Life in the Kingdom of Men
by Ps Sam Powell
Ecclesiastes 4 (KJV)
Chapter 4 So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.
2 Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.
3 Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.
4 Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.
5 The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.
6 Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.
7 Then I returned, and I saw vanity under the sun.
8 There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.
9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
13 Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished.
14 For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.
15 I considered all the living which walk under the sun, with the second child that shall stand up in his stead.
16 There is no end of all the people, even of all that have been before them: they also that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and vexation of spirit.
Listen to the sermon by clicking on the link above.
[Go to part 4 of the series]
And here is a hymn about how Jesus comforts the oppressed. The first version is massed congregational singing with lyrics. The second is very sensitively played on the piano with the score and lyrics.
Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause. For they do not speak peace, but against those who are quiet in the land they devise words of deceit. (Psalm 35:19-20)
As we have written in other posts, it is very characteristic of evil people to use non-verbal means to communicate their abuse on others. One of these dastardly dark tricks is the evil man saying “I must not say anymore. I don’t want to gossip.” His intent with this false saintliness is to cover up, to hide truth, and to pressure others into being silent about evil as well. There is absolutely nothing saintly about such a person. He is a child of the darkness.
Let me illustrate more clearly how this works. Let’s say you are discussing some evil that has come to light. Perhaps the case of a church leader or member for instance whose hidden sin has become known, at least to some. Now, wicked people share this in common — they all lead secret lives, they dwell in hidden sin, they wear a falsely pious mask. So when some other cohort in darkness is threatened with exposure, they become very uncomfortable. And often they launch attempts to shut down any discussion, any light-shining exposure of such a fellow’s wickedness. (I have known some cases when we would have to insert “she” for “he” in our discussion here).
I have seen a couple of common means by which evil ones turn off the light of exposure —
- “I just don’t think I should say anymore about this. I probably have already said too much.” This kind of serpent-like craftiness most typically comes right after the evil man has said something like, “I think you are guilty of unforgiveness.” Then, when asked to explain and expound on that accusation, the shutdown comes — “I just don’t think I can say anymore about this. I probably should not have said anything at all.” Having effectively sown seed of accusation, he now uses a sickening “holy saintliness” to let everyone know that further discussion of the subject would be sin.
- Another way I have seen this same tactic used over and over again is in what I will call “Agenda Control.” This happens at church meetings or at denominational general assemblies. Some evil has occurred. Perhaps some notable pastor has been arrested and charged with molesting children. And right at the start of the meeting, the power-broker(s) stands up and says something like this: “Now, we do not want our meeting to become gossiping. We want to keep things positive and edifying. Here specifically is what we are here to discuss and we must stick to the stated agenda. If anyone wanders from it they will forfeit the floor.” So darkness reigns you see. Any opportunity for open, up-front exposure of truth is shut down.
- Those in power in churches and other “Christian” organizations will use the same type of tactic to promote their own desires, to get the vote outcome they want, all the while making it appear like they have allowed everyone to have input. “No, we are not here tonight to discuss that issue. We are here to have this motion put before us and to vote.” Anyone who would attempt to point out how sinful use of power and control has been at work in the proceedings is immediately deemed ‘out of order’ and their right to be heard forfeited. “We must not say too much lest we slander a brother. You need to be silent.” That’s how the thing goes, you see.
Domestic abusers and their allies do these very things. They plant a seed of accusation against their victim, but when the victim or anyone else seeking justice begins to expose the evil, the wicked man works to shut down discussion. “Now, you are saying too much. You are gossiping. You don’t have enough facts to even bring these issues up. You need to follow my example and keep silent.”
The real problem among us is not so much GOSSIP, as it is NOT TALKING about evil working in our midst at all!
There have been many “Christian” books published on the evils of the tongue. Yes, the tongue can be set on fire by hell. But generally we have been taught wrongly about just what kind of person has such a tongue. We have been told that it is the victim who is bringing the crimes and evils of the abuser to light. Wrong! It is the abuser and power-lusting Diotrephes (see 3 John) who is speaking to shut down that victim.
In contrast to all of this hiding and darkness that is so typical of evil, we have the command of King Jesus given to us through His Apostle. Notice His rebuke of those who were keeping quiet about (tolerating the evil of) the wicked man:
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Cor 5:1-7)
One final but very important point regarding all this. THERE COMES A TIME WHEN ANYONE HAVING KNOWLEDGE OF WICKEDNESS MUST SPEAK OUT. Even if that speaking out means standing up and speaking ‘out of order’ at a church meeting or other such setting. If denominational or church association leaders for instance will not provide an open platform at a general assembly or other such church meeting, then it is time to violate ‘rules of order’. Like the prophets and apostles of old, and like our Lord Himself, it is time to stand up in the temple and cry out “there is wickedness here!” And then spill the beans openly even while the ‘pillars’ are gnashing their teeth and trying to shout you down.
Oh, and one other final thing — take care that, if you should ever see such a person standing up to expose hidden evil — take care that you do not immediately regard them as some ‘troublemaker’. Many of the Lord’s chosen people have done some pretty strange things to call wickedness to account .
Our society is replete with philosophies that say that when something bad happens between two people, they have each played a part in why the injurious interaction occurred. Many self-help books teach readers to assume that they have “co-created” any emotional wound that happens to them. Therapists are fond of saying, “Let’s look at what you brought to that interaction,” after a client describes an experience where he or she was mistreated. And you’ve undoubtedly heard the expression “It takes two to tango.”
These philosophies do not apply when we’re talking about human cruelty. In the vast majority of cases where people are subjected to cruel treatment, they have done absolutely nothing wrong. And in the few remaining cases where they have done something bad, it’s still unacceptable to be cruel to them.
There are, of course, some times when two people are equally responsible for why a hurtful exchange took place. But sometimes the responsibility is 70-30. And plenty of times one person did nothing whatsoever to contribute to what went wrong; the whole problem was created by the other person. Where did people come up with the ridiculous idea that responsibility is always 50-50? The assumption that responsibility in a relationship is always equal ends up doing particular harm to women who have abusive or controlling partners. You have 0 percent of the responsibility for why he mistreats you. You are responsible for your actions, not his. Don’t let anyone — including your partner — rope you into sharing the blame for his actions or his issues.
[entry from Lundy Bancroft’s book, Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That?* pp67-68]
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Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there. (Gen 24:6)
A “Hoover” is a metaphor taken from the popular brand of vacuum cleaners, to describe how an abuse victim (trying to assert her own rights by leaving or limiting contact in a dysfunctional relationship), gets “sucked back in” when the perpetrator temporarily exhibits improved or desirable behavior. It is a fairly new term and I think it is perfectly descriptive of one of the tenets of post-separation abuse philosophy. Yet another term to help us to be able to describe what often feels indescribable in the confusing moment of the abuse.
A lot of times, hoovering happens after a person sets firmer boundaries. I remember how I felt shortly after I left my ex husband five years ago. It had been three agonizing weeks since our departure. My return tickets to Europe were about to expire. I had received an email from trusted friends that my ex husband had changed. They encouraged me to go back home. My ex had also been confessing his short-comings as a husband and father. He had been (almost) begging and telling me that he simply could not live, anymore, without me. I felt torn . . . I was being sucked back in . . . I had a minuscule portion of hope that maybe he had changed. I was being hoovered.
I had been so lonely and sad. I was hungry for some sort of affirmation and just . . . to feel loved. My ex knew all of the right love-buttons to press and I was tempted. It started to feel easier to go back to him than face the other road of uncertainty. Just in time, however, a friend sent me an email he had received from my ex that day — an email that displayed all of my abusive ex’s worst qualities. He was verbally abusive to my friend and was writing about me as though I were a piece of property. I never went back and I never looked back. From that moment on, it was over for me. But being hoovered was what I knew in my relationship with him and with several others, in my life.
Hoovering feels fuzzy and warm so it draws us back in
It is familiar. And it is temporary, like so many other unhealthy behaviors that abusers exhibit. It is not our fault. But, when we succumb, it will not be long before he will take away the little bit of life that we were developing right out of us and leave us hurting and broken again, whether it is invalidating, giving the silent treatment or another favorite form of abuse. When this used to happen to me, I was bereft of my self-respect.
Other tactics include pretending like nothing happened, asking an “innocent” question or whatever it takes to break down your boundary.
Humbly, and recognizing that we are all different and all of our relationships are different, I want to share with you how I broke this cycle, in my own life.
1. I recognized the hoovering, as it was happening. That was half the battle. I decided I would rather be alone than allow myself to be treated the way I was being treated.
2. I responded to any emotionally charged texts or emails (extreme emotions, whether it be super lovey-dovey, hyper-spiritual or full of hate and blame) only when I had to and with a BIFF* response.
3. I realized that I had to work extra hard to seal my boundaries and I stuck to my guns.
4. As always, I stayed safe. If tempers were escalating, I got the heck outta’ Dodge or called a friend. Please do not be afraid to call the police.
5. I found a lot of support and I was not afraid to call someone if I was feeling weak.
I would also like to point out that I have noticed abusers can also “discard” a victim quickly, which may be a good thing but can be very painful. Chances are, the abuser has found another target, which is sad for her. She may not know what is coming.
In closing, please be at peace. The boundaries or separation or divorce that you instigated may actually be the most loving choice that you had, in your situation, for yourself and the one abusing you. I very much see it that way, in my life and experience. My ex husband and I had been through three years of counseling with a few different counselors. My ex was not going to change. If I had stayed and he would have genuinely consented to real and lasting change, it would have taken him a decade of intensive therapy. In one decade, my children would have been ruined. My leaving may have been the jolt that he needed to get himself together and stop using and taking from God’s children. I have no idea. But, the chance was there for him. As long as I stayed, he had me to hoover . . . he had his crutch and he had his supply. He would not have been able to resist because it was our way of life. And there was no one to fight for me and I had no fight left in me.
Setting boundaries is the real kind of healthy self-love that restored my dignity and self-respect. I became a different person when I began to love myself in a godly way. I’m praying for you tonight, dear reader, that the hoovering ends, once and for all, and that you press on and fill your empty cup again and feed your soul again. That soul, after all, is a beautiful God-breathed entity . . . that He cares about very much.
This is a guest post by our friend Megan Cox. Many thanks to her!
*What is a BIFF response? See this post: A Review of “BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People” by Bill Eddy
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is someone we have called out before for teachings which harm victims of abuse and for promoting ESS, the false doctrine of Eternal Submission of the Son. I have just found out that she is dangerous in other ways as well. This is no surprise to me. If someone has a faulty doctrine of the Trinity, and if they are unable to teach in a way that does not endanger victims of domestic abuse, they are most likely to be ‘off’ in other ways as well. Here are the two things I have found. Full documentation is given in the links.
1. Nancy mixes Witchcraft Circle-Making with Christianity
At Pulpit and Pen, the article Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth Mixes Pagan Witchcraft Circle-Making With Christianity gives detailed documentation proving that Nancy DeMoss (now Wolgemuth) was standing and praying with other women in a circle drawn on the platform, and that Nancy has endorsed the so-called evangelist named Rodney “Gipsy” Smith. It is important to know that “Gypsy” Smith taught the circle-drawing practice to Christians while being fully aware that the practice derived from gypsy witchcraft. Read the above link for further info about that witchcraft practice and how it has crept into ‘c’hristian circles.
On the broadcast Inside This Circle (Revive our Hearts, Seeking Him Radio), Nancy says:
Gypsy Smith was a nineteenth-century revivalist who did something unusual when he came to a new town. He’d stop on the outskirts and draw a circle in the dirt. Then he would stand inside that circle and say, “O God, please send a revival to this town, and let it begin inside this circle.
2. Nancy is so undiscerning that she has quoted Richard Foster, without warning her readers that he is a gnostic heretic.
The Pulpit and Pen article pointed to an article at ApprisingMinistries which documents another problem with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s doctrine and level of discernment. That article, Nancy Leigh DeMoss Turns Readers to Richard Foster for Guidance, demonstrates that Nancy was approvingly quoting from Richard Foster who is gnostic and teaches the heretical doctrines and practices of ‘contemplative Christianity’ and who is strongly influenced by eastern pagan religions and Roman Catholicism.
I followed the links given in that article about Nancy endorsing Richard Foster. I found that on Nancy’s website Revive Our Hearts, she has a transcript of her talk Potential Pitfalls of Servanthood. It’s obvious, reading that transcript and comparing it with what was quoted on the Apprising Ministries article, that Nancy or her minders have now removed the bit where she approvingly quoted from Richard Foster. But in the comments thread on her transcript, some of the commenters reproved her for having quoted Foster — so it’s without doubt that she had originally quoted Foster.
Despite Nancy scrubbing her Foster quote, she made no admission of fault or apology to her readers. She just scrubbed the quote from Foster. It is typical of false teachers to just scrub their ‘mistakes’ but never admit fault or publicly apologize.
If Nancy later realized that Richard Foster is a false teacher, and it was not wise of her to have quoted him so approvingly, why didn’t she then warn her readers that Foster is dangerous?
I am so thankful that I was in the New Age before I came to Christ. It made me hyper-vigilant to pagan ideas infecting in the church. After I became a Christian and had a good grounding in Christian doctrine, I did a lot of research into many branches of paganism and satanic and gnostic teaching. That research, coupled with my previous experience in the New Age, has helped me recognize the red flags. So many Christian are ignorant about these red flags.
I am thankful for Rachel Miller’s post Does It Matter What Women Are Taught? on which the commenter, NJ, pointed to the article “Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth Mixes Pagan Witchcraft Circle-Making With Christianity”. This is an example of the true body of Christ helping each other to
- stay awake and alert
- keep oil in our lamps
- not neglect to fellowship together, especially as the day approaches.
(Matt 26:40-45; Heb 10:25; Matt 24:42; 25:1-13)
Rachel Miller’s post gives more proof that Nancy teaches ESS. And Rachel brilliantly applies what Aimee Byrd says in her new book, No Little Women, to show how Nancy’s teaching is dangerous.
TRUE WOMAN 101: DIVINE DESIGN – a review by Rachel Miller (shows how Nancy teaches ESS, the aberrant doctrine of the Eternal Subordination of the Son)
Does it Matter What Women Are Taught? by Rachel Miller
The Relentless Flow of Time
by Pastor Sam Powell
Ecclesiastes 3 (KJV)
Chapter 3 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.
14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.
15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.
18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.
19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.
20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?
Listen to the sermon by clicking on the link above.