Spiritual Abuse

Researching information for this month’s articles I ran into something, that yes, I’ve seen but it had not clicked in my mind when I thought about abuse and it’s the term “spiritual abuse” in a relationship. This relates to when a spouse uses God to control or manipulate the other spouse with the Word of God or an alleged spiritual gift or “power”

These abusers use their spouses faith and a legalistic vision of the Word of God to manipulate, control and undermine their spouses. With this behavior the enforced their authority and the victim submits to avoid consequences not only with their perpetrator but with their higher power, as they believe this is coming from God himself.

The fact that the victims are being abused will make them be more submitted as they think that they must be doing something wrong, as they continue to be criticized or chastised by their abuser. On the other hand this can hinder their faith as they would have trouble understanding why God would allow them to live in such conditions, when it’s not God, it’s the other person’s free will that is attacking them.

 

Jeremiah 23:16 says “This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.” But if this is your husband or boyfriend, how can you tell?

  • Study the Word yourself.
  • If your spirit says something is not right, it probably isn’t. Look it up before you agree to do something.
  • Pray and ask the Holy Spirit for clear direction.
  • Read the Word in context and not singling out scriptures. Sometimes just reading a few more sentences can bring clarity to the context.
  • In doubt, research. Sometimes just reading different versions of the same scripture will bring clarity to our notions.
  • Talk to other Christians (be careful about this one, you don’t want someone who is misguided as well)

If you want to identify a potential spiritual abuser, read Matthew 23:1-39 ESV Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long”

Be safe!

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Helping others in the midst of our troubles

In conversations with fellow believers I’ve heard way too often” I’m too messed up to help others with their mess”. I admit that I used to belong to this school of thought up to very recent. Ironically the other common denominator was the passionate desire of these women to serve God and others.

The enemy has done a good job pointing out each one of our mistakes to paralyze us from our destiny. We have the tendency to feel unworthy and inadequate to help others because of our life is upside down. Then we come up with the incorrect believe that as we become “perfect” or as close to it, we can then demonstrate the things that God has done in our lives and then be able to be an example. Who hired us for the God job?  God doesn’t need us to ensure his image. He is who he is and he does what he does.

Our journey lasts a lifetime and the reality is that “THE DAY” of perfection is not scheduled on earth, but in heaven. So what do we do with that?

  •  Be real -Let’s be honest with ourselves. Why are we trying to become holier that thou to feel worthy to assist others in pain. When we accepted Christ and started our recovery journey; who were those who we would be more inclined to listen to. Those who has situations or had been in situations similar to ours; who were strongly trusting God to see them through. We don’t do well with those who we don’t relate to.
  •  Share – Yes, if you have overcome some of your issues you can witness to those still in the struggle. My point is that not having arrived is not a requirement to extend to someone who is just starting the journey, of course maintaining awareness of providing support without affecting our own recovery. As it says in Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
  •  Acknowledge God– Let’s say you’ve only been working on your issues for six months. It would be unreal (if you’re really honestly working in your issues) that you have not done any progress. Everything you have attempted, either if it has been successful or it has failed; its part of your walk and God has placed those blessings or obstacles to promote your growth.

 You may be surprise how much sharing even your failures can enlighten someone else. Remember that  those small or big step God has used to guide you through your healing. 1 Peter 4:10 says ,”Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms”  The scripture says we should serve others with our God-given gifts not with our perfection skills.

Food for thought

The Joy of Sharing

Last night I had the unique opportunity to share my life testimony with my spiritual family at church. I can’t deny that it was quite a challenge. It is not easy to unveil everything you’ve done and gone through with those who you are doing life regularly, but it was also a joyful experience.

In preparation for this day, I had to remember that whatever mistakes I had done were already at the cross and that I was just sharing the Glory of God in my life. That those listening to my words had been witness to my growth and had walked with me through my healing; on the other hand any new visitors will just obtained hope that if God had forgiven me and healed me, they had a shot too.

The beauty of the experience is taking a load off. As it says in Luke 12:3  “What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”  So what better way to bring light into your life than opening yourself to the healing that comes with sharing not just your struggles but the victories that God brought into your life.

Everything in our lives should be to glorify God, so sharing allows us to do just that. To show others how that Glory of God has become to dwell in you. It reminds me of  Luke 8:16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light”

I think at the end of the night I had received more hugs than I had received in my whole life. Some people dearest to me ensured their attendance to provide support, that and the Holy Spirit gave me the strength to get through and in the aftermath it was the best experience of my life…after getting saved of course! Smile

Why I’m I writing this? To share the great experience I had last night and to encourage those who are called to share what God has done in their lives. Don’t be afraid, there’s freedom and healing in sharing and I would love for you to be part of this wonderful club.

Have you experienced something like this? I would love to hear from you!

Until then, be blessed!!

HALT

Some feelings can be lights in a dashboard alerting us of a need that needs satisfying.  The way we deal with them could determine our behaviors and finally our outcomes.  There’s an acronym that I learned, not mastered yet but working on it. H.A.L.T. stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. Just like the word halt, when any of these are present you need to stop, assess and respond to the appropriate need to avoid these feelings from affecting your mood and your surroundings.  These feelings can distort your reality, affect your perception and potentially drive you to actions that otherwise you would not have taken and that could be regrettable.

Hungry

Issue: My mother says that my father was a very pleasant person unless he was hungry, I have excused myself saying that it’s an inherited trait. That’s an honest copout. If you’re hungry, instead of being grumpy…eat! Hunger can cause our mood to change. Our blood sugar gets low and the body is sending a signal to the brain that it needs something. Hunger is merely a red light going off on your dashboard requesting your attention that something needs to be done.

Physical hunger is not the only one that can affect us. Spiritual hunger is just as detrimental. When our spirit is hungry from the word of God, we lack wisdom and connection with the Holy Spirit to make the right decisions for our lives. In John 6:35 Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”

Suggestion: Eat! I know it sounds simple, but sometimes we’re so caught into meetings or errands that we forget to eat before we know it  we’re starving. It is good to always have something available, like a fruit, a trail mix packet or a nutritional bar. At least it will get you through until you can actually have a meal.

On the spiritual side, start feeding yourself with the Word of God. Sometimes you don’t know where to start with some worship music, its usually the quickest way to get your mindset connected to then dive into prayer and bible study. “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.(Luke 4:4)

Angry

Issue:This one is simple to relate how it can affect our mood. Something makes us angry and we do, say things we later regret. Anger is a powerful emotion that we need to learn to identify and channel appropriately. Remember when we are angry, the emotion is not affecting anyone else but us. Consider Job 18:4 “You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger, is the earth to be abandoned for your sake? Or must the rocks be moved from their place?”  It doesn’t mean ignore your anger, but do consider the times that you are making mountain out of molehills. Are you really angry because of what happened or is there a deeper issue?

Everyone expresses their anger in a different way, but ignoring the irritant or not handling the situation is never the answer.

Suggestion: For some people it’s a timeout. Removing yourself from the situation can help you calm and think things rationally. For some people they need to talk things out. Having an accountability person in your life that can listen without interruptions, but that can give you some wise insight once you’ve vented can be a good source to work through these feelings. For others writing your feelings down allows you the opportunity to see things in perspective. Process your anger before acting on it. “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil” Psalm 37:8

Loneliness

Issue:The feeling of loneliness can drive us to unwise decisions. For people with addictions it can be a trigger back to their vices. The problem is that when people think of addictions they only think of substance abuse and there are way many addictions out there untreated due to this misconception. Any behavior that affects your appropriate functioning and that is having harmful consequences is a potential addiction. The so called shopping therapy, reading books for hours on end trying to hide from the world, overeating, excessive use of the internet, television, pornography, video games, unhealthy relationships (and I’m not just saying couple relationships, even some friendships can be part of an addictive relationship); these are just some example of thing that we can engage due to loneliness that will end up.

Suggestion: Keep accountability, having someone in your life that knows that you are struggling with these issues can help you sort your feelings before you act on them. Having healthy relationships can help you feel less alone.God never intended for us to do life alone. Life, although very individual, its still a group effort.  “You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.”Exodus 18:18 Filling your life with the Word of God will fill the emptiness that you may be feeling. Last but not least is service. When you feel alone you are focusing on yourself, executing acts of service not only can give you a sense of purpose, but can expose you to many fulfilling experiences.

Tired

Issue:This is another feeling that I consider to be a red light in your dashboard. Especially in our current lifestyle where we believe to be supermen and superwomen without capes, we can be under the impression and the pressure of all these life demands that can be exhausting. The reality is that being tired affects the way we process information and can cause us to make mistakes and erroneous decisions. Out of exhaustion you can give in into that thing, talking to a person or attending a place that you know its not the best for you and that could have negative results in your life.

These emotions are born in us. If you look at babies, aren’t those the reasons why they cry? Think about it, hungry, angry, lonely and tired. Abraham Maslow developed a theory in psychology based or human hierarchy of needs. His long theory can be summarized by saying that unless you meet your basic needs you can’t achieve higher levels and execute appropriately other functions.

Suggestion: Rest! You need to be honest with yourself, assess your priorities. Yes there are dishes to clean and clothes to fold, but if you’re tired you are good to nobody including yourself. Naps are an option. Look at your load and delegate or find creative ways to make your life easier. Flush the superman/woman down the drain right now, its not doing anybody any good. Those around you will enjoy you better with paper plates than screaming because of the load of dishes. Finally enjoy the refreshing rest that only He can give, by spending some time with your Savior. “The LORD replied, My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”Exodus 33:14

Blessings

Naty

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WF: Through the eyes of God

Condemnation always shows us the ugly side of the things that we’ve done in life. Thank God for redemption.

Romans 8:1
Therefore, there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus

Let’s Praise God on this Friday and remember why the sacrifice of the cross, that it was so that we wouldn’t be what we were, but to have the opportunity of a brand new life, new beginnings and unconditional love.

Blessings

WF:Worship Friday

Best Advice Ever

~day 17: the Kingdom of God is among you~
Image by theroamincatholic via Flickr

I was working on another article and read this. There’s not much to add or to say about it other than it is a great wake up call for everyone.

Galatians 5:18-24 (The Message)

“My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

   This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified”

Be blessed!

National Day of Prayer

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

All your children unite today to praise you and worship you. We thank you for your love, your mercy and your forgiveness.  Father we are grateful for your everyday provision. For everyday you give us breath, health, a roof over our heads we are thankful.

Today we ask you to protect our nation. We are grateful for those who everyday give their lives to defend our country, defend our right to peace. We pray protection over them and over their families whose lives are just as sacrificial as those in the field.

Lord forgive us for the inactivity of your body. For our refusal to move out of our comfort zones into the fields that you have called us to work. We ask you to refresh and revive our spirits. Give us your heart so that we see the pain in our brothers the way that you see it. Give us your mind so that we can purify our thoughts and work according to your purpose. Give us your wisdom so that we can make the right decision in our lives.

We ask you to protect our leaders, government and religious. These are the people called and chosen to guide our nation. They are in need of wisdom, they are in need of a compassionate heart, they are in need of a strong sense of justice that only you can provide.

We ask you for those who are suffering. Allow us to recognize their pain and give us the steps to follow to heal their wounds.

We ask you for the lost souls, that we are able to exemplify a life in Christ that they desire. Open their hearts so that they receive the invitation of the Holy Spirit. Give us boldness to preach your Word and life by it.

In closing, continue to teach us how to live our lives closer to you. That our lives become truly “ more of you and less of us” and that when the day comes we are able to celebrate the final victory with you in heaven.

In Jesus name we pray,

Amen!

Christ vs. Christians

Jesus
Image via Wikipedia

I have a few non Christian friends; some belong to other beliefs, some non active Christians (saved but not living for Christ), “spiritual” (those who know that God exists somewhere but have no desire to live for him) and some professed atheists. Ironically, we have a lot of religious conversation and to my surprise sometimes they know more about what Jesus said and his expectations than some of my own Christian friends. Some of them ask me to pray for them when they are in the middle of a situation.

In our conversations I’ve identified certain trends of why some of them are not attracted to Christianity, so I wanted to share them with my fellow believers, because they do have a point.

  • It’s not Him, it’s y’all-I’ve never heard even atheists’ bad mouth Jesus or Christ. It’s not Him who bothers them, they don’t like Christians. As soon as someone proclaims to be a Christian in front of them they form an expectation of how we should behave and we tend to fall really short in that expectation, giving us very little credibility to our words. In other words, our walk doesn’t match our talk.
  • Judgment-We are perceived to function out of judgment and not out of love. Some unbelievers are living lives that according to the Christian walk is outside of the “acceptable”. Some of them have had experiences were they have attempted to reach out to learn about Christ and have been received with judgment about how they are going to “burn in hell” for their actions instead of loving them through their circumstances.  I have to stop here and say that this happens to Christians who leave the faith as well or to some of those non active Christians that I was talking about. As humans, we can all fall short of the glory and what are we to do. Galatians 6:1 reads “’ Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” If the sin of that person is a personal struggle for you, don’t go there, the point is not for you to fall, but help directing the person to someone that can actually help, in love. If it’s a struggle for you, seek help, because it means that you have unresolved situations yourself.  Be honest about it. But how many times have people been humiliated and condemned for what they have done instead of pursuing their restoration.

We also sometimes forget how we got to the feet of Christ. I’ve been on both sides of this equation. Personally, when I became a Christian I was        very young, so I didn’t experience the redeeming life with Christ after big fallout. I was prideful. I didn’t understand why people couldn’t get it together, until I fell on my face and didn’t know how to come back. It was then when I understood mercy and grace. God placed loving people in my life to show me the way back, but those people never made me feel like I was scum and they were holy, which brings me to my next point.

  • Being genuine- Life in Christ is a journey not a destination. I think much is emphasized in the church and the rules than the relationship with God. With this I’m not saying that church and guidelines are not important or necessary, but many times we try to make people act a certain way that they are not ready to instead of loving them through the process and allowing the Word of God and their personal relationship to Jesus to flow and do the changes that GOD wants to make in a person, not the ones we want to see.

Just like a child knows when someone loves them or not, wounded people know too. If you honestly don’t love someone, don’t try to fake it, they will know and your words will mean nothing, especially if you’re saying that you love them in Christ.

  • Authenticity-Trying to fake life and present a holier than thou image just because you’re  a Christian and present that once you received Christ live was a bed of roses repels unbelievers more than anything.  When people are struggling, thinking that there’s no way that God would accept them where they are now, keeps them away from Christ.

I have a friend who has had some of my same struggles, she was key in my return to Christ because I saw how even though she had gone through, God made it happen for her. She taught me the steps to take out of the gutter and how I had believed the lie of no redemption and how God really wanted me, but she didn’t do it by Bible thumping although we did speak of the Word. She did it by sharing with me how through the Word, God spoke to her in her darkest moments.  Wait! She has dark moments being a Christian…Huh, there’s hope for me!

I knew then what to pray for and how to stand on the Word of God, because of her story. Is she perfect? No! Is she living a perfect rosy live now? No! She has a real life with the same struggles that everyone has, the difference is how she overcomes them and that inspires me to overcome mine and hang in there.

Why was this instrumental? Because even though I knew the Lord, up until that time those speaking into my life were just pointing out what I was doing wrong and how I was going to burn too if I didn’t get it together. If I, who knew the Lord couldn’t get back, how do you think someone who doesn’t know his love would feel even compelled to try?  Someone said that you may be the only bible someone reads. If you’re condemning other people’s lives, that’s what their erroneous bible is teaching them about a life in Christ.  If you’re not real with your own struggles and your own difficulties then, they will know that you’re not trustworthy and that the god that you claim to serve is just as phony as you are. Is that how you want to present Christ to others?

When this subject has come up I’ve told my friends to look at Christ and not at us, because we are human and jacked up. All I can do is try to live as genuine as possible, pray and allow God to work in their hearts and in mine (because I’m still a work in progress), because at the end of the day Salvation is a personal decision and it’s not me who saves, but He who lives in me.  So you my fellow believers are you living an authentic life or do you wear your Sunday mask every time you have to talk about Christ? Do you talk about Jesus, or do you try to live like Jesus?

Food for thought,

Blessings

Right where you are

Last week was quite unusual.  At least in the south US, things came to a halt. Airports, schools and workplaces were closed due to traffic and weather conditions and many were stranded on the streets.  It got me thinking to never underestimate the places where you were assigned to be at any moment in a situation.

Sometimes God’s places us in weird places or even alone for a purpose. You don’t know when the place where you think that you’re uncomfortable and stranded is an opportunity to witness to a person. A simple conversation that starts about a delay can end up in a healing conversationIsaiah 43:10  says“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me”

If you were like me, locked inside your house there are many things that could be done. If you have family, when was the last time that all of you spent time together? Take opportunities like this to get out, play with your children, and find out what’s going on with that teenager that’s been giving you a headache.  Use that fireplace that you’ve never used and burn marshmallows on a stick and create the perfect time for a conversation.  Look at your spouse, when was the last time that you had a romantic moment? 

If you live alone, It was a good time to rest from the craziness of life, instead of trying to craze out of the house. Contact those family members or friends who you haven’t talk to in years. Write that letter that you’ve been putting off forever.  I know I did.  Anyway, seek God and find out why in this time and in your current circumstances what is the purpose of your place, as it is no coincidence that you are where you are. (Matthew 10:29-31)

I hope you enjoyed this time in a way or another.Now that we’re back to the everyday routine, take time to evaluate how every second of your life has a purpose an enjoy your life, right there were you are. Live with purpose.  Live intentional, regardless of your surroundings

Seize the moment and live every moment with purpose to live a fulfilled life.

Blessings