“An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?” Jeremiah 5:30-31
We see the Lord’s displeasure being expressed against those who operate an effort to control the people. Consumed with their own ambition, these leaders have convinced the people that their power is divine. Yet in reality, these false prophets are merely wielding their self-imposed influence for personal gain, claiming they speak for God.
“From the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. And they have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace” (NAS). Jeremiah 6:13-14
A common characteristic of an abusive religious system is that the real needs of the people are lost in the never-ending quest by the leaders for personal fulfillment and happiness.
And this has been my story. Part of it anyway. You will find my whole story in detail in my first book, ”Climbing Out of the Box, My Journey Out of Sexual and Spiritual Abuse Into Freedom and Healing”
When I needed to go to work to help support my family I was told by the authorities of the church I attended that I needed to forfeit working and stay in the ministry because if I didn’t I would lose all my gifting to ever do ministry again. For years I thought my gifts would not be used again and that I was disobedient because I didn’t obey them. (Until I was shocked when I began to see my same gifts used out there in the market place..aha moment.)
A church that repeatedly told us they basically had the corner on the market of Jesus and they had the fullness of God and His gifts, where other churches did not, and that if we ever had to go elsewhere, we would miss God’s highest.
A pastor who found ministry to be a vehicle for his great gain, lying and manipulating donors to give more and more money. He actually took the offering in decorated trash cans…(not lying). The wealthy had the high positions in the church. There was the pastor who had the men of the church build his home for free labor, stating, that as Solomon had to have the temple built before he could help the people, he, too, needed to have his temple before he was free to really be a pastor.
A leader who cornered me in a room alone, threatened me, and yelled because he said I was too “perfect” to minister to women. He said I needed to dress down and quit painting my nails if I wanted women to identify with me. He also said I needed to project being poor. I was devastated.
Openly ostracized and lied about to a congregation of people to manipulate me to quit my women’s ministry outside his organization that was reaching hundreds of women. ( I didn’t quit. I left his church organization that very night.)
Innocently called into a pastor’s office alone and watching him lose his temper at me, yelling with spittle flying, finger pointed in my face, falsely accusing me of talking about him behind his back because I told a sound man I was removed from the worship team and had no idea why. I sobbed so loudly I couldn’t gain control while he stared me down with contempt until I finally got up and left.
These are all true stories, and I could go on and on but,
…now, many years later I coach so many who relate their own stories of pain and abuse at the mercy of “godly men and women”. My heart aches for them because I know this is not Jesus. This is man or woman who wants to control and the power goes to their heads.
But, this was just the beginning of my story. Upon leaving these controlling ministries after 25 years of having a church building as home and family, I went through a 5 year sabbatical where I had an encounter with Jesus such as I never had, after being in church and busy with ministry all those years.
It took me many years to be set free from the damage that was done to my spirit and to be able to enter a church building without anxiety and tears.
So don’t lose hope in the pain of loss when you know you have to make a change. Jesus promises to NEVER leave you or forsake you. Even when you are brave enough to leave and everyone is saying to just overlook the sin.
When all the control and crutches are gone guess Who is left standing?
And oh what a Man He is…never to leave us or forsake us. He will reveal Himself to you in all truth and lead you to safe places to experience the true love of God in motion, and connect with believers who really care and walk in His love in confidence.
Things to look out for in your place of church community if you suspect spiritual abuse:
Do they say you have to blindly respect and obey them, without having earned it, just because they said so and they are your leader?
Do they demand your allegiance to them as ‘proof’ that you are a follower of Jesus?
Do they use exclusive language: “We are the only church in town really following Jesus.” “Our theology is the only sound doctrine.” Everyone else is missing the “deeper” walk.
Do they shame people, without grace, if they fail to live up to the church’s expectations?
Do they quote scriptures about “not touching God’s anointed” when referring to themselves? Yet they often confront sin in others, particularly ones who bring up legitimate biblical issues. Or they have their circle of influence take on this task, silencing their critics.
Do they cultivate a dependence on one leader or leaders for spiritual insights? Personal discipleship isn’t encouraged. Often the Bible gets pushed away to the fringes unless the main leader is teaching it. And if you have an insight from God they have to approve it before you can share.
Do they demand blind service from their followers, but live prestigious, privileged lives.They live aloof from their followers and justify their material extravagance as God’s favor and approval on their ministry. Unlike Jesus’ instructions to take the last seat, they often take the first seat at events and court others to grant them privileges. They typically chase after wealth–at any cost, and often at the expense of the very people they shepherd.
Do they hold to outward performance but reject authentic spirituality. And place burdens on followers to act a certain way, dress an acceptable way, and have an acceptable lifestyle, but they often demonstrate licentiousness, greed, and uncontrolled addictions behind closed doors.
Use exclusivity for your blind allegiance to them. Followers close to the leader or leaders feel like lucky insiders. And, of course, this meant they are more spiritual than the rest of the congregation. Did you ever feel like you are exempt from the “click” of popular people in the community of believers? Everyone else is on the outside, though they long to be in that inner circle.
We are all one body in His church.
You are the church!
We need safe places to gather together and grow together and share Him together. Don’t settle for less, and be brave enough to change if the Holy Spirit is showing you that something is just not right. In fact, run!!
The longer I stayed out of my ‘loyalty’, the move abused I was in the end. You cannot fix it!! Run!
There is healing and restoration from this horrible sin for both the ones who have abused and the victims of their abuse. Remember we are all an important part of His body. We ALL have gifts, callings and talents He wants to use. We were never meant to sit in a pew looking at the backs of heads while listening to one man teach, without using our own gifts too!! No one is more important than the other.
Be set free today!!
Call me if you need help with this issue and you find yourself sunk deep into spiritual abuse and feel like you can’t get out. Go to the home page from this blog and send me a message. Or please comment below.
It is my story. MY story! We all have a story. This is mine. I am getting ready in a few weeks to launch my 2nd book, 50 Ways To Meet Your Lover, An Invitation Into a Captivating Walk With Jesus the Lover of Your Heart and Soul.
A SECOND BOOK! How crazy is that?
Who knew this would happen in my life. I could not have dreamed that the little girl who was a victim of incest, abused by her spiritual leaders; the woman who endured seeing her own sweet little girl become a victim of the same travesty; the woman who had no self esteem, no hope for the future, and no idea she even had a gift to use for God could be here today proclaiming to you that God has made me into an Author and a Life Purpose Coach,
….and yet here I am.
Don’t tell me God can’t use you because of your past. I am a walking miracle and living proof. And He uses my past to set others free now!
You are a walking miracle!! You may not know it yet, but you are.
After writing my first book, Climbing Out of the Box, My Journey Out of Sexual and Spiritual Abuse Into Freedom and Healing, I learned that it is in our vulnerability and transparency that others can truly relate and be transformed by our stories. I learned to let my story go for the good of mankind, so to speak. For I knew if my story could possibly change the life on one person it would have been worth it to me and to Jesus.
Then I went a step further and realized that even if it was just an act of obedience and I was writing just for Jesus, it still would be more than worth it.
The surprise was that in writing my story….
I FOUND HEALING!!
And this is why I am such a promoter of journaling your story and thoughts and prayers to God. If you have coached with me you already know that. In getting it all out your story begins to make more sense, your life purpose comes into focus, and you find a cleansing of the past like never before.
So, I moved forward in my writing at first never really knowing if it was real. At first I had no idea what I was doing. It was blind faith. We use the tools and gifting God has given us….sometimes without seeing the completed plan. He grows us up to reach outside of ourselves to see others walk in the same freedoms.
And that is my goal, really; To make a difference in the lives of others.
I love to write but I’m not really patient to wait for the plan, the dream, to unfold. Especially if I have a vision of what I want to put down on paper. I can see it. I can feel it. I am excited about it. I want to do it now and see it published next week.
But then I wait and write.
And wait and write some more.
And then I don’t want to let go if it, again, and wonder why anyone would want t o read my stuff.
Looking at my motives I realized it is not just about whether my book will be a best seller or not, though that would be wonderful. It is about being me and being true to who I was created to be and to my calling. God has a plan. Then I had to face the fact that even if I knew it wouldn’t be a best seller, I would write it anyway, if only to reach that one person who thought there was no hope left.
There is a divine journey assigned to just me. There is one assigned to you too. It is a journey about reaching out, touching lives, healing hearts and being vulnerable enough with my story that it will truly make a difference in the lives of others.
I want to flow in His plan and not get ahead of myself. At least in my heart I do. My head is a different matter. It wants everything yesterday. It’s because I have this dream, and it is not going away. I have more stories to tell. They are not going away either. But when I am writing I have need of patience and I always learn in the process.
Maybe it simply means validation. When my books make it into print, it says to me, “Yes, you are doing this right.” I am doing what I’m meant to be doing.
So, here I am with one book published and one about to be published in a week or two; waiting for them to get in the hands of the right people through social media and word of mouth,
..and being okay with it.
My soon to be released book, 50 Ways to Meet Your Lover, A Captivating Invitation Into a Daily Walk Of Intimacy With Jesus the Lover of Your Heart and Soul is a compilation of my own personal journey– stories of faith, trial and temptations and humor. It amazes me that many of you will be reading about my very private times of intimacy with Jesus, and actually growing in faith to the place that if He can do it for me, He can certainly do it for you. At least that is my prayer.
It’s not as though I have a choice. I can’t control it, this walk of faith –not if I want to continue upward. And I can’t control the outcome or the wait. But God knows and His timing is always best for our journeys.
He zigs while I zag……I must continue to walk in the light of Him on my journey. It is all about surrendering to the process of growing.
Both books can be purchased on Amazon in a few weeks!! You can get Climbing Out of the Box right now!