Identifying Spiritual Abuse – ‘They know not what they do’

My friend who has been in active ministry for 30 years was recently delighted by an opportunity for a visit from his relatively new local church minister. This Minister had been directly involved in the running of this congregation for over 12 months, but had never visited my friend to know his life or personal circumstances. This meeting was expected to challenge and bring a fresh insight into a person he knew was visibly trying to bring change in his congregation.

Several minutes into the meet and greet, the true intention of the meeting become evident. He strongly indicated to my friend that his attendance wasn’t satisfactory (benchmarked against other attendees and the role of attendance) over the last few months and unless he improved, his role in once-a-month services he would no longer be required. To my friend this gutted him, he had been involved in active congregational life for many years and this was a low blow to his ‘spiritual calling’ he could never have predicted.

I was discouraged hearing this story by the tenacity of this person thinking they could can place judgement on others without seeking understanding my friends personal and family circumstances, heart, love and passion for Christ and his body. The worst thing is, over the last few years these stories among others, are becoming a usual occurrence as I minister to people the life of Christ. The consequences of such spiritual abuse are profound, invasive and destructive.
People, if some have reduced our Christ to a 2 hour slot on a Sunday where we sit and conform to the likeness of a stream of our religion then we truly have lost sight of our first love – our Saviour and King Christ Jesus. For those who are familiar with this behaviour, I encourage you to persist in the faith and strive toward Christ, don’t conform the the likeness of man and his expectations but to Gods – found in His Word.

I would encourage all who seek a relationship in Christ that we worship him ‘in spirit and in truth’, that is, we seek him the other 98% of our week and know that judgement man brings will be burnt up like chaff when its tested by fire!

‘Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites,[b] the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement. And God permitting, we will do so.’

– Hebrews 6:1-3

‘I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.’

– Galatians 1:6-10

I found a great article that helps identify spiritual abuse in Christian churches, a must read!

Click to access spiritualabuseprofile.pdf

Chains

 

Expanding your understanding of scripture – a sensory experience!

Typically we isolate understanding scripture to one human sense, God has given us the ability to see, hear, taste, smell and touch and I believe we can understand things deeper by using more than just one of our senses. Quite often we rely on our ministers, preachers and teaches to fullfill our sensory experience through hearing and listening. We all read scripture, but why not listen to it?

Over the last two years I have taken a keen interest in listening to scripture while driving to work and home. I have found a massive change in my understanding of scripture, my ability to focus longer while reading and obsorb more content. I would recommend that if you arnt listening to scripture in some form… your missing out on a fresh experience in Gods Word. His Word is living and real, by listening we can give full attention to what the author is saying helping us to gain a better understanding of its original context and meaning.

It is widely acknowledged that the inspirational Word was spoken and god breathed, many of the New Testament authors utalised the skills of scribes and listening diversifies the readers expression and can add greater insight.

A helpful APP I frequently use on my iphone to deliver audio books is Amazons Audible (www.audible.com)

A rich bible experience I have found extremely helpful is the award winning ‘The Bible Experience: New Testament & Old Testament inspired by the Media Group’ for more info Click Here

‘For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.’ – Isiah 55:10-11

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The Leadership Dilemma Many Sweep Under The Carpet

I was recently reading a series of articles and blog posts that continually challenge my views on leadership and hierarchy in the church. Deep down I know this to be true but many evangelical Christians today haven’t even heard of this.. let alone tried to understand its implications on their relationship with Christ Jesus.

Frank Viola touches on it here in this extract:

The N.T. notion of leadership is markedly different. As previously stated, there’s no biblical warrant for the idea that church leadership is official. Neither is there any scriptural backing for the notion that some believers have authority over other believers. The only authority that exists in the church is Jesus Christ. Humans have no authority in themselves. Divine authority is vested only in the Head and expressed through the body. Good leadership, therefore, is never authoritarian. It only displays authority when it’s expressing the mind of Jesus Christ.

The basic tasks of biblical leadership are facilitation, nurture, guidance, and service. To the degree that a member is modeling the will of God in one of those areas, to that degree he or she is leading. It’s no wonder that Paul never chose to use any of the forty-plus common Greek words for “office” and “authority” when discussing leaders. Again, Paul’s favorite word for describing leadership is the opposite of what natural minds would suspect. It’s diakonos, which means a “servant”—a person very low on the social totem pole in the 1st Century.

You can find the full explanation from Franks blog:

http://frankviola.org/2014/01/15/rethinkingleadership/

Also another great discussion on the church office and clergy/laity dichotomy:

http://frankviola.org/2012/07/17/christianleadership/

I would love to have open discussions with church leaders and prayerfully explore what Frank is saying here, I was a pastoral overseer with the baptist fold and its impact on me has been significant.

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