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Joe Sperling
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« Reply #30 on: October 29, 2008, 12:34:46 am »

Margaret--

Good point.  There are many variables involved.  People go to church for a myriad of reasons.  There are even those who seek to "obey" God's command to assemble, that don't even know the Lord! Though the Bible does not call for "lone ranger Christians", everyone heals at their own speed, and no one should put a "time limit" on anyone as far as healing is concerned.  It's very possible for a severely damaged soul to be attending church, Bible studies, etc. and still be completely out of relationship with the Lord.  Once someone has regained the correct concept of God, and not the legally warped image they held for so long, then they are able to be a blessing to others, and to be blessed
themselves.

On the other hand, I do see what Tom is saying as far as perpetually being a victim. I remember a movie called "Sleeper" with Woody Allen.  He awakes after being frozen for 200 years. At one point in the movie he says to a doctor in an aggravated tone:  "I've been asleep for 200 years!!!?? I've missed out on SO much!  In fact, I would have almost been done with therapy by now!!"   Of course, his joke is that "therapy" with a lot of people who visit psychiatists is something they do their whole life,(or as he jokes, needing two life-times to accomplish   Grin) never coming to a place where they are "better".

But everyone's experience is different. I have to agree that one's relationship with the Lord, and regaining the CORRECT and REAL concept of God is the main part of the healing process when one has once been involved with a legalistic church such as the Assembly was. Many people in churches have never had an experience such as the deluded ex-legalistic church member has, so it is very hard for them to grasp the trauma, or to really help in the healing process. It is really something each individual has to come to terms with, and the Lord has his own time-table also for healing each of his wounded sheep. Praise God that he loves us so very, very much, and is so extremely longsuffering with each and every one of his children!  Smiley
« Last Edit: October 29, 2008, 01:46:40 am by Joe Sperling » Logged
Oscar
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« Reply #31 on: October 30, 2008, 05:09:10 am »

Mark,

You said:
Quote
Of course, you could say that as long as a person is regenerated they meet the necessary criteria, but for a former Assm. member there may have been some very deep damage to that individual relationship with God that needs to be repaired first.

I agree.  The question is how to do so.

First of all, let me say that I have not yet fully recovered from my assembly experience myself. I still have some mild PTSD in which certain circumstances can set off my fight/flight response and arouse quite a bit of angry emotions.  I have to be careful not to respond to people in this way, especially when they do not have a clue what they have caused.  I also carry around some alarm bells in my mind: A false teaching alarm, a mystical superiority alarm, and a legalism alarm.  Once burned, twice shy.

In fact, Monday night I was at a class with a bunch of pastors from the E. Free churches.  They were discussing how a church finds "the mind of Christ".  I gave them quite a bit of grief aimed at helping them to clarify, in their own minds, that this does NOT mean a process of unmediated mystical experience.  They were able to clarify that they were speaking of Biblical exegesis and systematized theology arrived at prayerfully and humbly.

That said, there are some important things to see about "recovery":

1. The first thing is that the analogy of being "wounded" and "healing" are applicable only in a very general way.  If my body is wounded my physical injuries set off a physiological process by which the body heals itself over time.  We can make certain interventions to avoid infection, set bones, sew up cuts and such, but finally and fundamentally the body heals itself, quite apart from our consciousness.

2. Damage to our souls is quite different.  We receive bad information and/or treatment from outside of ourselves.  We internalize it into our minds and emotions.  This establishes, over time, a strong mind-body linkage. When we percieve something similar to the initial trauma, we react emotionally according to the linkage already established.  This produces very strong emotions and actual body feelings that we do not like at all.  we can feel sick, have sinking fellings in our abdomens, panic attacks, feel week, angry, resentful, whatever.  So we begin to avoid things that trigger these experiences.  So, trauma and habituated responses are better terms to describe this experience than 'wounded". 

Time does not heal this type of injury!  The damage is always there, lurking under our conscousness and ready to emerge whenver we percieve a situation similar to that which traumatized us before.

I believe that this is one of the "strongholds" that need to be cast down by the use of our spiritual weapons.

3. Three of our most important spiritual weapons are Truth, Faith, and Obedience.

The enemy, the Father of Lies, teaches us his lies.  I believe that the Overcomer Teaching was one of them.  But there are lots more.  Take Busell's book for example.  The truth is that negative church dynamics are a very real danger.  They have existed since the founding of the church and can be seen in scripture.  Corinth and the church Diotrophes ruled over come to mind.  The lie is that we should therefore avoid gathering with other Christians. 

The corrective to lies, is Truth.  I cannot think of a better place to get well rounded Bible teaching than in a local church.  There, one can ask questions of the teacher if one needs to, and enter into deeper discusiion of the point as well.  This cannot, by itself, eliminate the problem though.

The corrective to fear and anxiety is Faith.  When the false belief re-emerges, which it will, one must exercise the will to reject it and focus the mind on the truth.  This is a way of "excercising yourself unto righteousness", and is profitable.  By doing this whenever the particular emotional response arises, one can re-habituate the emotional reaction.  Over time, this lessens its power to control you.

Then one can practice Obedience.  Obedience arises from the desire to love, submit to, and walk in step with the Good Shepherd.  The more one walks this way, the more liberated one becomes.

If we understand idolatry to be, "anything that takes the place of God in your life" we need to realize that our trauma can become an idol as well as anything else.  If it stands between an individual and being a joyful, serving Christian...its got to go.

Having said this, I fully recognize that it can be very difficult...especially if the person does not clearly understand what has happened to them and is troubling them.  That is where counselling and or therapy can be helpful.  Skilled, godly counsellors can help a person to understand both the trauma and its effects.  Many, many troubled souls have been helped this way.  Believe me, I know.

When a person gains understanding of what has happened, Truth has now entered the mind.  The individual has to impliment it him/herself though.  A counsellor can encourage and cheer us on, but we must become active and do the living out of the truth.

Blessings,

Tom Maddux



« Last Edit: October 30, 2008, 05:11:29 am by Tom Maddux » Logged
Mark C.
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« Reply #32 on: November 01, 2008, 09:18:40 pm »

 Tom,

  Thanks for the honest and clear presentation of your thoughts.  Each paragraph deserves a serious consideration and response and please understand that what I am going to say is not meant to be combative and isn't meant to suggest that I'm involved in a rebuttal.  My comments come from an earnest desire to make these things clear in my own thinking and cover some of what I believe are common misconceptions when talking about this topic.

  Sometimes I think we can confuse a strong determination toward taking action by seeing it as an all-powerful "exercise" of our faith that has power, in and of itself, to subdue sin.  While we most certainly must deal with our bad habits, using the force of our will to control our entire inner life is another thing.  Even if I get help in identifying what is causing me inner strife a resolute action of the human will is very limited and should not be identified as being equal to faith in God.

  We all remember GG's teaching on "Reckoning Faith" from Rom. 6 where we were to "take sides against ourselves" and by "the exercise of faith" cause the Spirit to work sanctification in our lives.  By different disciplines of "active faith" we could press the right buttons that would bring "the victory".  We also remember how this teaching produced a very hypocritical religious life in one, or a feeling of total futility in another.  In my opinion, the reason for this was it was based on the human will instead of God's grace.

  By definition, faith in God is trust based outside of myself--- in God's strong determination (not my own).  While Rom.6 does direct us to take actions against sinful behaviors on the basis of God's work of redemption we must put such teaching in the context of Rom.7 (and the rest of the NT).  Here we see the severe limitations of even a regenerated human to will their way to victory.

  I can and must take action to control sinful behaviors as a believer, but healing a soul damaged by spiritual abuse must include more than a kind of spiritual version of behaviorism---- where I treat the kinds of emotional damage we're talking about as just bad habits.  God himself must enter the equation somewhere and this is the kind of foundational work that I'm talking about when a former member is having troubling adjusting to his post Assm. life.

   Our understanding of faith can become kinda-like a faith healing meeting where, "if you have enough faith come forward and get your healing."  The idea is that faith is an action, (any action; just get moving and come forward) without which "faith" God will look down with disdain over our inability to claim our inheritance and displace the powers of darkness  in our lives (I realize that Tom is not suggesting such a thing).

   While I need to take action against bad habitual behaviors (smoking, swearing, etc.) what if as a former member I'm having nightmares from former abusive experiences in the group that still haunt me?  I talk to a pastor about this and he tells me, "you need to move on and forget those things that are passed.  Exercise your faith in the biblical promises and don't let your heart be troubled."

  When this doesn't help me it could lead to my thinking that "here we go again; I'm just unable to claim the victory in my life.  I guess I must be defective in some way."  The reason for this is that the advice to this person always seems to revert to "my faith vs. my problem", which is really my human will vs. my problem.

  For an individual with these kinds of feelings of futility trying to use the "try harder" argument or the "Don't give into the enemy" version of motivation will only drive them further away from social contact with other believers.  As I learn that faith is not dependant on my level/exercise of "spiritual" activity, but instead on God's attitude and actions toward me it will free me from the cycle of defeatism that keeps me from involvement with others.

  While a recovery based on my ability to actualize and control my soul is logical and provides help against certain behaviors it is limited.  In prescribing solutions that force a former member to "get off their duff and get back into church--- my goodness you've been struggling with this for years!," we miss the opportunity to really minister grace to a former member stuck in a kind of spiritually depressed state.

  Sometimes God deals with our spiritual lives when we are alone (Joseph, Moses, Abraham, Paul, etc.).  We run the risk of interfering with a very special, individual, and intimate private relationship God wants to have with His children when we try to dominate their faith by demanding their subjection to our views re. how long it should take for them to return to a church, etc.  (as in: "Lord what should this man do?"-- and the Lord answered, "what is that to you?"----).  

  It almost seems counter intuitive, but by supporting a former member's freedom and dignity as an individual child of God we are doing more to bring them closer to an effective life for God than by supplying them with "ought-to's and the like---- "Who are you to judge someone else's servant?  To his own master he stands or falls.  And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand." (RM. 14:4)  This "judging" has to with the inner workings of the relationship between an individual believer and God.  Again, we must acknowledge that there are boundaries here that we should not cross by offering negative criticisms of former members motives for why they are not going to church or taking other actions we deem necessary.

                                                                                              God Bless,  Mark C.

  

    

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