Victims are all too aware of the shame that abusers pile on them. Often after years of being told by their abuser that they’re stupid or ugly or worthless or some other shameful false message, those messages can become trapped inside the victim’s head and, like a broken record, repeat themselves over and over and over until the victim wonders if maybe they are true.
How does a victim get these hateful messages out of her head? How does she silence the voice of that inner gremlin and instead be able to hear God’s voice? Pastor Powell discusses how the devil uses the weapon of shame against God’s people in this teaching on Psalm 139, and shows instead what God truly thinks about His children.
Shame: The Devil’s Weapon
Psalm 139 KJV
by Ps Sam Powell
Psalm 139 O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.
5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.
20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.
21 Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Pastor Jimmy Hinton’s life was turned upside down when a victim disclosed to him that she had been sexually abused by the former pastor – Jimmy’s father. Jimmy and his mother reported his father to the police. The father is currently serving a 30-60 year prison sentence for sex crimes against children. Since then Jimmy has worked tirelessly to understand the mind and motives of pedophiles so that we can better protect children from them.
Jimmy’s blog can be found on our blog roll on the side menu. We encourage you to subscribe by email to Jimmy’s blog so you get sent an email each time he posts a new blog post. Click here to go to Jimmy’s blog and then scroll down to find the box where you enter your email address.
Jimmy has a Free Risk Assessment on his website
Jimmy offers a free risk assessment for organizations wanting to protect children from sexual predators. Go to jimmyhinton.org to find the link to the assessment.
Jimmy can speak to churches and christian groups
On the ‘SPEAKING‘ tab at his website, Jimmy says:
Do you ever wonder how to approach the topic of child sexual abuse with your leadership? I’ve found that leaders in organizations truly do have the best interest of children at hand, but they usually don’t know where to even begin to look for outside help. Truth be told, I began speaking on this topic because I craved resources when our world fell apart. I agonized over the fact that nobody in my circle of family and friends knew that my father was molesting very young children. My life calling is to help other people ensure that they prevent abuse before it ever happens. It can be done. Here are some reasons God has placed me in a unique position to help serve you:
- I reported my pedophile father as soon as allegations of abuse arose.
- There were victims in my congregation and my wife and I walked the church through the healing process.
- I consulted with and trained dozens of churches and other secular organizations since my father’s arrest.
- Trainings are unique because I do demonstrations, showing specific techniques pedophiles and other sexual abusers use to gain access to children.
- I developed a facility walk through, where high risk areas are identified and solutions are given.
- I created a Predator Recognition Tool for identifying high risk individuals who otherwise would remain undetected.
- Prevention and intervention are my highest priorities–waiting to report abuse after the fact is not good enough.
- My research focuses on understanding the mind of the highly skilled pedophile and how they keep us fooled.
- I believe good theology leads to good practices and bad theology leads to bad practices–taking a right biblical approach is vital.
- I am a Certification Specialist for G.R.A.C.E.
A thesaurus tells my story…
I read a sentence today that literally jumped off the page at me.
I am just me, undiminished in size or power.
I kept reading it over and over. It was like I was seeing myself in a mirror for the first time in years. I was recognizing the true me for the first time in what seems like forever, noticing the changes time has brought. Not in a distasteful way, but a way that recognizes things are different and appreciating the beauty of the wisdom that has replaced the youthful glow.
diminish /dəˈmɪnɪʃ/ verb
1: to become or to cause something to become less in size, importance, etc.
2 [+ object] : to lessen the authority or reputation of (someone or something): to describe (something) as having little value or importance.
This has been my life. People at all stages of my life making sure I understood that I was of little to no importance, other than to serve their needs. It was imperative that I be reminded that I don’t matter and am profoundly insignificant, lest I step forward and (gasp!) shine brighter than my surroundings. I have been treated with such astounding levels of indifference that I completely believed the lie.
Now I am entranced, so I looked up diminish in the thesaurus and was blown away not only by the words that describe my life, but the antonyms that clearly show what I was promised. The thesaurus suggested another word with the same meaning as diminish — the word abase. That word told the rest of the story.
Main Entry: diminish
Part of Speech: verb
Synonyms: abuse, bad-mouth, cheapen, cut down to size, decry, demean, depreciate, derogate, detract from, devalue, dispraise, dump on, give comeuppance, knock off high horse, minimize, pan, poormouth, put away, put down*, run down, tear down
Antonyms: compliment, flatter, praise
Main Entry: abase
Part of Speech: verb
Definition: deprive of self-esteem, confidence
Synonyms: belittle, debase, degrade, demean, diminish, disgrace, dishonor, humble, humiliate, lower, mortify, reduce, shame
Antonyms: cherish, dignify, exalt, extol, honor, respect
These words perfectly describe my childhood. They perfectly describe my marriage. But I am no longer a child. Soon, I will no longer be married. So do they perfectly describe me?
As I said, I believed the lie that I don’t matter. Until one day I stopped believing. It was a small event and one no bigger or more hurtful than the hundreds before it, but somewhere deep within my heart the switch flipped. The dim light that had been shining in my soul, darkened by others too afraid to let it shine, broke through. And that light illuminated the facade I had been living behind, the lies I had believed and the lies I told to create this false front of “all is well.” I used that light to step out and start on a new path.
It is my time to shine and declare, “I am just me, undiminished in size or power.”
This post is by the woman who wrote Survivor’s story in response to Texas church shooting. We thank her very very much!
For further reading
Revelation 20:11-15 (ESV)
Rev Christopher Gordon
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Rev Christopher Gordon
is the primary preaching pastor at
Escondido United Reformed Church
in Escondido, CA, USA.
He is also one of the broadcasters at Abounding Grace Radio. Here is the blurb from their website:
Abounding Grace Radio is a Christian Radio Broadcasting Ministry committed to historic Protestant Reformation theology and the message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. We teach the gospel of Jesus Christ from all of Scripture as a witness to those who do not believe and to strengthen believers in the truth of God’s Word. At Abounding Grace Radio, we desire that all listeners would come to know the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Feel free to contact us with any questions that you may have. May the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ richly bless you!
You are also welcome to call us at: 1-888-504-8805
Twelve years ago the Lynden United Reformed Church, desiring to expand the local outreach outside the Lynden community, approved the weekly airings of Sunday sermons on KARI 550 AM out of Blaine, Washington. Airing sermons is a common approach used by many but is difficult to air without appropriate recording equipment. This equipment was purchased in 2007, which greatly reduced the editing hours and enabled Pastor Chris Gordon to record sermons in a more conversational manner. The new format worked well and the listener response was much greater. It was a humble beginning with much to be learned but the Lord has continually blessed this “local” outreach.
Twelve years of blessings later, Abounding Grace Radio now airs weekdays in 30 minute segments on KARI AM out of Blaine, Washington, KPRZ AM from San Diego, California, as well as broadcasting into the Central Valley of California on KRDU AM out of Fresno, and the greater Portland, Oregon area on KDPQ AM. In early 2016, AGR began to broadcast via shortwave radio on KVOH out of Zambia to most of the African continent. Abounding Grace Radio now has a population coverage area on the west coast of North America of approximately 14 million souls, and via shortwave to a population base on the African continent of 300 million!
The Lord has again provided additional opportunities for Abounding Grace Radio in 2017. A few of the board members met with management of KPRZ in San Diego in early summer. We asked about the possibility of a “drive time” slot, and if an opening should become available, AGR would be most interested. Within three weeks we were airing a second weekday time slot at 4:00 p.m.! Those of you familiar with Southern California traffic freeways know what a great opportunity this is, as all roads are packed, greatly expanding the number of possible listeners.
Abounding Grace Radio is also very excited to announce that Dr. W. Robert Godfrey has joined Pastor Gordon in co-hosting and will be heard often on AGR programs. Dr. Godfrey recently retired as President of Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondido and is a minister in the United Reformed Churches of North America. Dr. Godfrey has taught church history since 1981 and has spoken at many conferences, including those sponsored by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, and Ligonier Ministries. Most recently he has spoken at numerous locations, enlightening, informing, and helping commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
The Abounding Grace Radio website has also been instrumental in providing access to programs worldwide. The site continues to be accessed from all around the world, giving untold numbers of people access to the good news of salvation and redemption through our Savior and Lord. Given the great popularity of the site, the board has decided to give it a “face lift” which we hope to unveil before years end.
The board would like to thank everyone for faithfully supporting this outreach, most importantly and foremost with your prayers. We ask that you continue to be steadfast in prayer for this ministry. We are also very grateful for your generous financial support of Abounding Grace Radio via individual gifts.
To God Be the Glory!!
Some time ago, ACFJ shared a link to an open letter to pastors from an abuse survivor. I emailed the link to the pastors of our church. The response from them was positive. In addition, I bought them Why Does He DO That, A Cry for Justice, Unholy Charade, and Not Under Bondage.
When I spoke to the senior pastor a short time after dropping off the books, he told me that someone else had recommended those very books and he was very glad to have them.
Since then, I have noticed during his sermons that he has demonstrated a much greater awareness of the way an abused woman will hear what he is saying. Case in point, this past Sunday he was discussing Psalm 37, with his main point being ‘Trust and Obey.’ At one point he said something about ‘staying put’ rather than running away from adversity or trials, but then he inserted a caveat directed to anyone living in an abusive situation, and stressed that such a person should seek safety. It wasn’t just one sentence thrown in offhand, but it reflected his understanding that a woman living with abuse needed to hear the clarification. I hadn’t realized that I was internally reacting to the “stay put” until he clarified and I felt my gut relax.
When I spoke to him about it today, to thank him and tell him I’ve noticed that he’s been doing that, he said that he hadn’t planned to say that, but when he was talking, he suddenly thought about how an abused woman would hear the instruction to ‘stay put.’ And that was when he inserted the caveat.
He has told me in the past and again told me today that he believes abuse is grounds for divorce. And he specified that he doesn’t only mean physical violence.
I just had to share this story with you because it felt like such a victory. Thanks to you and the materials you provide for us to share, one more pastor gets it!!
God Bless you and may He continue to increase your impact!
We want to thank the author of this post, who is one of our regular readers, for sharing this story! Bless you and your pastor! What a fantastic encouragement this is for us!
If God put you together you’re not allowed to separate — says Dr. Heath Lambert, Executive Director of ACBC
It seems that the biblical counseling world has latched on to the topic of domestic violence. Just this last summer IBCD (Institute of Biblical Counseling and Discipleship) devoted part of their 2017 Summer Conference to the topic of domestic abuse. And in 2018 there are several conferences scheduled that will address domestic abuse: the Faith Lafayette BCTC in February, the Association of Biblical Counselors in April, the International Association of Biblical Counselors in August, and the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors in October.
Five years ago a person would have been hard pressed to find any national organizations talking about domestic abuse. Today the topic seems to be on everyone’s agenda. We have no qualms with organizations waking up to domestic violence in the church and starting to talk about it. But we do have concerns with what these organizations are saying and teaching.
Thanks to one of our faithful readers, we learned that ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors) recently addressed the topic of domestic violence in a Q & A podcast titled Counseling and Controversy and hosted by Dr. Heath Lambert. According to the ACBC website, Dr. Lambert invited people to call in with their hard questions and he would answer them. (No arrogance there). And, as you may have guessed, one of the questions asked concerned domestic violence.
I listened to the Dr. Lambert’s response. It was AWFUL and only confirmed that, yes, we need to be very concerned with what these biblical counseling organizations are saying when it comes to domestic abuse because what is being taught at these counseling conferences is being taught to people who are or are becoming biblical counselors. These counselors are soaking up this garbage and then taking it back to their communities and their churches. And back to victims — victims who will continue to be held in bondage by this evil teaching that parades as scripture.
Below is a transcript of the question and Dr. Lambert’s reply. For those who would like to watch the entire vimeo video, click here. The video is about one hour in length with the question on domestic violence beginning at 44:56 minutes.
So just who is Dr. Heath Lambert? Dr. Lambert is the Executive Director at the ACBC. ACBC is the largest biblical counseling organization in the world with counseling training centers and certified counselors in 29 countries. To read more about Dr. Lambert, you can see his BIO at the ACBC website.
Do you think there is a time for separation in marriage other than when there is imminent danger (i.e., emotional abuse, sexual addiction, etc.) and what would be your biblical defense for your position? If your answer is no, how do you suggest a woman can be best shepherded when extreme cases arise and there is much to sort out, but there is not physical violence?
And I have to give biblical support, which is more than fair. Okay so I will just let Jesus have a crack at this one. Mark 10:1-12 (ESV) reads:
And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.”And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
So Jesus’ response to the question “Can I divorce – can I get separated – for a reason other than physical danger.” Well, Jesus’ response to that is if God put you together you’re not allowed to separate.
If we were talking about physical danger or situation we would want to talk about a way to keep a woman safe, but I’m just going to let Jesus’ words there sink in and go uninterpreted.
As far as how the church could help her – what she could do. And I’ll just again – oh my goodness there’s lots to say about all of this – but maybe I’ll just read 1 Peter 3 1-2 “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
So you know: ‘Wives be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the Word.’ Even if some do not obey the Word. There’s a lot of bad stuff that a man who is not obeying the Word can do. He can do a lot of bad stuff. So this is a kind of a fill-in-the-blank.
‘Likewise wives be subject to your own husbands so even if they (fill-in-the-blank)’ – even if they’re doing all this stuff to me that’s not violent. Well, ‘they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.’
So this is a text that says you be a godly woman. Then that’s going to be really hard. And so how do we support such a person?
Isn’t the Bible amazing. Hebrews 10: 24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
This is a text that is quoted as a preaching passage – go to church on Sunday, be at the corporate worship for Sunday – that’s not what the author of Hebrews is talking about. It’s a counseling passage. Not a corporate meeting passage.
‘Consider how to stir one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some but encouraging one another.’
It’s a one another passage. You meet in a one another context. It’s a command that you have to live this christian life together. And that’s as true for the 1 Peter 3 woman as it is for anybody else.
So I would say to you – you’re asking this question out of a place, I’m sure, of profound pain. Men who don’t obey the word can do awful things. I would encourage you – Jesus did not stop being loving when he gave the command not to separate what God put together. And in fact he wants to teach you about his grace in the midst of your pain. And I would say sometimes we do things as people who are experiencing pain and we try to take this way out that’s our own way out and we think that’s going to be gracious and we think it’s going to be gracious because we think it would feel good. But feeling good is not necessarily what grace feels like. Sometimes graces feels like trusting the Lord to carry you through a very , very, hard reality. And you grow in your love and your confidence in him because He becomes what you need and not this fix-it solution to your relationship.
You can’t do it on your own though. So get with people who are going to one another you and this passage and they’re going to help you know what it means to be a faithful woman in the midst of a really really hard situation.
I’m so sorry for what your dealing with. And I just want to plead with you to find someone who can help you more than I can over the internet.
Concerning Divorce: We have a FAQ page, What about divorce?, that lists several posts.
Regarding supporting a victim: Our FAQ page lists posts and resources to help people learn how to help abuse victims.