Personal Story of Spiritual Abuse by Eric

“Spiritual abuse is not God’s will for your life!”
 
“We thought we were the problem, for so long. We cowered in fear, shame and confusion, for so long. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.”



A public note to Eric from Julie Anne:  

Eric, A lot of people won’t like what they are reading from you.  They will say you are wrong to go public with your story.  Your story and my story has similarities.  There will be people who will accuse you of being divisive and not handling this properly.  I know you have not published your story in haste, but with much prayer and consideration.  Your story represents what so many people are currently going through and they have felt trapped, unable to leave their abusive church.  May they have the courage to leave now!  Thank you for speaking out and risking all for the sake of Christ and His reputation and for the truth.  ~Julie Anne



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My Experience with Spiritual Abuse
 


Hello, my name is Eric and I was a victim of spiritual abuse.

Writing this post is one of final steps that I am taking towards the completion of my healing in this long and painful journey. The abuse started when I was approximately twenty years old.  I did not fully understand that I had been spiritually abused until recently -in the past 12 to 24 months.  I am thirty-five years old now and I have decided to openly share my story.
To begin to understand what spiritual abuse is and how it affects a person, we must first define it.  The following definition and description came from Wikipedia:
Spiritual abuse is a serious form of abuse which occurs when a person in religious authority or a person with a unique spiritual practice misleads and maltreats another person in the name of God or church or in the mystery of any spiritual concept. Spiritual abuse often refers to an abuser using spiritual or religious rank in taking advantage of the victim’s spirituality (mentality and passion on spiritual matters) by putting the victim in a state of unquestioning obedience to an abusive authority.
Spiritual abuse is the maltreatment of a person in the name of God, faith, religion, or church, whether habitual or not, and includes any of the following:
-Psychological and emotional abuse
-Any act by deeds or words that demean, humiliate or shame the natural worth and dignity of a person as a human being
-Submission to spiritual authority without any right to disagree; intimidation
-Unreasonable control of a person’s basic right to make a choice on spiritual matters
-False accusation and repeated criticism by negatively labeling a person as disobedient, rebellious, lacking faith, demonized, apostate, enemy of the church or God
-Prevention from practicing faith
-Isolation or separation from family and friends due to religious affiliation
-Exclusivity; dismissal of an outsider’s criticism and labeling an outsider as of the devil
-Withholding information and giving of information only to a selected few
-Conformity to a dangerous or unnatural religious view and practice
-Hostility that includes shunning, (relational aggression, parental alienation) and persecution
Despite the comparative frequency of spiritual abuse, those types of behavior and actions which are today classified as spiritual abuse can be seen to be prohibited in the major texts and scriptures of numerous religious traditions. Indeed, in the Christian Bible, spiritually abusive behavior is condemned as being one of the worst forms of sin due to its capacity to diminish or even to destroy an individual’s relationship with God.
As I think back on my relationship with the pastor who abused me, I can remember what should have been one of the first “red flags”.  I was 19 years old and the pastor was around 25.  I had just surrendered to my calling into the ministry in the church that he was pastoring.  We were having a conversation regarding someone who he considered to be “a problem church member” that was not submitting to his authority. It was one of his extended family members, this made the situation even more difficult for him to handle.  I remember him telling me, “Tom should respect me; Tom should honor me!  I am the pastor!  When I tell Tom to jump; he should just ask me, ‘How high?’” Tom was a retired man in his early seventies; the young pastor was in his mid-twenties.

When I began to follow the pastor who abused me, I would have bet my life that something like this would NEVER happen to me.  I have always had a strong and independent personality and I was convinced that this pastor was a sincere man who really loved God.  I still believe that, in his mind, he still loves God and people. -In a way, he too is a victim of his own spiritual abuse.  I was a faithful follower for well over ten years.  During that time he was the primary influence in my life.  Furthermore, I believe that since he took me under his wing at such a young and vulnerable age, I was impacted by the spiritual abuse in a more profound way.  


For most of my time under him, I hung on every word that he said. In a lot of ways he began to control my life.  For most of those years I was on staff at a church we had planted and had the “honor” of being considered one of his closest confidants.  The fact that I got so close to him is what finally allowed me to eventually realize that he was spiritually abusing me, and others.  Over time, I began to have trouble reconciling his behavior with what he was preaching and teaching from the pulpit.  His sermons sounded so good…  and so right, but what I observed from the fruits of his life began to contradict his sermons.  Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.”  Keep in mind, drawing a large crowd and growing a large church was not the good fruit Jesus was talking about.  There have been many, many people throughout human history who were talented enough to draw large crowds, but whose lives were not producing the fruits that Jesus spoke of.  


The contrast between his actions and the entirety of the teachings of Christ is what finally brought me to the point of understanding what was actually happening.  I must admit that it was a very long and confusing process.  I can still listen to his sermons to this day and be tempted to think that everything is “just in my head.”  This is just part of the deception of “spiritual abuse.”   I have wrestled with writing this blog post for some time; the deception that surrounds everyone involved in a situation like this is what finally motivated me to complete this post and make it public.

It is very embarrassing to admit this, but my mind really got messed up while I was under this man’s influence.  I remember really wanting to leave the church multiple times but slipping deeper and deeper into it all at the same time.  By the time I was in my late twenties, I began to question this man to his face in private meetings regarding the decisions he was making. Reasonable questions mainly regarding the diversification of church government and the simple fact that I wanted to leave the church.  Every time I would question him the conversations would get more intense. We could never agree to disagree; he was adamant that I always see it his way and conform to his way of thinking.  And He would make me feel like I was going against God when I questioned him.  I loved God with all my heart and the last thing I wanted to do was rebel against Him, so I would end up cowering to the abusive pastor every time.  


In the last few years that I was under him, there were many times when I was in emotional agony; there are simply no other words to describe how I felt.  I would go for long walks trying to sort things out.  I would lie in bed at night and wrestle with why things were the way they were.  I would work very long hours at the church attempting to prove my loyalty to my pastor and God.  I guess deep down, I was still attempting to seek acceptance from him.  I was looking for a “pat on the back.”  I needed a “pat on the back” from him.  It all sounds so “sick” now as I think back on those days.

I tried to leave the church many times, but he always was able to talk me out of it.  I had been on part-time staff working full time hours.  Between the church and my full time secular job I was working well over 80 hours per week some weeks.  I almost always worked 60+ hours every week. I remember just wanting out. By that time, I had a career outside of the church but somehow he was able to keep me in the flock.  I never understood how he managed that until I learned about what spiritual abuse is and how it affects the abused person.

Finally in 2005 after a major building project, I was completely burnt out.  I had run myself down so much physically that I was literally physically sick.  I remember staying sick for well over a month.  I approached the pastor and explained that I could not keep working the schedule that I had been working.  I still remember the meeting; he was so emotionless and cold as I described my condition.  He agreed to “allow me” to back off.  By this time I was not a stupid kid anymore; I knew that if I took my hands off of all the things in the church that I had been doing that it would begin to unravel.  So, I did. After just a few months things were beginning to unravel and he was forced to put me on staff full-time.  Well, he got my wife and I both full-time at the full-time pay for one person -without any benefits or health insurance.  I left a promising and successful secular career to become full-time at this church.  Why? I think that decision illustrates what spiritual abuse can do to a person’s decision making abilities.  Looking back on it now I think, WHAT WAS I THINKING!?!  –But at the time, it seemed to make perfect sense.  I thought becoming full-time at the church would solve all of the problems.  And the sick fact was that I did desire to be closer to the person who was abusing me.  Plus, there was the glamor of being in full-time ministry, right? Somehow in my warped mind, my wife and I becoming full-time at the church made perfect sense, so I quit my secular job.

Within a few months it was obvious that I made an awful decision.  After we became full-time, he thought he owned us!  The abyss between what he said from behind the pulpit and what I observed by watching him became simply un- reconcilable.  During this time, I began to lose respect for him. BUT, my mind was still warped.  I did not understand what spiritual abuse was and I was not aware of the dynamics that were happening inside the church and inside my own mind.  I was hurt, confused and in emotional turmoil.  But, I still felt a need to submit to him, to honor him, to be loyal to him and most importantly to protect and defend him.  –Even though I was beginning to lose respect for him.  Yes, I was a mess!

The breaking point was in a meeting in late of 2005.  My wife and I (and others) had worked our backsides off preparing for a harvest festival that was to be held at the church.  We had literally worked 70 to 80 hour weeks in the few weeks leading up to the festival.  It was a BIG production that required a lot of work.  In addition, the board members of the church had decided to hold a pastor’s appreciation dinner to honor the pastor on the prior Sunday.  The other associate pastor and I coached the board members through putting the dinner together.  All in all, my wife and I thought the dinner went well. The following Monday the pastor held a meeting with the other associate pastor and I. He verbally wore us out.  I cannot remember all of the specifics of the meeting.  I remember him saying that he wished we would have just given “him” a check for the money that was spent on the pastor’s appreciation dinner rather than having the dinner.  He also said that he felt “dishonored” by the dinner.  In addition, he scolded the other pastor and me for our work habits even though we were both working over forty hours per week.  Even my emotionally warped mind knew something was terribly wrong with this unhealthy church environment.  I had never been treated so poorly by a supervisor, much less my pastor.  I went home that day and told my wife we were leaving.  From that day forward I began to plot our way out.

I knew when the pastor found out that we were leaving that he would do whatever he could to stop us.  I also knew that when he realized that he was not able to stop us that he would do his best to cut us off from our church family and He did.  There were meetings held behind our backs.  He told the staff and the church board that he knew we were going to fail on our next ministry endeavor.  The night that it was announced to the church that we were leaving, we were not even allowed to be in the room.  STILL, my mind was warped; I did not fully understand what was going on. He did everything he needed to do to make our departure look “OK” publicly, but what happened in private was a different story.   I went along with everything and never uttered a single negative word against him to anyone in the church.  I “honored” him throughout the entire process.

This man who had called himself one of my best friends, and “my spiritual father” quickly kicked us to the curb.  When he found out that we wanted to plant another church, he gave me six weeks to get out.  As a matter of fact, I was vacated out of my office within a few weeks and forced to use the sound booth in the youth building for an office the last month I was on staff.  He would have kicked us out sooner, but he needed us to wrap some things up and train others to do what we were doing. We also had a big Easter drama planned and I was the only one who knew how to operate all of the sound and video equipment.  Keep in mind that I had faithfully served him for over six years in the current church working full time hours at very part time pay for over five of those years.  None of that mattered; I was no longer useful to him.  On my last day in the office, he did not even get up from behind his desk when I left. No embrace, no handshake, absolutely nothing but coldness. Even after everything that had happened, I was still absolutely stunned and deeply hurt. –But still making excuses for him.

Our way out of the abusive situation was church planting.  We moved 725 miles away to plant a church in Terre Haute, Indiana.  Moving away was the best decision we could have ever made. We decided to move because I did not want to plant a church locally.  I knew it would be a mess if I did.  I also just wanted to get away from the situation; there was so much hurt and confusion.  Keep in mind even at this point, I still honored this man.  I still defended this man.  In the year after we moved to Indiana, people from my former church would call me and complain to me about the things he was doing and I would STILL defend this pastor.  I would still make excuses for him.  The reason why I would never publicly address the situation or acknowledge the problems were because I still believed that God was using him and directing him.  I did not want to have a rebellious spirit.   I was also still praying and hoping that he would see his errors and repent.  I truly believed that he eventually would.

How did I come to the realization that I had been spiritually abused?  That’s a good question.  When we left the abusive situation, we had no idea we were being spiritually abused.  In fact, we did not even know what spiritual abuse was.  I guess back then, if someone would have asked me what spiritual abuse was, I would have thought it happened only in extreme cult cases like David Koresh or Jim Jones. Obviously our situation was not nearly as extreme.  I would have never connected myself to spiritual abuse.  I was too smart and too strong to be a victim of something like that.  Yeah, right…  My first clue was a conversation that I had with the pastor of the church in Indiana that “mothered” our new church plant.  I remember telling him in a conversation that he was my “new “pastor and therefore I was submitting my ministry and church plant to him.  (Not submitting to the church, but to him personally.) I remember the look on his face after I said that.  He had a puzzled look and did not quite know what to say.  We moved on to other conversation, but I remember that awkward moment; it stuck in my head for some time.

As with all of us who follow Jesus, I was not perfect either and God was leading me through a process to break my pride and arrogance and to bring me to a place of deeper surrender to Him.  He used my church planting experience to break me down and to deliver me from my arrogance and pride.  In the midst of that process, I began to build relationships with other pastors at God’s direction.  I began attending a weekly pastors’ prayer group, having lunch with other pastors and attending and then working in spiritual retreats called “Emmaus Walks.”  The more I got around more experienced and healthy pastors, the more I began to realize that things “weren’t right” in me and in my past.  I began to address these things as God brought them up in my spirit.  


During this season of my life, I wanted nothing more than to completely surrender my life and ministry to God.  As I began to deal with my own spiritual “unhealthiness,” it became apparent to me that I had learned these behaviors from my former pastor.  After all, he had started “mentoring” me when I was 18 and he had declared himself my “spiritual father.”  I addressed him on a few different occasions; once by phone and another time by letter.  My hopes were for repentance (on both sides) and complete restoration; the results of my attempts were completely the opposite.  My attempts at communication were private; his responses were made publicly from behind his bully pulpit.

Through this process I realized that I still had an unhealthy emotional connection with this man.  After everything that had happened, I still yearned for the relationship to be reconciled.  I realized that my emotions and my spirit had been damaged by this unhealthy relationship and church experience.  I did not know what to call it, but I knew something was not right in me.  It only took about thirty minutes of research one evening to learn the name of what had happened to my wife and me, “spiritual abuse.”  


At that point I began to stop making excuses for my former pastor and I began to look at the reality of the situation. That process did not happen overnight. It probably took me a full year to completely come to terms with the fact that we had been spiritually abused.  The reality is that we were taken advantage of.  Our love for God and His people was exploited by a selfish incomplete man who manipulates people to get what he wants.  He does not truly love the sheep; he uses the sheep.  He may say he loves them; he may even think that he loves them, but his actions prove different.  Love is not proven by words; it is demonstrated in actions –as Jesus did on the cross.

Our former pastor took advantage of two young kids who loved God and him very much.  The problem was that our relationship with God grew to the point where we were able to begin to see what he was doing, to us and many others.  When we became a threat, he had to dispose of us as quickly as possible.  –After the first time I seriously questioned him in a specific but very respectful way without backing down, (on the phone from Indiana) he never made a single attempt to communicate with me again. I was focused on restoration and he was worried about disposing of us as quickly as possible.  I was still defending him and he had already started assassinating my character to protect his.

Obviously, I have had to work though un-forgiveness and bitterness with this situation.  I must confess that I experienced a season of deep bitterness.  When I realized the full reality of what had happened, I was very bitter.  I felt like the bitterness was eating me up on the inside.  I have never had cancer before, but bitterness has to be something close to it, an emotional cancer eating away at your heart.   I knew it was wrong to feel that way; I knew it was sin, but the bitterness was there anyway and I had to deal with it.  Thankfully, God, in His sovereign grace, had surrounded me with a wonderful wife & kids and new friends in Indiana who really did love me.  God used those wonderful people in conjunction with a Christian counselor to help me work through the bitterness.  I will not say it was easy, but we got through it.  And I am soooooooo thankful.  It feels so good to be healed and free; words simply cannot express how good it feels.

Our lives have changed so much over the past five years; if you have read prior entries in my blog I think it is obvious. We are almost completely different people.  Here is a quick summary:
  • We have become spiritually healthy; we have never been closer to God.
  • We have become emotionally healthy; we have learned much better boundaries in our relationships.
  • We have become physically healthy; I have lost over 100 pounds and Amy has lost over 50 pounds.
  • Our marriage and family life has never been healthier.
  • We have become financially healthy; long story, but just trust me!
  • We are free to be who God created us to be; we no longer strive to conform to what people want us to be.
  • We are enjoying fruitful ministry, on God’s terms as He leads and we love it!
  • We are doing things that we never dreamed we would do!!! -I recently started an itinerate preaching and teaching ministry that is going very well and Amy is back in school working towards becoming a Physician’s Assistant. –I am so very proud of her!

So if everything is going great for us and we are no longer bitter, why write this blog post?

One of the primary characteristics of spiritual abuse is the fact that few people openly talk about it.  It is NOT a sin to talk about it.  It is NOT a sin to expose it.   It is NOT a sin to refuse to be abused.  It is NOT a sin to stand up for yourself.  The spiritual abuser is the perpetrator; not the person who is being abused.
I wrote this post because I wanted those of you who are struggling with this type of abuse to know that you are not alone.  My wife and I struggled with this, for so long.  We did not have anyone to talk to, for so long.  We thought we were the problem, for so long. We cowered in fear, shame and confusion, for so long. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

The complication and confusion associated with this type of abuse is simply amazing.  As I said earlier, I can still listen to some (not all) of this man’s sermons and doubt that the abuse ever took place.  He is such a gifted preacher and he sincerely means what he is saying in regards to loving God and loving people.  However, there most definitely is a disconnect between his sermons and some of his actions. If you look closely, his ministry is littered with the broken relationships to prove it.
As my wife says, “Lies are still lies no matter how loudly they are being shouted from a bully pulpit and no matter how many people in the audience believe them.”  You are not alone and there are godly loving pastors and godly loving churches out there that will love you and minister to you in the way that Jesus instructed. They may not present you with a dog and pony show every Sunday morning, but they will love you and minister to you. If you are one who has been spiritually abused, is being spiritually abused or is at risk of being spiritually abused, my prayer is that you would realize just how much God loves you.  He loved you so much that he sent His Son to die in your place on the cross.  And, the God who loves YOU that much does not want you to be taken advantage of or spiritually abused by anyone.  Spiritual abuse is not God’s will for your life!


 

57 comments on “Personal Story of Spiritual Abuse by Eric

  1. Thanks for releasing your post Eric. For those that have followed Paul's story. Eric and Paul are talking about the same church and same Pastor. Hopefully more people that have been abused by this Pastor will come forward and expose him for what he really is.

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  2. THANK YOU, Eric for sharing your story. The best part of the story is your recovery and where you are with Christ NOW. Your story echoes the accounts of so many of the participants in my doctoral research study. It is amazing to grasp that something good can come out of something so distorted and harmful. People's understanding of God's grace grows so much deeper and richer after recovering from spiritual abuse. That is the good news.The bad news is that so many Christians who love God and desire to serve him are in places where it is so unhealthy, spiritually, mentally, and physically. It takes so many people a long time to fathom that the spiritual atmosphere under certain church leadership is truly toxic. It takes individuals who will document their harmful stories under devious church leaders so that the Body of Christ gets the facts straight: that spiritual abuse is not perceived as a bunch of disgruntled complainers.May God use your story to help many others.

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  3. Thanks Eric,Your heart for our Lord speaks loudly through this disturbing story. I think you've done a great service in showing how difficult it can be, when in an abusive relationship, to even see the problem let alone walk away.

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  4. Good articulation of events. Something that Kevin stated got me to thinking: "Obviously, I have had to work though un-forgiveness and bitterness with this situation." So, here are my interpretive questions to ponder, and I am going to look into it myself because at this point, I am not sure what the answers are:1. Are we obligated to grant forgiveness when their is no forgiveness sought or repentance?2. Since the biblical application of forgiveness is, never bringing the issue up to that person again, as well as ourselves and others, would that exclude warning others about the dangers of that person or discussing the issue on any wise?3.So, if we are obligated to forgive even when there is no repentance or forgiveness sought, uh,turn out the lights, right? No? Yes? 4. Does anger always = bitterness? Can we be angry and "sin not"? And if we commit to forgiving someone, can we continue to be angry with them?5. Again, is a refusal to grant forgiveness where there is no repentance automatically guarantee that there will be bitterness? 6. What's the difference between anger and bitterness? What would a word study on that reveal?

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  5. Hi Paul: Are you the same Paul whose story I featured? I'm a bit confused because the other Paul who commented above (whose story I featured) didn't use a blogger account. Thanks!

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  6. Paul, I am attempting to answer your questions from my phone so I will be short and concise with an illustration. Jesus was angry with the Pharisees. He called the Pharisees out. He knew the Pharisees were hurting the "littles ones," yet when He died on the cross, He died for them just as He died for you and me.I forgive my abuser. I am inspired by a holy anger to speak out against my abuser. I will do my best to protect others from my abuser. All three of those action are motivated by love, not bitterness. -I have tried my best to "follow Jesus" through this process. And I really think I have found a balance.I have a few other thoughts, perhaps I'll share them later.

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  7. Readers: "Paul" was an alias name in an article I posted earlier. Paul's real name is Raymond. Raymond told me he would like to be known by his real name now.

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  8. Eric,Thanks for your input. I am thinking through all of this. I think your suggestion that holding people accountable is an act of love is certainly valid. (If that is an accurate assessment of what you are saying). Susan and I tossed this around for a while tonight. Your comment has provoked another interpretive question: 7.Is loving our enemies the same as granting forgiveness? It would seem that you somewhat answered that question: Jesus loves the whole world, but he's not going to forgive everybody. And 8. The Apostles seem to concede that we will have enemies, but we are to love them. Are "enemies" those who we are unreconciled with? And 9., We are to forgive the way we were forgiven, but does that necessarily mean that the our forgiveness also requires repentance? I should come up with a tenth question to make it even-ending on odd numbers always bothers me. Oh well, everybody here now knows how my mind works? Thanks again Kevin, Paul Dohse

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  9. Yes, great questions.Basically, the way I've heard it is: forgiveness is primarily for the one giving it. This is especially true when an abuser/perpetrator is no longer living. Forgiveness sets a person free–and that someone is us!

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  10. Paul, I try to keep things as simple as possible. So here goes my simple response…I think it is all about our motivation. Is my motivation love? Or is my motivation bitterness? Love says forgive, love says help and protect the weak, love seeks the Truth, love is angered by evil, love always hopes for the best, love sacrifices for others, love even desires reconciliation with its enemies (as God did with us.)On the other hand, bitterness seeks revenge, bitterness refuses to forgive, bitterness has allowed its anger to be turned evil, bitterness does not desire or seek reconciliation. Bitterness tries its best to find an excuse not to love. Thank God He never gets bitter towards us!As I have navigated these past few years of my life, I have watched my motives carefully, am I acting out of "Love" or "Bitterness?" My abuser and those surrounding him will have to answer for their actions, but I will have to answer for mine as well.-And Love is not stupid, weak or naive; Jesus sure wasn't! BUT, I have realized that Jesus refused to play "the world's game;" He refused to play by the world's rules. He loved. His motives were always based in love.When my motives are based in love, I find that "my" answers to all of your questions come much easier. It has been my expereince that the more I yield to biblical love, the more healing and growth I expereince. *This does NOT mean that I am not still angeted by spiritual abuse and it obviously does not mean that I stop speaking out and confronting the abusers. It just means I am careful to check my motives.For the record, I did have my "bitterness" stage. -It was not any better than being in the abusive church. Sin is sin, whether it takes place in an abusive church or in our hearts.

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  11. I'm still thinking through all of this and the input here is helpful. I am, for the time being, favoring the view that we love our enemies and only grant forgiveness to those who seek reconciliation and own their part in the sin. In my own situation, have I forgiven them? NO. But, if I was going down the road and observed that one of them needed help for some reason, would I stop and help them? YES! This is the approach I am leaning towards. Also, we can't forget the biblical concept of "covering with love" ("love covers a multitude of sin") It would seem that we have liberty to do that, or pursue it via Matthew 18. But, if we choose to cover an offence with love, are we at liberty to continue to discuss the issue? Hmmmmm. Eric seems to be saying "yes," and that MOTIVES are the issue–what is the purpose or motive of continued confrontation after forgiveness is grants, LOVE, or REVENGE? I think this is a valid equation to consider.The Dohse Paul

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  12. EricThank you for sharing your story – It brought back lots of memories. :-(And I thought I was the only one who worked so many hours… Oy Vey!!! :-(Trying to please the abuser – Yeah – I didn’t recognize it as abuse then either.“The Pastor/Abuser” had become a “best friend” also – As “We” worked together to “Build The Kingdom of God.” (Another deception – but it sure sounded good.)Found out – God doesn’t need my help – Jesus will build – His Church – His way.And “the Spiritual Abuse” does have a benefit – It drives you to Jesus… ;-)And Jesus is the best – Yes? Jesus said – In John 10:27 – MY Sheep – hear MY Voice – And Follow Me…Jesus is – The Best Teacher – The Best Leader – The Best Shepherd.It’s amazing what we will believe – and put up with – when someone we respect…Flatters us – Tells us how important we are – And we’re called of God for this hour.Pro 29:5 A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet.The trap had been set and I bought the lie – “I” was special – God needed me.When you buy the lie – You start to die…When you live the lie – You die slowly – Day by day…Jer 50:6 KJV*My people* hath been *lost sheep:* “their shepherds” have caused them to “go astray”1 Pet 2:25 KJVFor ye were as *sheep going astray;* but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.I’m Blest – I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…{{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

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  13. I agree A. Amos. I remember in our last months at Eagle Heights making the comment to my wife that "Eagle Heights was not the only place God was working." We were not special, God wanted to use others, many others… I and do agree, responding correctly to spiritual abuse will drive you to Jesus, the True Shepard.

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  14. Eric,Ugh! The whole exclusivism thing. Kept me at an abusive church for several years after I knew things were not right. Till this day, people at that church know grade A well it's all wrong but, "Where else are we going to go?" ps,Your're in our neck of the woods guy–we will hook up.

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  15. And about this thing called – “Forgiveness”Lots of good questions here about betterness, anger and forgiving.I used to volunteer at a food pantry – Where we worked with lots of folks who were a little – “Different”- Lacking in social skills – Lacking in mental skills – Angry – Bitter – Frustrated – With the adversities of life that had come their way – You know – Those folks we would never think about when searching for “Spiritual Insights.”Well – one day – one of these men – while we were in our prayer room – looking like a living room – with a couch and a big soft chair – He told me how – After we had been talking about Jesus for about a month – over coffee and cookies – How he just talked to his mother in another state – And apologized to her for some of his attitudes and behavior…That took me by surprize and I thought that was kinda awesome… Since the topic of “Forgiveness” hadn’t been talked about. And I mentioned that…I said – James – maybe we should talk about “Forgiveness.”He asked – What does Forgiveness mean.I replied – Why not ask Jesus ?- We had mostly focused on – Hearing His Voice – Over the last couple of weeks and he was familiar with the exercise.He leaned his head back on this big easy chair – and closed his eyes for 30 seconds.When he opened his eyes he said – Jesus is telling me that…“Forgiveness is letting go of another persons judgements.”And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd. John 10:16 One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

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  16. Yes – someone – I would never think of going to for "Spiritual Advise"Had heard from Jesus…John 14:26 But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things… John 6:45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be ALL taught of God.Deuteronomy 4:36 Out of heaven he made thee to *hear His voice,*that *He might instruct thee:* Psalms 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

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  17. Paul, all I can say in response to your last comment is that I believe my motives are based in "love." Love demanded that I forgive my abuser and those associated with him. Love demands that I stand up for the weak and abused. Love leads me to help others heal. And being motivated by love empowers me to face the battles and not give in to the bitterness that could so easily overwhelm me, if I allowed it to.Forgiveness is a process. I honestly believe in situations like these, it does not happen over night. -Sometimes we do not even realize what we need to forgive, as there is so much deception and twisted truth in spiritual abuse. That is why I think it is so important to talk about our experiences in "safe" atmospheres. Talking and writing about my experience has helped me A LOT.I also think it is OK for us to be at a place where we know we need to forgive, but we admit that we are not ready yet. I find the best way to overcome my sin is to get really honest with God about it -rather than attempting to cover it up or make an excuse for it. It has been my experience that when I approach God in such a way, he has grace and patience.I think there is great danger in allowing bitterness to take root in our hearts. Bitterness changes us; it corrupts ours perspective. It sours us. Thinking back, during my season of bitterness, I was is no better place than when we were in that abusive church. Just like it is NOT God's will for us to be in an abusive church; it is NOT Gods will for us to be overcome with bitterness. "Bitterness" is the fruit of refusing to forgive.When we choose to love, when we make a "decision" to forgive, (forgiveness is not a feeling)not only do we follow in Jesus' foot steps, but we inoculate ourselves from bitterness. This is why I believe it is SO important to forgive. It is not about our abuser, it is about us -and our families.

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  18. Paul – I'm wondering if maybe you have in fact forgiven, Paul. Let me explain an example and see if it makes sense. I don't think forgiveness requires reconciliation. In fact, I don't think that reconciliation is possible in many cases where the "enemy" refuses to admit anything. I think we should always hope that there will be some sort of resolution, but that doesn't mean that we are required to be buddy/buddy, either. It's wise to set good boundaries. I forgave my dad in my heart years and years ago, but knew that he still had not changed his ways and so I had to put up boundaries for my protection and his (and my children). It didn't mean that I didn't love him, but our relationship would not be close and intimate because his "demons" still ruled him so to speak. That's tough love, is it not?However, the last year of his life, he got ALS and as a result of knowing his time could be short, he did some soul searching. He had never acknowledged the abuse – ever. He still came to all family functions, but in my heart, I held him at arm's length and didn't allow anything closer. One particular day, my dad acknowledged what he did to me and apologized. There was true repentance with an understanding of the gravity of what was done. I will never forget that day as long as I live. That knocked down every wall there was and our relationship was restored. That was probably the most precious gift I have ever received. I think what was important though was that the motive of my heart was love even when I set the boundaries. Love does not mean we make foolish choices and put ourselves up in a situation to be abused again. I'm sure my dad sensed the boundaries I put up, but at the same time I did not close the doors to relationship. They remained open and he was included in my life, but on my terms. Because we still had a relationship, he was able to take that next step when he was prompted to make things right. I think if I were in the bitterness/revenge mode, he would not have been allowed any access to me.

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  19. Eric – this is so good. I agree with you completely. I would also like to add that in our journey because of the ongoing discovery process, we may encounter new insights that we didn't have earlier. I have a blog post about this: Discovery Process – The Jigsaw Puzzle It is very likely that we feel like we are going backwards in our recovery process as we go through the emotions of yet another issue we didn't realize we had. For example, through this blogging experience and rehashing, I have found other areas that our family was affected, some 3-1/2 yrs after the fact – that I had not previously attributed to our abusive church experience. I have to go through the healing process all over again with these new issues – – the anger, the sadness, the grieving, and then finally the forgiveness.

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  20. Eric – You are the 3rd pastor to connect with us here. I want to personally thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. So many of us know and understand your pain. What I appreciate so much is how you (like Pastor Ken Garrett) have used your experience and pain in a positive way to reach out to others to help them through their process. Many here won't have anything to do with a pastor anymore (understandably). You have the ability to bridge that divide because you have an instant connection with them because of your experience. Thank you for your sensitivity to that fact and the humility you have shown.

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  21. EricExcellent Explanation Exposing – bitterness – as the result of un-forgiveness.And I also have – Experienced – forgiveness as a process.Seems Jesus was the only one who was “Innocent” – without sin…And – in Luke 23:24, Jesus hung on that cross and said…“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”And yes – It is a decision – You don’t have to feel it – or believe it – Just do it.You’ll see the benefits – Maybe – In His time.Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

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  22. EricWhen I was in my “murmuring and complaining” mode – to God…And wanting to know why this could happen – to me… (Me – This spiritual Giant)How I could give – so much money – so much time – so much loyaltyTo a man – To a deceiver – To a false teacher…I heard – “You can’t cheat an honest man.”Lord – Me – NOT an honest man? But… But…And – I had to look at myself. Oy Vey!!!Turns out – “The Abusive Religious System” – the Abusive Pastor…Was giving me what “I” wanted… “And A Little Bit Extra.” – I liked the…Power – Profit – Prestige – Honor – Glory – Recognition – Reputation.That came with – Being known as – Second in Command – The Right Hand Man – The Pastors Armour Bearer.But – I didn’t like – “A Little Bit Extra” – That came with the Power and Prestige.Psalm 106:15 And he gave them **their request;** but sent “leanness into their soul.”Yeah – I had to look at myself first – And I didn’t like what I saw.God tells us – over and over again – To NOT trust in Man. To trust in Jesus.But – I didn’t listen. Being the “Siritual Genious” that I was…Jer 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.Ps 118:8-9 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.Yes – Jesus came to heal the broken hearted – And bind up our wounds…But – When folks are ready – Sometimes they just need to be angry for awhile.IMO – Forgiveness is one of the first steps. An important step. Forgiving the abuser – Forgiving yourself – And Forgiving God.When we are ready. In His Time.

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  23. I really don't have anything extra to add just don't want to be left out of all this good discussion. Eric is a personal friend of mine and been there for me throughout my difficult time.

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  24. Julie Anne,I was thinking that exact same thing last night. The testimony regarding your father is a great example. I have forgiven one of my stepsons for some things, like you know, telling Susan that she shouldn't have married me (he is unrepentant in regard to this). We fellowship with him freely, but certain things have been made clear to him concerning the initial issue that resulted in some pretty ugly confrontation. Basically, "what you do to me doesn't matter," but if you continue in behavior "B," all fellowship will be cut off. Makes sense.

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  25. Raymond – I'm so glad you reached out to me so we could discuss your situation and now Eric's here. Two people from the same church speaking and sharing their stories validates your experiences. Hopefully others in the church will recognize something from both of your stories that they may have been putting aside, not wanting to think badly about their pastor. The hope is that truth is exposed, that God's name is honored.It takes amazing strength and courage to speak out against abuse – especially when you feel alone. I'm glad Eric has been there for you. I've told Michelle how much I have appreciated her willingness to let me call sometimes several times a day when things were challenging.

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  26. Eric-Your story is very greatly appreciated. I have a friend many miles away who would not believe Julie Anne’s story. As soon as he read what Chuck said on the church Website/Blog my friend decided that JA had to be wrong. He even claimed the judge was wrong on his ruling. He never took the time to read quite enough of JA’s stories. But he surely was quick to buy what Chuck had to say on the church blog. I was so disappointed in him for his quick decision to buy into Chuck’s story. Seems the key word was “vendetta” at the time.He’s been a Christian for many years. I will send him your story to show that spiritual abuse happens to men and women alike. Your story seems to pretty well tell the tale, and also provides the “red flags” all wrapped up in an easy-to-read package.I don’t think my friend would even visit this blog. (Sorry JA ) So I took the liberty of ripping it off this blog and putting it in a Word Document and then converted it to a PDF file. I can email it to him and maybe convince the man that spiritual abuse is more than just a cooked-up phrase that someone pulled out of their hat. {sigh}Your story shows it can happen to the best of us, and especially those who are most devoted to the church and what they perceive as God’s work. And it surely shows what can happen when we get too devoted to the wrong person. (A dangerous pulpit bully!)I can identify with one statement you made after you took a full time job at that church. How the pastor treated you as if he OWNED you. – Philspassingthoughts, who owns who? –I worked for a man who seemed nice when you meet him. He is always nice to customers with money in their hand. But once you’re on his time clock, he thinks he owns your soul! For me it was just a part-time job anyway. He would rant and rave and scream at his employees. Nobody could ever do anything right. It is very hard to find work as an electronic technician these days unless you just happen to be in the right city and you have the right credentials. I put up with this guy’s verbal abuse, lack of appreciation, and low wage for over a year and then had to leave. I know mine was not “spiritual abuse” in this case, but it ties right in.It seems to me that there are a LOT of people around who have never even heard the term: “spiritual abuse”. Or they just don’t comprehend what it is. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

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  27. Don't worry, Sheep-Dog, some people just don't get it and don't want to get it. A lot of people have pastors up on pedestals like they do with doctors – if my doctor said it, then it must be true (blind trust).It does baffle me, however, how any right-minded individual would want to read that 18-page diatribe of a press release. Who releases such a monstrosity? And who would read such a thing?

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  28. JA-(Blind Trust) — gets us in trouble, but that's exactly the mentality that some pastors seem to want their people to have. They want the sheep to be dumb and follow them anywhere. I hate to admit it but Jim Jones was from my home state. His people followed him and drank the cool aid. I would call that spiritual abuse. I don't see anything on the BGBC website about the lawsuit at this time. Either I'm blind, or he removed it. I never did see that press release that you speak of. I think you had some of it posted on your blog earlier on. Sorry to get off-topic.

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  29. Our Lord taught us to pray: “Our Father in heaven…your will be done… forgive us our sins as we also have forgiven those who have sinned against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [Jesus explains] for if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6: 9-15). . .In every case of being sinned against we are to forgive. As followers of Christ there are no exceptions. I like the personal dimension to forgiveness Barb points to—when we forgive and release others their debts, we become free and released ourselves. I have a loved one who was as a child abused by her parents. She is middle-aged now, and has harbored bitterness and unforgiveness in her heart since childhood. Not only does she suffer spiritually (that is, relationally), but her emotional health suffers too, and, I sincerely believe, even her physical health has been adversely effected by her harboring of unforgiveness, and hatred even at times. The spiritual effects us holistically. What would I lose in peace and joy if I held on to such a debt due me?Forgiveness is a spiritual (and perhaps even legal) transaction that frees others (those who have sinned against us) at the same time it makes us (we who have been forgiven much) free. I wonder if the ability to forgive isn’t a gift of grace from God. Personally, since childhood I’ve never had a hard time forgiving others, or confessing and asking forgiveness for myself. We learn how to love, by being loved. We learn the true measure of grace in the forgiveness we receive in the atoning transaction of the cross. Forgiveness is a gift of grace, mercy, love, and life. Forgiveness is the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. . .and yes, JA, forgiveness doesn't necessarily entail reconciliation. also, you can't reconcile with a wolf or a snake, you just can't

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  30. The application of common sense is required. There are certain so-called Christians who make a mockery of themselves and the faith by offering forgiveness too quickly. I have seen news accounts of "Christians" forgiving unrepentant murderers; "Christians" forgiving criminals of crimes committed against others. In these instances, the professing "Christians" have become a joke.

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  31. In our old church we were told that we were special, that there was no other real Bible-believing church around – all others were Emergent, easy-believism, didn't teach the right gospel, didn't preach evangelism, didn't preach sin and righteousness, in fact probably most aren't even saved. We didn't do any mingling with outside churches because they were all less-thans. All the pastors in the district were supposedly watered-down Christians and theologically weak. So anyone who leaves that church has to be convinced that all of that is lies. When you have elevated your church/pastor to that level, that's a tough pill to swallow. And then you have isolated yourself from outsiders, so in order to leave, you will be very alone. It's scary.

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  32. Bob, I understand there to be a significant difference between forgiveness and holding someone accountable for their actions. One of my dearest friends, even an x-girlfriend, was violently raped by a serial rapist, she was the last known victim. The rapes stopped after the rapist was placed in prison for theft. On his release they took a DNA sample; this procedure is law now here in the state of Pennsylvania. When the State Police got around to registering his DNA they found a match from semen he left at one or more of the crime scenes. They picked him back up in the matter of days.The detectives came to her door one day and told my dear friend that they had the rapist in custody. She needed to identify and testify against him. She had to re-live that whole trauma all over again, repeatedly, she broke down and almost died! I honestly wail in tears as I write this to you, what that man did to her! To this very day, many years later, my beloved is affected, she is still wounded and broken terribly. At my end, if I may just say a few words about my end of things. I dealt with anger and rage. It wasn’t out of control anger or rage, it was holy and righteous and real. Please know, I forgave the man immediately. I had been praying that he would be found, I had been praying for him. And now that he was found I imagined in prayer that God had made me his judge. There was talk from other victims about torturing this man, humiliating him and making him suffer for what he had done. But this is what I would have done if I were given the power to execute judgement on him. I would not have humiliated or tortured him. I would have honestly loved him face to face, and I would have shared the gospel of forgiveness and redemption that we have in Christ. I would tell him the story of Jesus and avail myself to the convicted rapist as a minister of Christ and even a confessor and brother in Christ if he would accept the offer of salvation we have in Jesus. But here’s what I would of done. I would have given him proper time for him to get right with God, and then I would have humanely executed him. He wouldn't have gotten a prison sentence, not another chance at life. His time here would be done. In this there is forgiveness and justice. As I write this I haven’t wept with so much pain in many years. From my perspective, again, there is forgiveness, which is a different matter than holding the man accountable for his actions.

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  33. Eric, I like what you wrote, how 'bitterness is the sour fruit of unforgiveness;' how 'it corrupts our perspective.' But 'the decision to forgive inoculates us from bitterness.'. .By the way, I found it interesting that the eagleheights.net profile information details how “Lisa graduated with honors from Southeastern Louisiana University” but doesn’t mention where “Pastor Kevin went on to play college baseball before receiving a degree in church ministries.”Where did Kevin received his christian education?

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  34. This is the third church build since 2002. The first was built to seat 300 people, I don't know what the cost. The second was built in 2005 to seat 810 people at a cost of somewhere around 600 thousand. The third was built in 2010 and was told by the pastor it was built at a cost of about 90.00 per sq foot. The building according to the Fire Marshall permit is 30,000 sq ft, so if you do the math that comes to about 2.7 million dollars. Of course none of this financial information is presented to the congregation except bits and pieces from the pulpit. Sad thing is the third church only seats 1058 people in the sanctuary. So over 2 million dollars was spent to add 248 seats. I don't know a lot about Church building and church growth but building a new sanctuary to only add 250 seats seems in my opinion a waste of Gods money. Unless someone is getting a contractor fee for the construction projects. Guess who the general contractor is in all these projects. You guessed it, the Pastor.

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  35. I'm sorry, Eric -I sure wish I could control that!Your 2nd paragraph is RIGHT ON! Yes, there is life after spiritual abuse – there is hope after spiritual abuse – there is JOY after spiritual abuse. You nailed exactly one of the key purposes of this blog!

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  36. Thanks for the kind words and encouragement everyone. I am sorry that I missed timely followups on a few comments. I tried to reply a few times from my iPhone and could not get past Julie Anne's security ; )The part of my story that I would like to highlight the most is that there IS a place of healing than can be found after leaving an abusive church. You must not hold on to the bitterness; it will devastate you emotionally and spiritually if you do. If you listend to anything that I said, please listen to that. -It is YOUR choice how you respond to your situation.

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  37. I have a belief after working with my children who have come from traumatic backgrounds that all our negative feelings, anger, bitterness, etc, are actually cognitive expressions of a much more base emotion: fear. When we are angry OR bitter it comes from a very vulnerable place, but anger feels more powerful, more in control. I think anger can fade, bitterness is hanging on to the anger for an extended period of time. I think the reason not forgiving others is a sin is because it is us trying to punish or take the place of God. I remember hearing someone say once – and this lead to my most important forgiving of my life – that remaining bitter and not forgiving someone is like taking poison and waiting for that person to die.I think we humans need to learn that forgiving someone is NOT the same as saying "what you did was OK" rather, it is releasing the bad stuff's hold on us, and trusting that God will be able to take care of it just fine without us. (Not saying I do this perfectly!) – God did not ask us to forgive those who repent or seek forgiveness, he definitely commanded we forgive. A scripture I love "“Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men."

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  38. Hi, scooping it up,Fwiw, the scripture you quote is not part of the canon of Old Testament and New Testament writings that Christians consider Scripture. Is this sourced from Joseph Smith?

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  39. Thank you for this post, for telling your story, for your clear and concise definitions of what has happened to you, and your descriptions of abusive behavior. I am just now beginning my research, but have recently left a church plant where I believe the pastor was A) abusive to me in a specific week-long incident, and B) is on a VERY slippery slope toward becoming an abusive pastor, if he isn’t already. By God’s grace, I’m familiar with emotional abuse, and recognized it quickly and the decision to leave was relatively easy (and freeing, and brought such relief). For my husband and I, our question now is how to handle things with other church members. We’ve already had two people come to us and ask specifically about our abrupt departure, and share their experience…which further concerns us that there is a pattern of abusive behavior emerging, and that it WASN’T “just us”. But how do we proceed? Matthew 18? Simply allow those who do come to us, and encourage and support them? There are not any true elders in this less than 2 year old church plant, so can’t go there. There really seems to be a very LOOSE governing body who “sent” these planters. Very concerned about 2 of the 3 “inner circle” families…very emotionally vulnerable right now. Very concerned about the “baby” Christians in the church. We are praying through it. Again. Thank you for your post.

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  40. Pingback: Spiritual Abuse 101B « I Kissed Church Goodbye

  41. In some ways is it possible that you are still defending your
    former pastor by saying things like In his own way, you
    believe he loves God and loves people, even though his
    actions say otherwise? The bible says a good man cannot
    bear bad fruit, and a bad man cannot bear good fruit. By
    their FRUITS you will know them. Just because he can preach
    a good sermon, what he does behind closed doors shows
    who he REALLY is! The problem with the whole situation is
    that no one wants to believe anything can be wrong with a
    pastor even if the evidence says otherwise. Yes, pray for
    them and forgive them. But please quit defending them by
    assuming they “have a heart for God” when only God
    knows what is in their (and our) heart. If someone says
    something then maybe it’s time we listen instead of defending
    the abuser to the very end….I’m not talking about stirring up
    trouble, but I’m talking about helping the abused overcome
    what’s happened to them so they can get back on their feet
    spiritually and back on track with the Lord. How many have
    walked away because they tried to get someone to listen to
    them about a very real offense and no one believed
    them, simply because it was done by someone in church
    leadership…….We should not believe everything we hear,
    of course, but we should ask the Lord for discernment.
    Some of the sheep have been wounded and there is no
    one to help them recover from the betrayal. We are so busy
    defending anyone that stands behind a pulpit, no matter what.
    That only makes it easier for the abuse to continue.

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  42. Yesterday I watched a program on one
    of the christian stations. Normally, the pastors
    answers are right-on and line up with the
    word of God. However, one question came up and
    the answer, in my understanding of the word of
    God, was not correct, even though I feel the female
    preacher had good intentions in her reply.
    The question was (if I remember it correctly)….
    is profanity blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? Her answer
    was that unless the person is profaning directly the
    Holy Spirit it’s not blasphemy!! (correct!)
    She went on to quote the scripture that “no profane
    person” would enter the Kingdom. (That is scriptural)
    The problem was in her interpretation of what that
    scripture meant. In her estimation, a profane person
    is one that says “cuss words”…..such an oversimplified
    reference to what the Lord was saying. There
    is a pharisaical approach to that in her answer……the truth is
    JESUS CHRIST AND HE ALONE IS OUR SAVIOR AND
    THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO OR NOT DO THAT WILL
    SAVE OUR SOULS…THE ONLY THING WE CAN AND
    MUST DO IS RECEIVE JESUS AS OUR PERSONAL LORD
    AND SAVIOR AND TRUST HIM TO BE OUR SALVATION.
    We must not add to or subtract from the simplicity of the
    gospel. If every person could blaspheme the Holy Spirit
    by saying a “cuss” word, heaven would surely be empty,
    except for God and His Son, Jesus Christ and a multitude
    of angels. Our salvation
    is not in cleaning up our language, even though that is
    a by-product of living close to Jesus in our everyday life.
    But even then, we all struggle with issues. If we overcome
    one, another will show up. I’m not making excuses for sin
    or weakness, but God says His power will show more
    clearly through our weaknesses.
    When I was first saved I went to 3 different catholic
    priest to ask if I had lost my salvation because I had “bad
    thoughts” since being born-again. First of all, I’m not sure
    they had a clue what I really meant by “born-again” (reference
    John 3:3 and Romans 10:9 & 10 ) , and
    secondly they ALL said the same thing…that I had blasphemed
    the Holy Spirit and implied I had lost my salvation. I was fearful
    for years that I had committed the unpardonable sin. Yet here
    I was taking advice from mere men who probably had
    thoughts that would curl my hair if I had access to them.
    Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, from what I feel the Lord showed
    me, is INTENTIONAL AND DELIBERATE and with full knowledge
    that one is purposely
    insulting the grace of God with no remorse and no repentance.
    Just the fact that someone would be worried whether they
    blasphemed the Holy Spirit shows that they most certainly did not.
    Even as I write this I am aware that there are some that will read
    this, that have been told or had the thought that they had committed
    this sin, but beware, it is the devil convincing you that you have done
    something that cannot be forgiven. HE’S LYING TO YOU!

    Take it from someone that suffered unnecessarily for years with
    false guilt,you can’t save yourself and you can’t clean yourself
    up. Spend time with Jesus your Lord and Savior and He will do the
    work of “cleaning you up”. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect and
    always say and do the right thing every time…that won’t happen
    as long as we are alive on this earth. Jesus said HE IS THE
    AUTHOR AND RESTORER (FINISHER) OF OUR FAITH!! Enjoy
    God and know that he loves YOU personally and with
    compassion and that you are the APPLE OF HIS EYE!!!
    He wants people to be saved and has opened the door wide.
    Religious people act like He is purposely putting roadblocks
    in our way. Jesus did not die to give us a religion. He died to bring
    us into RELATIONSHIP with Him. Religion is man-made.
    Eternal life comes through relationship with the Father through
    the Son.

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