Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Help for Pastors Who Have Been Spiritually Abused

Darin Hufford's latest podcast, "Healing From Spiritual Abuse," is well worth listening to.  Darin and his co-host, Aimee Dassele, share their own experiences with spiritual abuse and I'm sure many of you will be able to relate to their stories. 

Darin was a pastor when the abuse took place so it's been difficult for him to admit that he'd been a victim of spiritual abuse and, for many years, he wouldn't even admit it to himself.  Now, because he's begun to experience nightmares related to his time in that abusive environment, he's finally come to recognize the extent of the abuse that he received.

I believe that abuse of pastors is a more common problem than we recognize so, as a result, they do not always receive the help and encouragement that they need.  So many of them remain wounded as well as being filled with guilt and shame because they believe that those things just weren't supposed to happen to pastors.  At one time, I was very negative regarding pastors but, now because of my friendship with Darin, I've come to understand how abusive the current religious system can become for pastors.  Their difficulty is also compounded by the fact that the church is the source of their livelihood and many have not been trained to do anything else.  So, if they leave, what else do they do?  For them, it becomes a trap that they can't easily escape.

My heart goes out to pastors and church leaders who have been victims of abuse so, if there are any pastors who have found my blog, I want to encourage you.  I want you to know that God understands your hurt.  He knows that you were victimized by a system that cared nothing for you but He still loves you and He cares.  There is help and I hope you'll begin to reach out for the help that is available.

To listen to Healing from Spiritual Abuse," go here

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Out of Deception

I just finished reading “Out of Deception” by Nathan Miller.  This is the true story of a young Amish boy who along with his family becomes involved with a cult.  Over time, he begins to question the behavior and the teachings of the cultic leader and eventually leaves.  

Spiritual abuse is a major problem in the church and this book does a good job of describing the struggles and heartbreaks of those involved in abusive religious groups and their struggles to break free once they begin to see through the deception.  The following is the description given of the book.

“The unbelievable but true story of how Wil, a young, innocent Amish teen and his family, were unwittingly lured into the clutches of a smooth-talking cult leader.
Wil’s family was searching for something deeper, and what seemed at first like fresh water for a thirsty heart soon turned bitterly poisonous.
By the grace of God, Wil’s devotion to his leader, who was an excommunicated Amsihman, slowly turned to doubt. Finally, sick and tired of being manipulated, controlled, molested, and deceived, Wil made his break and escaped his leader’s grasp. Or so he thought.
This is a disturbing story of Satan’s deceptions and a beautiful story of the power of God’s grace and deliverance.”

For more information, go here.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

PTSD and Spiritual Abuse

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as defined by wikipedia is “a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma.”    

I recently became aware of the fact that victims of spiritual abuse can suffer symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and these symptoms can develop months and even years after leaving the spiritually abusive group.  This was brought to my attention by a friend who had been an associate pastor in a spiritually abusive church and now, years later, has been suffering from nightmares as a result of his experiences while in that group. 

Knowledge is essential as we journey to freedom so it’s important that we recognize the symptoms of PTSD in ourselves and in others who have been spiritually abused.  There is help and I believe the following links are good sources of information.  So, in order to understand the development of PTSD in victims of spiritual abuse, go here and here.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Dark Underbelly of Religious Leadership

This The God Journey podcast clearly describes the dynamics that occur in spiritually abusive religious groups.  I want to post a link here because, although there is a dark side to Filip's experiences, I believe his journey will encourages others to see that there is freedom at end of the dark tunnel of spiritual abuse.

This podcast may not be for everyone. While in Holland recently Wayne met Filip van den Eynde, a young man who had just spent 17 years serving in an charismatic, apostolic setting and was able to see behind the scenes as those who claimed to be “men of God” systematically manipulated and abused hungry hearts to expand their ministry, feed their own insecurities, and line their own pockets. Wayne spoke with him via Skype after he returned to the States for this conversation. While this is not as much fun as talking about the joys of a growing relationship with the Father’s love, it is helpful for people to know that those insights they have about everything not being as it appears, might be God’s prodding to find freedom from those who use the guise of “Christian leadership” as a means to manipulate those Jesus loves.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Finding Your Voice

The voice is meant to be the conduit through which the heart speaks.  Yet, the voice of the church has been silenced and believers are no longer able to speak what’s on their heart.  As a result, we’ve lost connection with our heart and many of us have no idea what we really believe.  We read Jesus’ words in Matthew 15:18-19 and we think that our hearts are filled with evil and evil thoughts.  Yet, the truth is that we’ve been given new hearts filled with the life of God so how can our heart be filled with evil.  So, what was Jesus thinking?  What was he talking about?

As explained in my previous post, Jesus’ ministry while on Earth occurred during a transition period at the end of the Old Covenant.  Since the New Covenant didn’t go into effect until after his death and resurrection, the words he spoke (those red letter words we love so much) were actually spoken to people who lived under the Old Covenant so they do NOT apply to us today.  Those words as recorded in Matthew were spoken to people who had not been given a new heart as we have been given today.

Our voices were meant to express what’s in our heart yet many of us have no idea what’s in our heart.  We sing songs that others have written and we’re told to sing them because that’s how we’re supposed to worship God. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to sing those songs.  There are many of them that I love and they do express what’s on my heart but, since our voices have been silenced, we never get to sing the song that in our heart.  So, although the songs we sing in church may be meaningless to us, we go along and pretend that we’re worshipping God while the true song of worship that’s in our heat goes unsung.    

Week after week, we’re told what to think and what to believe.  Week after week, we sit and listen to someone tell us what God is speaking to the church and, if what we’re hearing doesn’t agree with what is said, then we decide that we must be wrong and that God doesn’t speak to us the way he speaks to the “man of God.” 

This constant doubting and questioning of ourselves causes us to lose connection with our heart, the place where God live and, when we lose connection with our heart, we lose our awareness of him and of his presence and love.  As a result, we end up with what I call a second hand faith that is built on what we’ve been told instead of what we really believe.  So, we try to “witness” but we end up parroting what we’ve heard others say instead of what we’ve experienced and once again the voice of our heart has been silenced.

God is our Father and he wants to speak directly to us, his children, just like any other father.  I have two children and seven grandchildren and when I want to speak to one of them, I don’t tell it to that child’s brother or sister and then tell them to relay it to the other child.  No!  I just speak directly to that child.  God is no different.  He doesn’t use a go-between.  He wants to speak directly to us so we need to stop depending on someone else to tell us what our Father is saying to us. 

I believe it’s getting more and more critical for the church to develop its listening ears.  We need to hear God when he speaks to us and to understand what he’s saying.  We need to develop our listening ears by learning to trust our hearts.  We can develop this greater sensitivity by listening for the simple things that it might be saying.  Learning to recognize the desires of our heart is key since God speaks through the desires of our heart.  What do I like and what don’t I like?  What do I want to do and what don’t I want to do?  These are important questions and we need to know the answers.    

I’m finding out that by honestly answering questions like that that I’m learning more about myself and, in the process, I’m discovering my true self, the real ME.  It’s important that we recognize our true self because that’s where the life of God resides and that’s where he’ll communicate with us.    

“When Jesus spoke, he spoke to the heart.”  (Darin Hufford)  The same is true today so, if we’re not hearing God, it’s because we’ve lost connection with our heart. 

Leadership in the church is critical, however, not the type of leadership that we’ve grown accustomed to.  I’m becoming more and more convinced that the function of leadership isn’t to tell us what God is saying but to help us develop our own listening ears so we can hear him for ourselves without a go-between.  When that happens, we’ll become mature sons and daughters of God.  However, for the church to move into the fullness of what he has for us, we need to re-connect with our heart.  Only then, will our voice be able to speak from the life of God that is in our heart.
Silencing the voice of the heart is a common tool used by spiritually abusive groups in order to control their members.  Once we leave those groups, we often discover that we have no voice other than to echo the voice of the abusive leader.  It's s difficult journey to freedom but it's critically important for us to re-connect with our heart and discover our own voice.   

I’d love to hear some of your stories about how you’ve been able to find your voice and the freedom to express what’s really on your heart.  If you’d like to share your experiences,  please post a comment.  I believe it would be encouraging to others who are just starting this journey to freedom. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Unfriending My Abuser

I've found that there are certain patterns that are true in all forms of abuse so, although the main topic of this post is sexual abuse, I think it would also be helpful for those who have been victimized by spiritual abuse.  Go here to read this post.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Book Review

This review was posted online regarding Barbara Orlowski's book "Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness."

This was an excellent review and I believe it gives a good overview regarding the information presented in the book.  As the reviewer has said, Dr. Orlowski's book would be an excellent resource for church leaders as well as for those who have been victimized by spiritual abuse.  A copy of her book may be ordered through her website: