Thursday, May 26, 2016

Healing from Incest Sexual Abuse

It's been nearly 4 years since I told my mom I was sexually abused by one of my cousins.

The Lord has done a lot in those 4 years and I wanted to write again in more detail. I am more than happy to write about this, so please email me or comment below if you want to see more articles about this part of my life.

The first part of the healing process involved me becoming born again and believing in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I had been raised in the Catholic church, but it was never personal in my own heart.

Jesus says in John 3:3 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Paul writes in Romans 10:9-10 “...that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

On June 16, 2012 I made the decision on my own faith to believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Prior to this, I was completely lost, insecure, broken and always looked to myself for my strength and for answers in life. I was always wanting to be in control of everything. Even my aversion to having faith in God and in His Son Jesus Christ, was largely influenced by the psychological issues that arose from the abuse. I always looked at those who believed in God as weak minded people who needed to believe in something to feel better about themselves. I didn't want to be seen as weak, so I didn't see any reason why I needed God in my life.

Well life began to show me many reasons why I needed God. Life began to show me that I wasn't quite as tough as I had thought. Life began to show me that I was not in control as much as I had thought. There were a lot of other things going on in my life that finally lead me to the Lord.

Often times, due to our own stubbornness, it may take hardship and trials in order for a person to realize just how much they really need God! When we can make all the loose ends in our life work out (even if it's quite messy), we tend to think we have no need for God. It is this mindset that keeps a person away from God their entire life. If you do not know and love God in this life, then you cannot expect to know Him or be with Him in heaven when you die. That's the reality of it.

We are All Sinners in Need of a Savior

For me the first major step towards healing was recognizing that I was a sinner and was in need of a Savior to forgive me of the many sins that I committed in my life. Many of those sins were actually in response to the abuse that was done to me. The sexual abuse left me as a confused teenage woman. I continued to put myself in terrible situations where I could be taken advantage of by people and had little confidence or love for myself. I burned my arms. I starved myself. I hated everything about me.

Those who have been abused have to recognize that they too have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Although your sins may be different or “lesser” in your eyes, those sins still separate you from the Lord. The good news is there is no need to carry them around like baggage because forgiveness of sins and salvation is a free gift from God to all who believe in Jesus Christ.

I Wasn't Looking to be Healed of the Abuse

Once I was born again and baptized, I'll admit I wasn't looking to be healed of the abuse. I was pursuing God to be healed of long term chronic illness and for a sense of meaning in my life.

But in my pursuing of God, the Lord knew what was to come and He also knew the things that needed to be done in my heart. Even though I denied it, God knew how much the abused had effected every single aspect of my life. God cares about our whole being! It was only 6 weeks after I was born again that my cousin's mom died and I knew there was no way I could go to her funeral. I knew this was going to bring up some awkward questions, uncertainty from family members and even contact from my cousin himself.

My cousin did in fact contact me a few weeks after the funeral. It pushed everything that had happened a decade prior to the forefront. I was in absolute panic and terror.

Abusers will use anything in order to try to get back into your life. They thrive on you “needing them” or they will look for situations where they want you to give them sympathy. Many even create situations where you need them in order to continue to abuse you. With my cousin there was always manipulation and control. Nothing was ever as it seemed and there was always something in it for him.

When my aunt died, I had to face a lot of parts of my life that I never wanted to face. Previously I had determined that I would probably take all of this to my grave. I figured no one needed to know about it.

God disagreed with my plan! Haha! Part of the healing process was God taking the veil away from my eyes and heart and letting me see what my cousin did to me. For a good part of 12 years, I thought what had happened was actually my fault or something that I wanted to happen. There were so many lies. There was so much shame. There was so much pain. All of that was keeping me silent and locked in a prison. God also let me see that my voice was important. He had things He wanted me to say and He still has need of me to be used by Him in ministry. This blog and everything the Lord has shown me in His church is just one example of that.

It may be hard for people who have not gone through incest sexual abuse to understand these conflicting emotions. However when sexual abuse is done by a person you thought you could trust and love, it really messes up your mind. Looking back I was trying to protect myself and I went along with a lot of things mainly because I was so scared! I remember during that time I was mostly just terrified and in shock. It was too much for me to bear.

After my aunt died and my cousin contacted me on Facebook, I cried out to the Lord in complete desperation. God spoke to me very clearly that morning and told me to call my mom and tell her what happened. I don't know how my mom dealt with it all since it was her sister who had died just a few weeks prior, but she listened and believed me! She said that my behaviors in the past were now finally making sense to her! I truly believe today that it was God who set that phone call up.

Groomed to be Abused

One of the hardest parts for me to face was the fact that my cousin and his father (my uncle) hand selected me to be abused later on in my life. I'll be honest, I often wonder if others in my family have also been abused. There was a lot of flattery from them in my youth. There was a lot of attention given to me. Despite being warned by my parents to stay away from my uncle, it was his son that deceived me. I remember the whole family came together and celebrated when my cousins would come in to visit. It was always such a great family event. There was such joy and excitement associated with my cousin(s) that I didn't normally have in my life. There was a lot of lying and story telling where my cousin always made himself the hero. Most of these stories involved violence of some sort and him defeating a 'bad guy'. My uncle was also known for being violent and abusive, so there was also a sense of danger too. Whenever you are a small child these things affect you more deeply than you realize at the time.

I had many cousins growing up and we were all very close like best friends! It was not uncommon to have sleepovers and hang out all the time. My cousin used these situations to his advantage to push the boundaries of what a cousin would normally do together.

Grooming tactics can often times look like innocent child's play or can sometimes be brushed off as “just a misunderstanding”. I specifically remember as I got older (13), there was more physical touching like grabbing my hand or brushing against my abdomen or wrapping his arm around my waist or tickling me in a very flirty way. I specifically remember asking my other cousins if they saw him acting strangely around me.

It's important to recognize that the kind of abuse that I suffered was not a single traumatic event that happened by a stranger or acquaintance.

I was groomed. I was manipulated. Boundaries were pushed each time him and his family came in for a visit. He pushed his limits to see what I would take or if I was going to stop him. At first I did stop and say no, but over time I became too scared to say anything at all. Most of my journal entries in that phase of my life said something like, “Does my cousin actually love me and want a relationship with me?”

In my mind the concept of sexual abuse wasn't even on my radar and the only logical explanation I could come up with was that he must actually love me. It was at this point in time that I began to experience what is known as Stockholm Syndrome. I began to experience a bond and sympathize with my abuser. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with his or her captor.”

All of this only added to my confusion. The shame, guilt and dirty feelings kept me trapped in a cycle of abuse. When he was not visiting the area, the emotional and psychological abuse continued online via instant messenger and emails. 

He said, She said

When it comes to sexual abuse, it is unlikely there will be witnesses to the crimes. The shame, guilt and confusion one feels normally keeps a person from getting help from family, friends or the police. As I said previously, I was groomed over a long period of time before the abuse began. They get you comfortable being alone with them, so they can do it all in private and secret. 

Many who have been abused, fear that they won't be believed when they do finally speak up. Unfortunately most of the time they aren't believed and the more status, fame or cherished the abuser is by friends, family and the community he or she is involved with, the less likely the victim will be believed.

Since I didn't even believe myself, I didn't expect anyone to believe me. I am blessed that some people have believed me. Many don't understand and haven't given me any further emotional support, but they do in the very least believe me. 

Looking back over my own story, I thank GOD that my mom believed me! I think my healing process would have gone quite differently if she had not. However at this stage of healing, I honestly don't care if people believe me. Most of my family is still Facebook friends with my abuser and they still talk to him as far as I know.

Denial of Evil in Our Midst

I understand that for most families, friends and communities, it is hard to accept that a person you love, lived with, laughed with and shared memories with could be an evil abuser. Imagine how much harder it is for the person who was actually abused?

Most people think that kind of stuff happens to other families and could not possibly happen in their own families or communities. I think it is because we project our own kindness and perceived goodness on to others, so we can't think that someone so evil could hide in our midst. Sadly evil can look good, sound good, be quite convincing and charming. 

Evil people do not run around with horns and a pitchfork.

Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:14-15. “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”

Unlike what is shown in pop culture, the devil can be disguised as someone who is good and righteous; not evil and wicked. The devil also doesn't live in hell as it is popularly portrayed either. He prowls around on the earth " a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). He is the father of lies who schemes and deceives people. This is why abuse can happen in churches, charities, good families and other places that one would not expect it to happen. Abusers take advantage of people's compassion, trust, love and forgiveness to carry out their own dark desires.

God will one day judge these people accordingly just as Scripture tells us. They may not be held accountable in this life by our own justice system, but they will not escape the judgment of God at the end of time. Knowing this brings me great rest that ultimately the Lord will set everything right. I still pray for the repentance and salvation of my abuser, but if he never comes to that place, then I know God will bring righteous judgment upon him.

Lord God Can Bring Healing

The Lord God can heal you from sexual abuse. I'll take it a step further and say ONLY the Lord God can heal a person from sexual abuse. I looked at other secular paths, but none of them did me any good. I tried to heal myself with self-help techniques and an EFT counselor, but it just left me feeling worse.

The veil was always there.
The lies were always there.
The pain and shame never went away.
The dirty and unclean feelings simply remained.

On the outside maybe I looked OK, but inside my heart was still dying.

There are many who are quite open about their abuse yet still suffer in their personal lives in various ways. It's important to be honest with ourselves and look to see how exactly the abuse may still be affecting us today. Even if it's 10, 20, 30+ years in the past we may see areas in our life where the effects are still present. It can manifest in so many different ways and it will likely be different for you than it was for me.

Some may not be able to hold a job or may be unable to remain in any long term relationship. Some may be using alcohol and drugs to cope. Some may still be trapped in a prison of shame, anxiety, insecurity and anger.

You can read more about the effects of child sexual abuse on the adult survivor here.

You also read more about the effects here.

Sexual abuse can even cause people to question their sexual identity too. I know in my own walk, I had questions and confusion in that area for a short time. I found myself in a gay club from age 18-19 in an attempt to hide from men who might hurt me. There was a brief time in my life that I thought maybe I was bisexual too.

The Limitations of Counselors

There are many limitations when using a counselor especially a secular counselor who does not believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

A counselor cannot take away your shame.
A counselor cannot take away the guilt.
A counselor cannot take away the painful memories.
A counselor cannot give you the ability to forgive your abuser.
A counselor cannot give you redemption, love and life.

It's important to recognize that a counselor is an imperfect human being (like you and me) who has their own set of problems and insecurities. They can make mistakes due to their limited knowledge and may even have a bias towards your situation. Even the kindest therapist with the best intentions can do harm to you unintentionally. Sexual abuse counseling is a very delicate process.

Many counselors and psychologists are unhealed from their own mental health issues and the job itself brings about serious mental and emotional problems too.

The EFT counselor I saw for a period of time was very liberal in her morals and values and tried to get me to accept things that went against my conscience. Some of her suggested treatments were for me to partake in sexual behaviors that I considered immoral. It was absolutely devastating to me! The Lord had to undo damage that this woman did to me psychologically.

If you need to see a counselor, then I would only recommend seeing a Christian counselors and even still, I think you must be selective in who you see. Some Christian counselors bring New Age ideals into their practices or use "inner healing" techniques that I completely disagree with. Many use practices that ask the individual to go back to each traumatic memory and to “look for Jesus”. 

I disagree with this kind of therapy because the victim can easily fabricate images in their mind that might soothe them temporarily, but may be detrimental to their long term healing and trust in God. 

In contrast to the limitations of a counselor, with the Lord all things are possible!

The Lord can take away your shame.
The Lord can take away the guilt.
The Lord can take away the painful memories (or at least make them less emotionally painful).
The Lord can give you the ability to forgive your abuser.
The Lord can bring redemption, love and a new life.

I think it's important to recognize that the healing process will likely be slow and quite painful at times. The Lord gave me instant freedom in certain areas of my abuse, but He has also had me in a very difficult wilderness season the last 4 years. It was during that time that He built a connection in me to Him. 

I truly believe the journey to healing will be different for everyone, but the most important thing is to be connected to the Lord and to listen to Him. Learning to know God as your Heavenly Father is so important to healing. Pray to Him and tell Him all of your struggles and get into the Word of God so that the Lord can impart His truth to you and begin to erase the lies you believe about yourself. The Lord can be trusted to take you through the process.

God Can Be Trusted to Guide You Through the Journey

The Lord is holy, righteous and good. He is perfect. He does not make mistakes. He is patient, loving, kind, longsuffering and most importantly loves us and knows us more intimately than we even know ourselves. He is all knowing and has unlimited understanding, compassion and knowledge.

The Creator can heal you in ways that a man or woman is unable to do so.

The secular counselors say you have to take charge of your healing by learning to change your thoughts, emotions and your reactions. They give you activities to distract you from the pain, but they cannot heal a wound in your heart. Many of them also bring in spiritual elements that are not compatible with Christianity.

In contrast when you come to the Lord, we simply surrender ourselves to Him.  

Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Only the Lord Jesus Christ who willingly hung on the cross for you, who bore your sins, shame, guilt, condemnation and pains, can free you from those chains. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can give you the grace (or the ability) to forgive those whom most would deem unforgivable. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can give you the peace and rest you are looking for in your heart.

When it comes to healing with the Lord, some of it will include a renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2) and an understanding of our identity in Christ. However, there is also a supernatural element to it that you won't be able to fully understand or even grasp. When a person is born again, the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of the person and they are washed clean and made righteous in Christ. For me that was so important because when my cousin stole my innocence and virginity from me, it made me feel like a whore, dirty, unclean and stained.

But the Lord Jesus Christ washed me clean of all those sins and impurities and He imputed to me, His righteousness. I traded my dirtied rags for a clean white robe! All of that dirt and grime and sins I had committed in my life, God forgave in the blink of an eye.

This is why I believe only the Lord can completely and fully heal a person from the trauma of the abuse and every other effect that goes along with it. Only He can wash us clean and make us whole and righteous. If you have gone down other paths for healing and have sought counseling, I am not here to condemn you for your choice. I am appealing to you as a fellow sexual abuse survivor to come to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

If you need to go see a counselor or therapist, then please do so! If you find though they are not helping you or it is just masking your emotions, then all is not lost. There is hope and healing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only our Heavenly Father can get down to the very depths of our being and reach in and heal those pains, hurts and fulfill our hearts, minds and souls with His truth.

Come to Him in your brokenness, in your shame, in your pain, in your anger, in your confusion, in your contempt, in your depression, in your anxiety, in your sexual confusion and everything in between. Despite all of that, He loves you and died for you on the cross and wants you to know Him in a personal way.  He already knows what you are thinking, feeling and He knows everything that happened to you. He is the only one who can make you a brand new creation. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Only the Lord Jesus Christ can save your soul, forgive you of your sins and give you eternal life. I believe the words of Jesus when He said in John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Call out to Him today and begin the same healing process that the Lord has done in me. I'm very thankful for everything the Lord has done and I continue to seek Him for physical healing in addition to more emotional healing as well.

If you would like to read more about my walk with the Lord, then please read some more of my blog posts below:

Healing the Wounds From the Past (Original post about the abuse from 2012)

Rejection Leads to Confidence-There is hope!

Knowing God's Love in the Storms

God bless!

Disclaimer: I am not a trained professional counselor or therapist and am only sharing my testimony and experience with healing from incest sexual abuse.  

Monday, February 22, 2016

Sonship and Identity in Christ Error (Manifest Sons of God and Joel's Army)

During this long wilderness season the Lord has shown me exaggerations in various aspects of teachings. When God first opened my eyes to these things, I went into panic mode because I was so overwhelmed with "how big" the deceptions were. I did not even know what to do. I felt so grieved in my spirit. Over time, the Lord calmed me a bit and now I am finally able to write (and publicly share) about these deceptions in a more clear, edifying way.

At the end of 2013 God really started to challenge me with what I believed. I've written briefly about this before, but God showed me that I didn't even know the basic tenets of the faith. Sure I could repeat catchphrases and taglines from specific ministries, but beyond that I did not have any foundations on the Word of God. God showed me that I had accepted deceptions in my walk with Him. He gave me an unforgettable warning dream that was a catalyst for me in the spirit.

Two of the things God showed me were:
1) exaggerations found in identity teachings ("Who we are in Christ")
2) exaggerations found in what it means to be "sons of God" on earth.

There are truths in these two teachings that people need to know about. However it seems in people's enthusiasm they have added exaggerations and deceptions. When we get revelation about a scripture and find we have been missing out on an aspect of God's love or grace for us, then we must be very careful with our next steps. We must not overcorrect and then find ourselves in a ditch on the other side of the road. Some examples of this are when a person gets hurt in the Charismatic church and then they become Cessationists. Or when someone gets hurt in a legalistic church where they did not have an accurately understanding of grace and then they go on to adopt "hyper-grace", "once saved always saved" or Universalism.

If you are in a similar season right now with God, you must be very careful with your next steps. We must not exaggerate real biblical principles found in the Word and we must remain balanced in ALL things. Yes even the good things of God can be over-exaggerated to the point where they become error and in some cases even heresy. I have had people vehemently tell me it is impossible to exaggerate the good things of God. I beg to differ! It is becoming increasingly popular for people to say that since God is love, He would not send people to hell, so there is no hell and everyone is already saved and forgiven in Christ. This is just one example of an exaggeration and/or misunderstanding of God's love, which actually becomes heresy.

For those of us who have confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives, there are promises that God has made that we can be fully assured of. However some of these promises are things that we will only inherit when Jesus returns and we are made like Him (1 John 3:2-3). Many today are teaching that all of the promises from God are available today. These exaggerations have created many paper tigers in the Church who are seemingly "on fire", but their identity as a son of God is based upon exaggerations and not on the Person of Jesus Christ. They are more interested in what it means to be "a son of God" and knowing their "rights" instead of knowing THE Son of God and surrendering their lives to Him. 

Many have taken bits and pieces of scripture here and there to make it say things that are not truthful. Some groups believe that not only will they see all these promises in this life, but that it is a requirement in order for Jesus to return. 

Yet the truth is the exact opposite. Upon Jesus' 2nd coming is when we will see many of these promises fulfilled. They put the cart before the horse.

First the Errors

Many ministries have gone through the bible and picked out all of the promises that we have in Christ. Ephesians is a particularly popular book where this is done inappropriately.

Many will read through Ephesians and pull out these following promises.

We are in the heavenly realms and have all spiritual blessings.
We are always holy and blameless in His sight.
We were predestined for adoption as sons in Christ Jesus.
We have redemption through Jesus blood, the forgiveness of sins.
We have all wisdom and understanding.
We are citizens of heaven.
We are seated in heaven.

Are all of these true? Yes, but not necessarily today or in this life as we know it. There are many promises in this list that we will only fully inherit on the Last day when Jesus returns to earth. Paul even states that the Holy Spirit is given to us as "a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession"(Ephesians 1:13-14). This is why biblical scholars use the word, “positionally” because while we can be certain of these promises from God, we aren't actually experiencing them now and will not until the end. 

For some people being told this is painful because they truly think they are in heaven right now on the throne with God. They really think they are in charge of bringing heaven to earth. They have been lied to that every promise is now and today and some think they can be immortal on earth. They have been told that God can't see sins and can "only see Jesus". Some have used many of these teachings to justify sin and mysticism in their walks with God. 

This is what they have been taught and they don't know any better. 

The promises themselves are not in question, but it is the time in which we receive all of these promises that is the point of contention.

I'm going to list 2 of the errors and briefly explain it to make this as simple to understand as possible. These are really complex teachings so please understand an entire book could be dedicated to these topics.

1). Some ministries exaggerate the Finished Work on the cross and say that once Jesus died that all of the promises made to us are for now on this earth, in these bodies without any delay to those who "know who they are in Christ".

2). Some ministries teach that as believers we have all authority in Christ and that we are in charge of bringing heaven to earth. They say we must pray for "God's will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven". Many use this portion of the Lord's prayer to say whatever is found in heaven, that we should have today, but only to those who know their full potential as sons. They make knowing your identity as a "son of God" out to be a spiritual journey very similar to what is seen in the New Age with Christ Consciousness and their understanding of "At one ment". Their understanding of being "in Christ" is more similar to the New Age idea of Oneness than a Christian viewpoint of salvation.

The main problem with these exaggerations is that they boast in man's abilities and create elitism. They deify man and make Jesus "just a man". They make the cross not a place of surrender to our will, but as a means to obtain power. Proponents of these teachings believe all of heaven is for the taking and we should not settle for anything less "as sons of the most high God". Many point to the miracles that Jesus performed and say that He did all of these things "just as a man in right relationship with God who knew His identity". When you piece all of this together, they are basically saying that those who "know who they are in Christ" should not only be walking in everything that Jesus walked in, but we will do greater. If you ask them who is doing this currently, they will say, "we are still growing in this" meaning that there is no one who is doing it. 

Many in these groups completely downplay or throw away the idea that Jesus while on earth was fully God as well as fully man. Here is a comment on a YouTube video from Bethel church that presented the Manifested sons of God doctrine. 
"Funny. Don't you realize that Jesus although THE Son of God emptied Himself of His deity while on earth? And in so doing, did nothing of His own power, just like Peter? Even Jesus had to use the power of the Holy Spirit just like we as sons of God do." [Emphasis mine]

This is absolutely not biblical and yet it is a common line of thought in many ministries who preach divine healing, Sonship, dominionism and Manifested sons of God. 

When we stop teaching the basic tenets of the faith in our churches this is how people become deceived. 

When we stop reading the bibles for ourselves and allow others to read and interpret it for us, this is how people become deceived. I was once there myself.

Those in the Manifested sons of God movement all agree that the risen Jesus Christ is God with all authority and power. None of them will refute that or even attempt to deny that. However they do not all agree that while Jesus was on earth that He was still fully God capable of using His divine attributes. They will say things like, "Jesus was God, but He did everything he did as a man in right relationship." They use this opportunity to introduce a known heresy called Kenosis theology. 

The Person of Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully Man. You cannot remove 1 aspect of His nature without actually misrepresenting the Son of God and denying the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ. This is not just deception, but this is in fact heresy. 

Unfortunately many in these movements misrepresent Philippians 2:5-8. The reason for this is because they believe Jesus is the man model that shows true sons of God what they are capable of walking in on earth. However when these ministries talk about "walking like Jesus", you will notice it is rarely about surrender, humility, righteousness or obedience to the Lord's will. It is ALWAYS about authority, obtaining power and performing signs, miracles and wonders. If they happen to teach on surrender, obedience and humility, it is only as a means to show people how to obtain greater authority, power and revival. This is toxic!

It is sad to say, but many who are following these ministries just want God-like powers. The thought of having access to infinite power is quite pleasing to our childhood dreams and visions of being a superhero. (You will see many in these groups actually love Superman and other superheros). I can tell you first hand, that the devil knows our desire for power and man's desire to want to feel special. We actually see that was one of the things Jesus was tempted with by Satan while in the wilderness (Luke 4:5-8). We are to resist the devil and all of his schemes, not rewrite scriptures to make room for them. 

Since Jesus was in fact fully God and fully man on earth, we have to recognize that He was special. He is different than you and I. He was not born of man but of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). He had no sin nature (1 John 3:5). God the Father equipped Him specially for His ministry on earth. He was not "just a man" walking in right relationship with God. He did not give up His divinity nor any of His divine attributes. Even before His incarnation, Jesus was and has always been God (John 1:1-2)! Jesus has always existed even before Abraham (John 8:56-58). Jesus was capable of turning the stones into bread in the wilderness (Luke 4:3-4). Jesus was capable of calling down a legion of angels (Matthew 26:53). Jesus was capable of getting Himself down off the cross (Mark 15:30).

Yet it was in His obedience to the Father and the Father's will, that He refrained from doing certain actions. It was not that He was incapable of doing it or that He ceased having those attributes. I do not believe we can look at the Scriptures and to Jesus' earthly ministry and make the argument that He did everything as a man with the Holy Spirit. They diminish the divinity of Jesus Christ in order to exalt man! 

The example and model we should take away from Jesus' ministry on earth is not that we can have power and walk like Him, but that we have the pleasure of walking in humility and obedience to the Father's will regardless of what that might look like. 

For me and my husband being obedient to the Lord meant walking through a long wilderness of chronic sickness. It meant being repeatedly broken mentally and emotionally. It meant extreme pressure put on our families and finances. 

For Jesus being obedient to God's will meant He had to suffer a horribly painful death on a cross. 

For some people the allure of having power and being seen as someone who "does miracles" is exciting. Not everyone in these movements have good intentions. It's not that they want to do evil with this power, but it is not from a place of surrender to the Lord's will. Many think they can "use the power of the Holy Spirit" as they please, but this is not true. The Holy Spirit is not just a power, but a Person in the Trinity who is God and also has a will that will not contradict the will of God the Father. 

The Truth Can Be Unappealing

Unfortunately when someone is told the truth, it can be quite unappealing. Perhaps even reading this today, some feel like Eve in the garden when the serpent tempted her to eat from the tree. The sin looked appealing to her and the truth spoken by God seemed less appealing than the lie spoken by the serpent. The lie was more fun and more thrilling than what God said to her and she sinned. I truly believe this whole movement is simply a sweet tasting lie from the devil that questions God's authority. His old tricks in the garden still work today.

In addition it is extremely untruthful and damaging for these ministries to teach that every single promise from God is what we should be seeing in this lifetime. Of course they all have disclaimers and excuses as to why we aren't seeing it. In my eyes it just further shows their insincerity. Even pointing out to them that the earth is still cursed by God and there is still sin, sickness, death and pains on this earth, does not work. They actually see the suffering on this earth to say it proves more people need to be activated and become manifested sons of God in order to bring revival and the Kingdom on earth. They have reasons for everything, which keeps their followers from asking questions and digging into the Word of God on their own. 

I'm Not Cessationist

The difficulty in writing a post like this is that many people will immediately label me as a Cessastionist or someone who does not believe in the supernatural. Yet I most definitely believe that the gifts are in operation today. I most definitely believe in healing, prophecy, words of knowledge, words of wisdom and discerning of spirits etc (1 Corinthians 12). I believe in the roles stated in Ephesians 4:11-12. One does not have to believe that Jesus was "just a man" or other manifested sons of God errors in order to believe in healing or in the gifts of the Spirit. One does not have to diminish the deity of Jesus Christ to believe in the rest of scripture.

I believe we can always pray and ask God for our needs (Philippians 4:6). The bible tells us the Holy Spirit equips us with gifts that He gives as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11). 

However we must always know that in the same way Jesus "emptied Himself", we too must come before God in humility and surrender to His will on earth. I believe Scripture proves that God's will for earth is in fact different than His will for heaven (Daniel 4:35). We see in Revelation this earth will ultimately be destroyed and replaced with a new heaven and new earth. The Lord's prayer was meant to be a prayer of surrender to God's will, but in these groups they actually make it about their authority and power. They will twist even the Lord's prayer to create unbiblical teachings. 

The truth is God has the final say in all matters and His ways are not always going to line up with our ways and our will. We are to confirm to Him and renew our mind to His ways, not the other way around. 

Repackaged Heresies of the 80's and 90's

The phrase "manifested sons of God" comes from Romans 8:19. "For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." (KJV). 

When read in context, Paul is clearly talking about when the Lord returns and not some time prior to that date. We see that clearly in Romans 8:23-25. When the Lord returns, that is when we are officially adopted as sons of God and we obtain the redemption of our bodies. Right now being adopted as a son of God is one of those positional promises that we can count on, but we do not know the full extent of what that means or looks like. That is what Paul was talking about when he says we are eagerly waiting and groaning in Romans 8. He was not talking about eagerly waiting and groaning for a super class of Sons of God or end times army who will subdue the earth and restore the Kingdom on earth. When read in context, the Manifest sons of God teachings are an obvious misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Paul's writings.

However it's important to understand that most who believe in these errors today do not use the labels I have used in this post! There are some who do, but it has mostly blended in with the teachings of “Bringing Heaven to Earth”, Dominionism, Spiritual warfare teachings, 7 Mountain Mandate, Sonship, "Knowing your identity", the Finished Work of the Cross and Hyper-grace. Many of the names used for these teachings in the 80's and 90's have been abandoned such as Kingdom Now, Manifest Sons of God and Joel's Army, but have been replaced with new names and new ministries like Spiritual Air Force Academy (SAFA), Sonship, Lifestyle Christianity, Azusa Now, Appeal to Heaven and New Breed. Any ministry that has a view that an elite end times army or movement is rising up should be looked at with discernment. 

Many of the same leaders from the 80's and 90's are still a part of these newly named movements in some capacity or another. They are becoming older in age and have begun to pass the torch to their younger spiritual children. Because of this, there are many new names  that are not well known, but are becoming more popular as the years go on. 

Understand though, despite the change of names or the leader speaking the message, the foundational errors are still there and need to be resisted. They still preach a message that an army is rising, which creates elitism. They still believe in exaggerations about Sonship and our authority. They exaggerate what the work on the Cross accomplished. They still teach dominionist ideals. We must recognize the actual teachings instead of relying on specific labels or names of leaders, so that we can identify them for years and generations to come. The banners of old have been picked up by aging spiritual fathers which are now being passed on to their young spiritual children to carry to the next generations. This is how deception is carried from one generation to the next. 

There is much more that could be said on this topic because it is so complex and so in depth. I hope to be able to write more about this in the future.  I hope it is a blessing to those who have read it and makes people begin to question and look into some of the well known names and teachings in these movements. 

Revised Oct 2016

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Bring Heaven to Earth? Sonship and Manifested Sons of God

One of the foundational teachings of the Manifested Sons of God and Sonship Movement is this idea that we as believers are charged with bringing heaven to earth. This is taken from a misunderstanding of the Lord's prayer, which was meant to be a prayer of surrender to the Lord's will.

This idea of taking charge sounds appealing to our flesh. It sounds appealing to those who are in generally good times. It is also quite appealing to those who are looking for a way to obtain power and purpose in life. Yet it causes believers to chase after men (either for prayer or for their teachings) instead of looking to and trusting in God Himself. The thought that a believer is in charge of making God's will come to pass is unsettling when you are the one sick, out of work, having marital problems, facing an abusive situation or simply got into a car accident. It is in those difficult times where we realize that we don't want to be the ones in charge of making things better. We learn we really want God to be working all things together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) and that He also works all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). 

I don't believe that every single thing that happens to us was God's doing, but I do recognize that in life things don't always turn out the way we wanted, had hoped, had prayed and had asked of God. We must trust Him regardless of what is going on at the current time. In the Sonship Movement I do not see this submitting and instead see a lot of finger pointing going around to those hurting or I see a lot of excuses from their leaders like "we are growing in this". 

The Manifested Sons of God and Sonship Movement insist what they believe is the truth. However their beliefs wrongly put our will, our desires and our limited view and understandings of things as the main focus instead of submitting and surrendering those very things to the Lord. When you surrender to the Lord, you are telling Him you no longer want to be the one who always has the answer. You are telling him that you trust Him no matter where life takes you. Sometimes life may take you to places you don't like. 

Maturity in Christ isn't about having all of the answers or having secret revelations. It is about knowing that Jesus is Lord of all and willingly submitting to that. It's really about learning that you don't have the answers. There is freedom and maturity in letting go.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Rest in Peace: Mandy Dobson 1981-2016

RIP my dear sister Mandy Dobson 1981-2016
I'm sad to tell everyone that my sister Mandy went home to be with the Lord on January 9, 2016 at the age of 34.

My sister and I were very close while growing up. We shared a room and bunk bed from the ages of 6-19 when I moved out of the house and got married. I'll never know how we got along so well during our teenage years, but we truly did! haha After she became ill, Mandy and I would talk to each other about our struggles with illness. Even though her sickness was very different than mine, she could relate to the frustrations I've experienced when suffering with an illness that wasn't visible on the outside. Mandy understood completely because she often looked great, but felt sick inside too. I will certainly miss our chats and texts.

Over the last two months, my sister's health deteriorated very rapidly. On December 23, 2015 the doctor gave her 24-48 hours to live and said she would never wake up from the coma. Well miraculously on the morning of December 27th my sister did in fact wake up. The doctor was shocked and had no idea how it was even possible.

I was asking and praying to God for another miracle, but unfortunately that was not how this story ended. I praise God though for those 2 extra weeks to say our goodbyes! She died very peacefully with my mom, dad and her 10 year old son by her side at UPMC Cranberry Place.

4 days prior to her death, I had a dream where my sister told me it was time for her to say goodbye. She jumped down off of her bunk and onto my bed, gave me a hug and then I woke up. It was one of those dreams I did not want to be from God, but now I will cherish it forever.

I never wanted my sister's life to be part of the cost of this season, but I choose to trust the Lord in all of this. Today was her burial and I felt peace, joy and assurance that she was with the Lord. God let me know back in August that she would be safe with Him. It's hard to say goodbye, but know I will see her for all of eternity some day soon!

Here is a link to her obituary.
Pittsburgh Tribune Review also wrote an article about her.
Mandy's birthday
Moraine State Park 2013
Dad's birthday celebration

Brother's HS graduation 2008
Christmas as kids

1 Corinthians 15:54-58
But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

Romans 8: 35- 39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.