Dr. Dan Allender: Trauma, Our Personal Stories, and Recovery through Music

Dr. Dan Allender, Trauma, Music, Spiritual Abuse Recovery, Personal Stories


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Those who have been reading here for a while know how important I believe it is for survivors to tell their abuse stories. It took a while for us to believe the lies our church leader(s) told us about who we are and who God is. Eventually, through manipulation and deceit, we then told ourselves those lies. These “recordings” played over and over in our minds until they were perceived as normal. This is all part of thought reform, patterns of coercion, manipulation, and control, that cult leaders use to keep us emotionally and spiritually bound to them and their teachings.

When we are finally in a place where we can identify truth from lies, we still have to wrestle with the recordings that play in our minds that attempt to shift us back to the dangerous teachings we heard. I strongly believe that hearing ourselves speak the truth when we tell our stories will eventually override the old and damaging recordings in our mind.

I believe this is why many survivors have a need to tell our stories over and over again. It doesn’t mean we are living in the past. No. I believe it means we are validating our experience and further pushing that false and destructive narrative out of our minds.

Telling stories is empowering. It gives us strength to stand on our own two feet and use our critical thinking skills. We own our stories, even though they are negative. But now, as we tell our stories safe from our abuser, we are in control, not our abusive spiritual leaders. We speak not as one who remains stuck as a victim, but as a survivor who can incorporate the negative experience into the fabric of our bigger life story in a positive way. It shapes us, it softens and humbles us. It still hurts at times, but we can become more resilient and intentional with this trauma behind us.

May we never tire of listening to the stories of survivors. When we do listen, we validate them and help them to become whole. Also, if we are survivors, may we never tire of telling our stories without apologies. It may be just what a listener needs to hear.

Lately, I’ve been reading about our body’s response to trauma, and this 2-minute video is fascinating. In it, Dr. Dan Allender helps us to understand the power of music used as a healing agent in relation to trauma.

 

I’ve been a lifelong musician (pianist and vocalist).

Yet in my darkest days, the one thing that left me

was what I love the most,

the music that spontaneously played in my heart.

 

Although I played the piano during praise and worship at my cult “church” and enjoyed it, I lost my love of singing. I didn’t have songs playing in my heart.

Some may recall that it was music  — me accompanying my son’s high school choir  — that helped me to get out of my cult. I looked at the world differently when I was participating in the choir. I didn’t hear my pastor’s evil words telling me that everyone who was not going to his church was probably on their way to hell. Instead, I saw people for who they were – unique individuals created in God’s image.

This was the beginning of the process of me separating from the cult. When I was busy with the high school choir, it gave me time to think of other things outside the church. Previously, the church kept my mind so busy, I didn’t have time to think. Now, at the high school choir, I gained back my self, my critical thinking, my own thoughts and questions. I came back to life again. At one time during a Wednesday night choral performance, I remember feeling a tinge of guilt come over me – I had missed the Wednesday night meeting at church. But my mind said, “I don’t care.” That was a healthy response! The idea that I played secular choral music on the piano without my pastor’s oversight or permission was so liberating. There’s probably nothing scientifically significant about my experience with music that allowed me to wake up, but I’ve always acknowledged that it was that choir experience that was pivotal in my spiritual abuse journey.

In the following video, Dr. Allender takes the topic of music a step further and notes (pun) the physical responses in our brain when we experience trauma, and then add music. He discusses how our brain physically heals through music. I love this. Is it any wonder we see so much in the Bible about worship and music? I was always impressed in the Old Testament that there was an emphasis on using trained musicians to lead music. God wanted good musicians to lead people. And when people sang and worshiped, they were moved emotionally and spiritually. And I have no doubt that many were healed through music.

So, if you are recovering from spiritual abuse or any kind of trauma for that matter, I encourage you to play music, and SING!  Your brain can regain what was lost as a result of trauma! Watch the video, it’s around 2 minutes long.

 

Kari Benton Shares: Spiritual Recovery after a Lawsuit and Spiritual Abuse

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Pastor Chuck O’Neal Continues to Pull the Wool over His Evangelist Friends’ Eyes

Chuck O’Neal, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, Jeff Rose, Dr. Edward Delcour, Mike Gendron, Mike Stockwell, and Robert Gray, Evangelism Reformation Conference, Reformation Fire Conference

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I don’t have a problem with those tweets. On the surface, they are fine. But even false teachers get things right. The Bible tells us:

For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Jude 1:4

 

I haven’t done a post on my ex-pastor for quite a while, but I’ve been disturbed lately to see that he has found a niche with people who agree with him on evangelism, yet probably do not have a clue about his background.

I discovered after the fact that Chuck O’Neal had joined with Voddie Baucham, Scott Brown, Mark Spence, Dr. Jason Lisle,  Jeff Rose, Ben Seewald, Jeff Pollard at the Evangelism Reformation Conference in Texas in June 2017.

 

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This was the only tweet that I found from O’Neal on his Twitter timeline about the conference. He’s known to post many tweets to upcoming events, so it’s odd that he only did one tweet before the event.

 

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However, looking through his Twitter timeline, it appears that Chuck O’Neal and his church, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, is also sponsoring/hosting and speaking at a conference with speakers in August 2017.

 

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Why do I even care about what Chuck O’Neal does? Why don’t I just move on? Why does it matter to me?

 

lawsuits chuck O'neal beaverton grace bible church

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The $500,000 lawsuit he filed against me was dismissed about 5 years ago. It matters to me as much today as it did when I posted my first negative Google review about him many years ago. He portrays himself as a godly man, likable, committed Christian, etc, but beneath that facade, he is a fraud. More than that, he is a wolf who devours. Those were the words I used when he took me to court years ago. But nothing has changed.

I care because while he is finding his fairly new niche in the broader evangelism community by making friends on social media and then connecting, these people with whom he meets and speaks do not sit in his pews. They do not see his behavior on a weekly basis. They do not see how he treats people in his church and people who have left his church.

It’s easy to say, “Oh, yea, I know him, he’s a great guy” when you only know him based on evangelism or pro-life connections, but that is not who this man really is.

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I’m sure that most do not have any idea that while he is currently “evangelizing” and speaking on evangelizing, he has anti-evangelized for over a decade and people have been left bruised, battered, and some have even abandoned their faith due to his abusive leadership.

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To those who have worked with O’Neal in evangelism or pro-life efforts, please be advised that when you endorse this man, fellowship with him, speak with him, you are endorsing a false teacher and a wolf. If you recommend Chuck O’Neal to someone who is looking for a church in the Portland area, you are sending people into the arms of one who spiritually harms people.

I get it. You think I’m nuts because Chuck O’Neal is so nice, wouldn’t hurt a fly, has nothing but the love of God in him. I know how he presents himself. That’s what I thought when my family started attending his church. Some who read this will doubt me. I understand that. However, after reading this post, and looking at the links, you cannot deny that the behavior described is troubling. It’s not enough for you to ask Chuck O’Neal about my claims. Obviously a wolf is going to speak strongly against anyone who exposes him. He has a whole website against me to convince you that I’m the one who is wrong and he uses all sorts of “proof” that I am evil and not to be trusted. That is foolish.

 

If you care about the Gospel, care about families, care about the spiritual health of people, please do due diligence and do your homework on this man.

 

What’s disturbing to me is this man has been able to pull the wool over so many men’s eyes. Have they done due diligence in investigating O’Neal or his history? All it takes is a simple Google search to see that there are many issues with Chuck O’Neal that show up on the internet. Has any of the people he is teaming with chosen to reach out to his victims? No one has contacted me. My contact information is pretty easy to find on Twitter, Facebook, blog, etc. If you would like to speak/connect with people who have been harmed by Chuck O’Neal, I can give you references.

Do they realize that:

  • that numerous people, including pastors at John Mac Arthur’s Grace Community Church,  advised him to withdraw the lawsuit, but he refused.
  • his ministerial license was revoked by the same group who administered it (I can provide names and contact information of longtime godly pastors who licensed him years ago, and then revoked the license).
  • he purchased domain names similar to the name of an ex-congregant in order to “phish” traffic to your site he can spread gossip about ex-members he sued?  Chuck O’Neal
  • he has encouraged shunning for years. If you leave the church, he conveys to the congregation that you were in some sort of church discipline (completely ignoring the church bylaws on church discipline). Many people who left the church on their own were later found out that Chuck O’Neal had “excommunicated” them. He hadn’t informed them of this, but this is what congregants later told them. Congregants were told to never have any contact with those who had left, or they too would be put on the shun list (Mark and Avoid list). I have personal accounts of this “church discipline” shunning practice used as a spiritual weapon by Chuck O’Neal going back at least 15 years. Here is only one story. I know of many others. In Chuck O’Neal’s church, you cannot leave well unless you are moving out of the area for work, etc.

 


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Special note to Jeff Rose, Dr. Edward Delcour, Mike Gendron, Mike Stockwell, and Robert Gray, who are schedule to speak with Chuck O’Neal at his church, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, on August 18-22, 2017:

Gentlemen, I would like to reiterate that I am happy to provide contact information to back up anything I mention in this post. My sole purpose is to alert you that Chuck O’Neal should not be standing behind any pulpit preaching, teaching, or speaking. Why do I do this? Because I have seen the harm done in my personal family and many other families. It is devastating. Please, please, do your due diligence! And ironically, I urge you to please do what Chuck O’Neal suggests in the tweets at the beginning of this blog post.

Blog Series: Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery by Pastor Ken Garrett, Wk 2

Spiritual Abuse, Pastor Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse in the church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery


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Pastor Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse, Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery

Pastor Ken Garrett

Ok, here we go, plowing through Pastor Ken Garret’s dissertation about spiritual abuse. I used the word plowing intentionally. For some of us, it will be work. It is not enjoyable to be reminded about difficult experiences. However, some push that pain under the rug and haven’t been able to process it in a safe environment. If you feel ready to do that, come along and join us. Even if you don’t feel ready, you can still read. And for those who have never experienced spiritual abuse, I’m grateful that you are reading, too. Having compassion and understanding is so important in helping someone who has gone through spiritual abuse.

Just an FYI, Ken has removed his dissertation from his blog because he plans to publish it into a book. Ken has graciously allowed us to continue using his original dissertation for this series. (Thanks, Ken!!!)

Well, let’s dig in. Here is the very meaty paragraph we will start with this week:

Abusive churches, past and present, are primarily characterized by strong, control-oriented leadership. These leaders use guilt, fear, and intimidation to manipulate members and keep them in line. Followers are led to think that there is no other church quite like theirs and that God has singled them out for special purposes.

Other, more traditional evangelical churches are put down. Subjective experience is emphasized and dissent is discouraged. Many areas of members’ lives are subject to scrutiny. Rules and legalism abound. People who do not follow the rules or who threaten exposure are often dealt with harshly.

Excommunication is common. For those who leave, the road back to normalcy is difficult, with seemingly few who understand the phenomena of spiritual abuse.

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Christian Blogger Invited to Speak at Free Thinkers’ Meeting about Abuse in Christian Churches

Free Thinker, Atheist, Christian Blogger, Thought Reform, Patriarchy, Spiritual Abuse, Cults




Last Sunday, I had the privilege of speaking at a Free Thinkers group. Privilege, some might ask? You bet. I will take any opportunity afforded to share the truth, set the record straight, and especially let people know that I, as a Christian, am displeased by the state of the Body of Christ when it comes to abuse and our response to abuse.

I feel I have a connection with many atheists. You see, when my defamation lawsuit went viral, I received over 500 emails of support. Many of those emails were sent by people who were harmed in the church, and then became atheist. This was originally a surprise to me, and  it saddened me. So many of these folks get spiritual abuse. They see the dysfunction and hypocrisy of celebrity pastors and leaders. Many of them are upset by what they see, and rightly so. If only those within the Body of Christ would get worked up about it!

It all started when I was in my Environmental Science class at school. Continue reading

An Abuse Survivor’s Response to Pastor Phil Johnson’s Insensitive Tweet on Domestic Violence

Phil Johnson, Grace Community Church, Sex Abuse, Domestic Violence, Twitter


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Blog reader, Christina, left an important comment on yesterday’s post regarding an insensitive and callous tweet Pastor Phil Johnson sent out regarding domestic violence. His tweet created quite an uproar on Twitter. Because Christina’s comment is addressed to Phil Johnson, I didn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle. It is excellent. Thank you, Christina for sharing.  ~Julie Anne


Response to Phil Johnson

Dear Phil. I guess you are a teacher, not a pastor, maybe that accounts for your lack of compassion. Perhaps we expect too much of you since you work and speak for John MacArthur, and so many people hold you in high esteem I used to be one of those, even though I am not a Calvinist, I always respected your teaching. Lately however, I can’t bring myself to listen to you. Continue reading

Trey Comments at “The Transformed Wife” About Working Women

Complementarianism, Gender Roles, The Transformed Wife

mind-the-gap

-by Kathi

In our last book post we talked about how God’s Design turns work into a men’s only club. This seems to be a big deal among the comp crowd.

Trey posted a comment again at The Transformed Wife giving his two cents worth about why women shouldn’t be in the work place. To me, it’s only worth two cents. Continue reading

R.C. Sproul, Jr. Steps Down from Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College

R.C. Sproul, Jr., Ligonier Ministries, Abuse, Reformation Bible College


 

R.C. Sproul, Jr., Ligonier Ministries, Spiritual Abuse, Spiritual Sounding Board

Twitter Photo (note the lock indicating the account is now private)

 

Ligonier Ministries has reported that RC Sproul, Jr. is stepping down from Ligonier Ministries & Reformation Bible College citing personal reasons: Continue reading

A Father Shares the Fallout His Family is Facing after Being in a High-Controlling Church

Spiritual abuse, children, mental health, high-controlling church, NAR, New Apostolic Reformation


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Special note:  I am in Chicago until 11/5 and would love to get together with survivors or those interested in helping survivors. If you would like to meet up, please contact me and let’s see if we can arrange a gathering.  spiritualsb@gmail.com   ~Julie Anne

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Today, we are going to read a brief personal story from Andrew. Andrew shares with us the harm his family faced and is still facing after being in a high-controlling, abusive church for 15 years.

There are a number of thoughts that struck me when reading his words.

  • First, Andrew seems to have a good understanding of what he and his family endured, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes this process can take years.
  • Secondly, he is not minimizing or trying to move past the current emotional and mental state of his family. It appears that he is appropriately addressing each conflict or bump in the road right now. Many times when people are in a spiritually abusive church, they want to move on so quickly (understandably), that they forget to take care of themselves and get their wounds healed.
  • Thirdly, Andrew is aware that this healing process is a journey. He’s taking a realistic look at where he’s been, what is happening now, and the work ahead, and knows there is no quick fix.

I believe there is a recovery process to get to wholeness after spiritual abuse. Process is the key word. It doesn’t work well to close the door to spiritual abuse and act like it never existed. It did exist and it did have an impact on lives. If we are quick to put it behind us without doing the necessary recovery work, we are likely to fall into similar traps.  When we go through recovery, we gain knowledge, understanding, have a new fresh perspective on who God is and how He relates with us, and we learn to forgive ourselves.  ~ja Continue reading

How our Pastor’s Biblical Interpretation Can Affect Our Understanding of Scripture and God

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This is a very insightful statement from C.J. Mahaney.

 

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Help! My Family Member or Close Friend is Trapped in a High-Controlling Church or Cult. How Can I Encourage Them to Leave?

How to help a family member or friend leave a high-controlling church group or cult: spiritual abuse, trapped, thought reform, mind control, freedom


 

“Mind control is the process by which individual or collective freedom of choice and action is compromised by agents or agencies that modify or distort perception, motivation, affect, cognition and/or behavioral outcomes. It is neither magical nor mystical, but a process that involves a set of basic social psychological principles. Conformity, compliance, persuasion, dissonance, reactance, guilt and fear arousal, modeling and identification are some of the staple social influence ingredients well studied in psychological experiments and field studies. In some combinations, they create a powerful crucible of extreme mental and behavioral manipulation when synthesized with several other real-world factors, such as charismatic, authoritarian leaders, dominant ideologies, social isolation, physical debilitation, induced phobias, and extreme threats or promised rewards that are typically deceptively orchestrated, over an extended time period in settings where they are applied intensively.”
Steven Hassan, Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-Selling Guide to Protection, Rescue and Recovery from Destructive Cults

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I’ve heard it said that losing a child to death can be a parent’s worst nightmare. Now imagine having lost your adult child and their family, not to death, but to a high-controlling church or cult. Imagine not being able to celebrate birthdays or major holidays together. Imagine having only limited contact with your adult child and their family. How could your loved one entirely dismiss you, act like you are a stranger or enemy when you did nothing to them? Continue reading

The Gift of Standing in the Trenches with a Survivor

 

 

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“Being heard
is so close to being loved
that for the average person,
they are almost indistinguishable.”
― David Augsburger

The other day, a spiritual abuse survivor and friend I met last year in Moscow, Idaho, posted the following quote by Dr. Diane Langberg on her Facebook wall. Please read it slowly and carefully. Knowing and understanding this could be the very gift you use to help propel a survivor in a positive direction towards healing. Continue reading

Pastor Chuck O’Neal Badgers and Berates an Abortion Clinic Escort about His Manhood

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Tullian Tchividjian and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Discussion: “He demanded that people be loyal to him.”

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The Fallout of Spiritual Abuse on Our Children

Children Harmed by Spiritual Abuse

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While the Board of Bill Gothard’s Former Ministry, IBLP, Claims Judge Dismissed Lawsuit, Attorney for Plaintiffs Says Four New Plaintiffs Have Come Forward

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Four Primary Conditions that Result in People Leaving Abusive Churches and Cults

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A Spotlight on Abuse and Death of VCY America Founder Vic Eliason

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Spiritual Abuse: What Was the Last Straw That Caused You to Leave Your Abusive Church?

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