual abuse perpetrators are close family relatives– usually male relatives, although in 9%-14% of cases the pedophile is a woman. Another 30% of the time the perpetrator is another, older, minor.

That’s a possible 256 people– 40% of this “average” congregation— who have been violently wounded by some kind of horrific abuse.

Defeating the dragon – Posted on February 13, 2014 by Samantha Field.

Rev. Roy Gomez is a state licensed counselor, as well as a certified Faith-Based Christian Counselor. Rev. Gomez has worked in the field as a mentor and counselor for drug addicts for many years. He works as a Care Manager at Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance - MDHA - The Bridge. He majored in Social Work Major, with a Substance Abuse minor.

Are You Preaching or Training?

Self-Discipline

TRAIN UP

To “train” someone:

“to give the discipline and instruction, drill, practice, etc., designed to impart proficiency or efficiency.1”

  • Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

The word, “child” obviously means a child, that is a boy or girl. But the context allows for including “new Christians,” in the interpretation, as God refers to us a His children. (See Galatians 4:28, Ephesians 5:1, Hebrews 12:8, 1 Peter 1:14, 3 John 1:4)

As pastors and Bible teachers, included in our intentions for those we teach, we must desire to train them in the way that they should go. Helping people to come to know the Lord and be saved is only the first step. Training them, is what is expected of those who lead people to the Lord. God is not only interested in “saving” people, but He also wants them trained to do the work He wants done.

  • Ephesians 4:11-16 “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” Emphasis mine.

Why did God give us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers?

1. For the equipping of the saints

To equip means to furnish or provide with whatever is needed for use or for any undertaking; fit out, as a ship or army.2 This will include the skills and understanding to do the specific work that God wants from those who were trained. For example, to be a Bible teacher, to help people with their finances, to help the poor, to help those who have suffered traumas, and so forth.

2. For the work of service.

“Salvation” was the first step, but God expects people to become involved in ministering to others. We are told to “love one another” (John 15:12). “Love” in this context is not a feeling, but an action. God loved us by making a sacrifice, He ministered to us by dying on the cross. He wants His children making the sacrifice of doing something for others that is needed by those people, and not just trying to live a “good” Christian life. God is love, but He is not human love.

3. To the building up of the body of Christ.

The service that God wants from all of His children is where they learn to meets the needs of other Christians. This way, if all Christians are doing their part in service, then all Christian’s needs could be met. If all Christians are actively doing their “work” then the body of Christ (all of the saved people) will be “built up.”

4. Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God.

How long should these workers keep doing their “jobs?” Until “we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God. Many Christians are stifled in their growth in the Lord because of the problems or circumstances they face. If All Christians were to be “trained” to do their parts, and if they were to actually do them, these “problems and/or circumstances” would have little ability to interfere with the growth of these Christians.

5. To a mature man.

Why does God want these people to be ministered to? He wants them to develop and mature. Mature Christians serve through ministry. That is the real sign of maturity in a Christian, that they serve others. Maturity is not proven because someone has lots of knowledge of Biblical things. Maturity is proven in how we “love” others (the sacrifice of meeting the needs of another person).

6. To the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

How mature does God want His children to get? “To the measure of the stature.” The word stature in the Greek means “age or lifespan.” The word “fullness” speaks of something that “contains all.” So we are being told that God wants His children to mature until they are able to live and do as Christ. Jesus lived to serve others by meeting the most important need in their lives, to be rescued from certain spiritual death and given eternal life. He did not just do “good” things that He thought would please the Father, He did what the Father wanted Him to do, and only that. God wants the same for all of His children. To do what He calls them to do, not what they want to do for Him. But just maturing people is not the final objective of the Lord. There are clear benefits to maturity.

7.  As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.

God wants His children to mature enough to be able to clearly understand the Scriptures to the point that they will not be victims to lies and deceptions of people who only want to use and hurt them spiritually. Every Christian should mature enough to be able to give an explainable reason why they believe what they believe (1 Peter 3:15). Too many times we hear Christians say, “I know what I believe, but I just can’t explain it.” This is clear proof that they are actually confused about what they believe.

8. But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head.

Notice the clear statement, “We are to grow up in all aspects.” This does include knowledge of the things of God, right? But is also includes being trained in the things of God. These two are not the same thing. In the first case, we know about Christianity, in the second case, we are doing the things expected of Christians.

9. The whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies.

What is it that fits and holds the “body” together? “What every joint supplies.” Christians are the “joints” that fit and hold the body together. If all God’s children truly do their part, then the body is fitted (the Greek idea is of knitted; that is interwoven, as each part helping the other part to do its part as well). I get the picture of gears in a watch. One gear moves another gear which moves another gear, and so forth.

10. According to the proper working of each individual part.

Each gear in a watch has its own function and necessity. If one gear goes bad, the whole watch is affected and can stop functioning correctly. The same is true of the “body of Christ,” that is, we who are God’s children. If we are ALL not doing our parts, that causes other parts to have to overwork, or not work to full capacity. Then, instead of having a healthy “body” we have a malfunctioning, unhealthy, disjointed body that is too crippled to do the work that God wants it to do.

11. Causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

If every part of the body of Christ did its part, it would cause the growth of the “body.” Bay Christians are ineffective for growth in the “body.” But, mature Christians are specifically the reason for that growth. If a church is full of immature Christians, it will grow to a point, and stop growing because they are not doing their proper individual parts. This passage is clear that Christ causes the growth of the “body,” but that He uses His mature children to do the work of growing the “body.” In other words, Christ works through them, not in spite of them. If the people either will not, or cannot (due to immaturity) do their proper parts, then Christ will not “build up” the body.

So What is Training Then?

If we, those of us who are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, who claim to be mature, do our specific parts, then there is one thing we must be about doing, training the saints. You train someone by either identifying their “calling” from God, or they tell you what their “calling” is, and then you help them develop the skills and abilities to do that job.

For example if you find that one of your members has been called to teach the Word, you start by teaching them how to study their Bible. You can teach them how to do proper interpretation. You can teach them how to search out the resources that will enable them to develop skills specific to teaching the Word. You can help them learn to teach as compared to lecture people. You can take them step by step learning how to do the work, call it on-the-job-training. Too many of us think that just preaching to people will help them learn to do the work that God called them to do. This is, for the most part, untrue.

There are also many of us who ignore or avoid large parts of the Scriptures for use in training. We tend to preach from our own beliefs and experiences. We may never say the words, but we think people should ignore any part of the Word of God that does not relate directly to their salvation or daily “walk” with God. But God feels differently, He wants us to teach and train people using the whole Bible.

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

No, I am not saying that you and I should head straight to those sections that are difficult and troublesome. But, I am saying that, at the same time, we should not avoid them either. Just because you either don’t care about those parts, or that they have no immediate relevance in your preaching style and general topical selection, this by no means is a reason to not train others who may need to be trained from those parts. Remember that we must “train” the “children” (God’s children) in the way that they should go, not the wayyou think they should go. If you do not know what way they should go, then spend time with God asking Him to show you and them the right way.

Too many Christians are like the women of 1 Titus 3:7. They are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Some of these saints have been “saved” for years upon years, and are still just showing up on Sundays to get their next fix or dose to hold them over for the week. Like addicts they show up get something instead of to give something.

  • Hebrews 5:12-14 “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

During one of your sermons, ask your members to show hands on how many years they have been Christians. Ask, “How many have been saved for five years, ten years, or more?” Count the number of hands. Then count how many people in your church actually are serving others through ministry. What’s the difference in number? That’s what I thought.

I know that you are concerned with more than just how many people come to your church. If you are happy with the number of people you have, then don’t change anything. But if you want the “body” of your church to grow, not only in maturity, but in number as well, then start training them to do their proper parts so that Christ can use them to grow the “body.”

Before you become distracted, wondering who I think I am that I believe I can tell you what you should be doing, please read the following, because this is how I believe about me.

Philippians 3:12-16 “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect (learned everything there is to know), but I press on (continuing to learn) so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus (to learn to do my part in the body). Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet (I am still developing my skills and abilities); but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind (I do not concentrate on what I do not know or cannot do) and reaching forward (I keep learning and training) to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (so that I will become the fully mature man God wants me to be). Let us therefore, as many as are perfect (those who believe that they have learned all that they need to learn), have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude (if you are wrong about what you believe), God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard (to be trained and to train others) to which we have attained (called by God to do).”

May God bless you and yours, as you obey His Word.

Are Churches Training Members For Ministry?

  • Proverbs 5:23 “He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.”
  • Proverbs 10:21 “The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of understanding.”
  • Isaiah 5:13 “Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge…”
  • Isaiah 34:16 “Seek from the book of the LORD, and read…”
  • Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…”

Our churches are full of people who attend faithfully and participate in Sunday service with their songs and attentiveness. The problem is that only about ten percent of the people are active in some form of service at church (usher, teacher, choir, etc.), but even fewer are ministering in accordance with God’s calling on their lives. Ephesians 4:11-17 clearly instructs that the people be trained in accordance with their calling, so that, “By what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

God wants to grow the body of Christ; the church. This is not limited to some mental state of education or knowledge. Preaching provides people the prophetic (speaking-forth) utterings which are needed. God uses the preacher to touch on the various areas of the person’s life. Preaching fulfills much in the way of helping the person to hear from God in a manner to which the person is open at the moment. The reason we go to listen to a preacher is we expect God to reveal something to us He wants us to put into action.

This is where I believe the ball is dropped, both by the church and by the person. Each is expecting the other to make the first move. Each is expecting the other to understand what they should be doing. Each will end up blaming the other for not taking the initiative. The problem here is they are both right, and both wrong.

As a pastor/counselor/Bible teacher, I am in the presence of other pastors quite often. When I hear praise from their lips regarding members of their congregations, it is almost always for those members who volunteer and help out in the church; those who do not have to be coerced into doing something. One of the biggest complaints of many pastors is that they have to constantly remind their members that help is needed. These pastors need ushers, choir members, cleanup crews, and a bunch of other things done, and that is just during church services. Don’t even think about asking people to donate more of their time doing other things at other times, they have a life after all.

As a counselor, I see a completely different thing. Because I am a counselor, I tend to encounter people at their most difficult times. I never have anyone show up and pay the counseling fee to tell me of how wonderful things are in their lives. The believers and church members I meet in these sessions are usually not those “get up and go” types which make up the ten percent who are active workers. When I start to delve into their religious lives, I seem to always run into some “void.” The “void,” for the great majority of these people, turns out to be a lack of knowledge of what God wants from them specifically.

They hear all the sermons, they even listen to some of them, and they may apply some of the ones they understood. The problem is not just that they don’t apply the teachings from the sermons, it is that they wouldn’t even know how, should they actually want. Just because the sermon was eloquent, spiritual, and “clear,” it does not mean the listener received or understood the message. Preachers tend to self-deceive by thinking that people are really understanding, because one or two persons give them accolades regarding the sermon. They (the preachers) convince themselves that they are being successful at actually motivating the congregation.

The biggest complaint from church members is preachers tend to be long-winded but say very little of practical use. Usually their concern stems from not being sure of the motives of the speaker for the particular message. The preacher may believe He is sharing life-changing truths which will have immediate effect on the listeners, while the listeners may be wondering how long he will be preaching, because they forgot to turn off the beans on the stove. Some preachers think the way to get people to do something is to keep repeating the same old sermons until their listeners get tired of hearing them and get moving.

For example, one Sunday morning I visited a local church where the pastor preached on giving. The church had been going through a decline of members and the finances had declined as well. The pastor was struggling with meeting the financial needs of the ministry and felt pressured. That morning, the pastor seemed almost angry at the members. He scolded them for not giving more. As I listened to him, I looked around at the few remaining members of his congregation, and I could sense they were not happy, and I wondered whether they would come back to the next service. When I later spoke with the pastor, he kept going on about how his members were not applying what he was preaching. He told me he had been preaching on tithing, giving, and offering for the last two months, and instead of the finances growing, they were diminishing. The poor soul believed the way to motivate his members to give more was to badger them until they did.

As I said above, the reason we go to listen to a preacher is we expect God will reveal something to us He wants us to put into action. Sermons obviously have a valuable place in helping people learn of God’s desires for His children. But, along with the preaching and teaching, people need training. They need to be trained in the area of their “calling” from God. The job of the church is to help the person identify their calling from God, and then to provide the member with the resources to develop the skills, hone their abilities, and then provide a safe environment to practice the training in real ministry to others.

On the other hand, it is also the responsibility of the member to seek out the assistance of the church in the area of training for their calling. No believer can use the excuse that they have not responded to God’s calling because the church has not done their part. Each person is responsible to God for their own actions and inactions. Even if no one helps the person “called” by God, they must move forward while trusting God for the help they need.

Nevertheless, the church must self-evaluate and see if they are providing the training, or at least the resources for getting the needed training. Most people who attend church do so because they want to go to a weekly meeting where they “hear” from God, and then they live their normal, regular, lives, until the next church meeting. Many of those will have no problems with a little volunteer work at the church during service, but in many instances, they will not be active in any type of ministry throughout the rest of the week.

Most churches just hope their people will hear the sermons and just start doing something. Churches need to take proactive steps. I have included some suggestions which, in my humble opinion, will help to comply with God’s Word, and produce mature and active people who will get busy about God’s calling on their life through personal ministries.

  1. The church should create and implement a process by which they help members identify their calling from God.
  2. Once the calling is identified, the church should help the member identify resources which may be used to develop personal skills and strengthen abilities which will result in their becoming capable and qualified to minister to others.
  3. The church should maintain a hands-on facilitation of the training, with the purpose in mind of assuring the member the training they are getting is the appropriate one for their calling.
  4. When the member has reached a point of qualification, the church should provide an environment which will be conducive to the expectations of the training received.
  5. Once a member has demonstrated proficiency in the administration of their ministry, they should be “commissioned” by the church to do their ministry as an extension of the church body, to minister to the whole, as well as the public, where it may apply.
  6. Start on the next member.