Category Archives: Daily Devotions

Sacred Cows in the Church: Honoring Marriages over Lives

At least once a week we hear from abuse victims who tell us how their churches turned on them when they reached out for help for an abusive marriage. Today I got a particularly sad one in which the pastor told the victim that her actions were provoking her husband’s abuse. There is never an excuse for domestic abuse, and the effects of trauma on victims and their children can last a lifetime. Responses like these simply reinforce the abuse and lead victims to believe that their marriages are more important than their lives.

JoyfulSurrender.com

Recently our ministry hosted a conference on domestic violence in the church. We promoted it to pastors and church counselors, but the majority of participants turned out to be former and current victims of abuse. As participants introduced themselves, I heard an all too familiar story. Several mentioned surviving abuse only to find themselves being hurt again by their churches.

One dear lady said she left the church altogether after she reported the abuse and separated from her abuser. Her husband was in leadership at the church, and the other leaders believed his story over hers– even when she provided proof and got a protective order. Rather than finding help when she mustered up enough courage to reach out for help, she received blame. According to the church, she was desecrating the holy institution of marriage by separating from her husband, and there was no way she could convince them…

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A Promise of Peace on Earth?

I’m sharing the recent newsletter I sent with our Christmas newsletter from Called to Peace Ministries. If you aren’t on the mailing list, be sure to visit http://www.calledtopeace.org to sign up.

These days, I find myself saying Merry Christmas a whole lot less– not because I find the idea of Christmas offensive, but because day in and day out I work with people whose Christmases will be anything but merry. Some will face the day without their children for the first time. Others will spend it overwhelmed by threats from their estranged spouses, while others will endure constant belittling and ridicule from their current spouses or partners. We have a private group on Facebook just for mothers who have been estranged from their children by an abusive co-parent. I’ve walked alongside many of these women for months and even years. The power of manipulation and mind-games to completely alienate a child from a loving parent never ceases to astound me.

Abusers are exceptionally skilled in continuing to manipulate and abuse, even after their victims leave. From the courts to counselors and therapists, and even in our churches, they are masters at discrediting their victims. There are very few places for victims of abuse to turn for help, because there is such a lack of knowledge when it comes to domestic abuse. Every week we hear heartbreaking stories from survivors of abuse who have come to blame themselves for the cruelty they’ve endured. They come to us wondering if they are the problem or if God is mad at them. Both they and their children have a very warped view of God. They are plagued with anxiety and fear. Yet, when Jesus came to earth the angels cried, “Peace on Earth, Good will toward men.”

I sometimes can’t help but contemplate this passage. Where is the peace they promised? It seems that Jesus’ coming has done nothing to change the violent nature of this world. It can be very disheartening sometimes. How could a small baby born in a cave in the hills of Judea ever really make a difference? In his brief life on earth, he spoke of loving and caring for people more than traditions, but that only led to a great miscarriage of justice. Like many of our clients, he was mocked, beaten and falsely accused.Ultimately, his life was ended through acts of unimaginable cruelty. And yet, he came to bring peace on earth? Even after his miraculous resurrection, his followers faced unjust imprisonment, abuse and deathPeace on earth? Really?

It can all be very disheartening, but Jesus warned that his peace does not fit the world’s definition of peace (John 14:27). Most of us simply define it as a lack of trouble or strife, but that is not how he defines it. Instead he gives us a picture of comfort and calm in the midst of the storms of life (John 16:33). We see it firsthand with our clients. When they are able to connect with God in the worst of circumstances, something beautiful happens. We see them developing an unshakeable faith that rests in his goodness in spite of hardship and suffering. They come to learn that HE IS OUR PEACE (Ephesians 2:14)– even when everything and everyone else fails. However, getting to this point usually requires connecting them with truth to help untwist their warped view of God. 

So much of what we do at CTPM involves countering lies that our clients have come to believe. How can you entrust your life to a God who seems distant and cruel? What sort of hope can you find in a God who cares more about your broken marriage than your life? How can you trust scripture when it’s been used as a weapon to keep you oppressed? These are all questions we have to tackle head on nearly every day. Truth really does set us free, and the most important truth is that God is loving and good.

We’re so grateful for those of you who support Called to Peace Ministries! Because of you, we are able to share  God’s goodness and truth with those who are downtrodden and hopeless. There is nothing more wonderful than watching these precious souls walking away from bondage and into the peace that surpassses human comprehension (Philippians 4:7).  Thank you for the part you’ve played in this ministry, whether it has been through prayers, financial donations or volunteering.

We are so very grateful for each one of you, and pray that even if your Christmas isn’t merry, it will be filled with his amazing peace! 

Love,

Joy 🌟

It’s not to late to sign up for our advocacy course!

If you missed the free info sessions on our upcoming advocacy course, you can click here to watch a replay of the sessions. Better yet, you can sign up to join us beginning January 8th by clicking here. Our goal is to build a national network of faith-based advocates to help churches better respond to these difficult situations.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Your donation matched through 12/31!

Each year CTPM reaches hundreds of people with support groups, counseling and practical assistance, but we’re growing so fast we can barely keep up! Sadly, our limited resources often fall far short of meeting the needs we see. We have a donor who wants to help remedy that situation who will be matching donations up to $1000 between now and December 31st. If you believe in our cause, please visit our website to give now!

Why Nobody Believes the Victim

Although we are seeing positive changes when it comes to this, it’s still a huge problem in so many circles. Worth reposting.

JoyfulSurrender.com

How Churches Unwittingly Promote Domestic Abuse

The other day I sat down with a precious daughter of the King and listened to her story. As survivor of domestic violence and advocate for victims, I almost knew the ending of the story before she got half way through, because I’ve heard similar accounts so many times. Once again, I was grieved to hear that another church had turned its back on a faithful member, and embraced the abuser. Once again, I saw the hurt and bewilderment that comes from being first abused by the one who promised to love and cherish till death, and then suspected (even blamed) by the church entrusted with the care of her soul.

I’ve worked with victims of domestic violence for nearly 20 years, and in all this time a several common patterns have emerged, but the most egregious is that when they finally get up…

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He’d be Crucified in the Blogs

I came across this post this morning and thought it was worth reposting since a dear friend of mine is being attacked on a popular blog right now. I have added a footnote regarding these attacks.

 

JoyfulSurrender.com

Some days I just get weary of life in the 21st century American church. Yes, I am a part of it, and yes it does many good things.  When I walk through the halls at my church, I see lives that have been radically transformed, marriages that have been saved, and I hear messages that proclaim God’s unchanging truth. When I look at disasters in our world, I am always blessed by how the church rises up to help victims. However, when I look at the American church as a whole I sometimes get a little nauseated. It brings a whole new meaning to Jesus’ words about spewing the lukewarm Laodicean church out of his mouth (Rev. 3:). In fact, in the Greek, that word literally means vomit.  The church is supposed to be salt and light not curdled milk!

Is it just me, or do others have that same…

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I’m CONFIDENT!!

I still see so many people struggling with anxiety, and this popped up in my Facebook Memories today. Still relevant.

JoyfulSurrender.com

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. (Ps.27:3) I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. (Ps. 27:13)

The world teaches us that if we believe in ourselves we can do anything, but I have to say that my self-confidence levels are really not that high. I’ve lived with myself long enough to know that I can utterly blow it in the blink of an eye. Outside of the grace and Spirit of God I don’t trust myself, and I know that without confidence in his great love for me, I would be crippled by fear and anxiety. Even after I became a believer, fear was a constant struggle for me until God graciously used some trying circumstances in my life, and his Word…

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Holding Nothing Back

Trials can take us one of two ways…

JoyfulSurrender.com

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.” Ps. 22:14

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. Is. 53:12

 There are days when I think I have nothing left to give. I become so exhausted by the demands and tugs of world that I nearly shut down. Usually I try to figure out a way to pamper myself so that I can recharge, but when I think about it nothing I have faced has ever required everything I have. Even when I was experiencing the worst abuse, I was holding on to every vestige of control I could muster. When it seemed utterly…

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A Biblical Account of the Abusive Personality

One of the ladies in our online group brought up the differences between King Saul and David in our group recently, saying she thought she was getting a David, but got a Saul instead. It reminded me of this post. The interesting thing about Saul and David is that David’s sins were far worse by human standards, yet it was his response to confrontation that made all the difference. He humbled himself and repented (2. Sam. 12:13), but when Saul was confronted he minimized, blamed and made it all about his reputation (1 Sam. 15:15, 20, 30).

JoyfulSurrender.com

People often ask me for specific biblical counsel on domestic violence, and though there is not a specific case of blatant spousal abuse in scripture, there are numerous accounts of abuse. The very first example of family violence came very early in the history of mankind when Cain killed Abel. The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were known for their wickedness, which apparently included blatant sexual abuse on a regular basis. Joseph was abused by his brothers. The Levite in Judges 19 casually threw his concubine out to a mob to be raped, and when she died as a result of her injuries he cut her into pieces to show Israel how his property had been destroyed. Family violence touched king David’s household when Amnon raped Tamar and later Absalom killed him. If I were a betting woman, I would bet that Abigail’s husband Nabal was abusive towards her. Scripture…

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