Archives For Spiritual

destructivemarriage-650x220bPastors, counselors, and ministry leaders at all levels are often the first responders couples turn to when struggling in their marriages. Unfortunately, ministers are often overwhelmed and not well trained to discern when the issues they are drawn into are normal marital conflict or emotional abuse.

Leslie Vernick and Chris Moles joined us on April 2, 2014, for a heart-to-heart discussion about how the church and people of faith can begin to address the growing problem of emotionally destructive marriages. Leslie brought her 30 years of experience as a counselor and relationship coach to help people helpers better understand that they can help couples ensnared in emotionally destructive marriages.

Chris, himself a senior pastor, also serves as a Batterer Intervention Specialist who has ministered to over 200 men who have been convicted of some form of domestic violence. Chris shared his passion, experience, and wisdom shepherding his local flock as well as a group of abusers that most of society has written off.

Together Leslie and Chris offered a uniquely Christian perspective on how to see, understand, and confront the emotionally destructive patterns in those who are abused and those who abuse.

In keeping with our ministry commitment to make the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all, we are making the content of this webinar available without cost or obligation to you and anyone you’d like to share it with.

To listen to the audio recording from the webinar, click the link: Shepherding the Emotionally Destructive Marriage.

To download the PowerPoint from the webinar, click the link: Shepherding the Emotionally Destructive Marriage PPT.

To get a free sample download from Leslie Vernick’s book, click the book title link: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope. If you are interested in requesting a review copy of Leslie’s book, WaterBrook/Multnomah Press has graciously agreed to a free limited time offer of a review copy by clicking the following link: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.

As a special gift to you as a pastor, counselor, or ministry leader, Leslie would also like to offer a special gift, thanking you for attending this webinar. Leslie is making available an ebooklet of previously unpublished material focused on the church’s response to emotionally destructive marriages. Click on this link, The Church’s Response To Emotionally Destructive Marriages, to receive that free material. Leslie is also offering 2 free training DVD’s to help you in your work with couples in emotionally destructive marriages. You can receive these additional resources by clicking on: Training DVD’s.

For a free download of an RBC booklet by counselors Jeff Olson & Tim Jackson (one of our hosts) click the title link: When Violence Comes Home. Another booklet on verbal abuse by Jeff Olson is also available at: When Words Hurt. Herb Vander Lugt, one of RBC Ministries’ past research editors, wrote a booklet about God’s heart for women living in abusive relationships. Click here for his booklet: God’s Protection for Women.

For further resources from RBC Ministries to help you understand more about abuse and what can be done to stop it, click the link: Abuse.

Piling Up Stones

Dennis Moles —  January 22, 2013 — Leave a comment

This past weekend was a special time for me as a dad, a friend, and the follower of Jesus. It was a time of remembering the past, connecting with the present, and casting a vision for the future.

Every January the current and former members of a college organization called Theta Rho Epsilon meet for a weekend retreat. This year the meeting was in Chicago and my sons and I attended. Theta Rho Epsilon, which we affectionately call OPE (pronounced Opie—like Ron Howard’s character on the Andy Griffith show) is a men’s organization that began at Cedarville University back in the early nineties. The purpose and creed of OPE is summed up by Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” And for the last 20 years I have lived in community, often from a considerable geographical distance, with these guys—each of us trying to help the others look, act, and love like Jesus Christ.

When OPE began, I don’t think any of us had a clear idea how important the relationships we were making would be to us and our families. From the very best of times to the very worst of times, these guys have been there for me and I have been there for them.

As we gathered this weekend with friends old and new, I was reminded of the profound truth that none of us were meant to take this journey of discipleship alone. I was reminded that I need my brothers and they need me. I was reminded of the story we share and was encouraged by the story we are writing. But this year something else profound took place. This year all the alumni set aside some time to have a special ceremony for our sons.

It wasn’t elaborate. We simply told them stories, presented them with gifts, and shared our hearts. Essentially, we reminded them of the story of Joshua leading the children of Israel across the Jordan: 

When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.” . . . “These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” . . . “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground’ ” (Joshua 4:1-7, 21-22).

This past Saturday we piled up stones of our own. We reminded our sons, who range in age from 6 to 14, of the story of OPE. How before any of them was born we set out to help each other follow Jesus. How we have continued through the years to sharpen one another for the purpose of looking, acting, and loving like Christ. After we shared our story, we confessed to them that our greatest desire is for them to follow Jesus too and to know that they have a community of men who love them and are there for them no matter what.

Each boy left Chicago this weekend having received a necklace, hearing a declaration, and receiving a promise. The necklace simply reads “Proverbs 27:17.” It was presented to them by a man other than their dad with the simple declaration, “We choose you; we love you.” And it was solidified as 12 men stood to their feet and made these promises to 8 boys:

“We promise, as time and opportunity allows, to be a sharpening influence in your lives.”

“We commit, as the Holy Spirit brings you to our minds, to pray for you.”

“We are willing, should you ever need us, to be a safe place for you to share your questions and struggles as you grow and progress through life.”

“Regardless of the choices and decisions you make, we choose you.”

This weekend reminded me that I need to take more time to pile up stones. I need to remember the faithfulness of God in the past and declare that faithfulness in the present. It reminded me that I need my brothers, and it reminded me to pray for my own kids that they would find the same kind of relationships that God has blessed me with.

How long has it been since you piled up some stones?

Spiritual leaders have an incredible power to influence others under their care for good. But there are some who exploit their positions of power to control others for their own purposes. This is one of the most heinous forms of betrayal because it is done in the name of God.

All too often, people who have been abused often feel like their voices go unheard in the church. But that should not be true of the family of God. A healthy church can teach its members what it means to be equipped as a listening community by encouraging conversations that matter about the difficult struggles of abuse and the hope for meaningful healing from the damage of abuse.

Join us as Gene Getz explains the need to understand and identify physical, verbal, or sexual abuse. He also shares the importance of creating an environment where people can be set free.

Many who struggle with the wounds from past abusive relationships are often plagued by current anxiety as to whether or not they will ever be normal again. Much of that answer depends on what one defines as “normal.” Helping an abuse victim see that if normal means no longer experiencing the pain of a broken world, then that “normal” isn’t possible. But if it means becoming a more whole person in spite of the brokenness in this life, then there is hope for a “new normal.”

God’s grace can change anyone. However, the church has a responsibility to help those who are the abusers, as well as the victims. Join us as Gene Getz explains some steps the church can take in dealing with people responsible for hurting others.

Unfortunately, spiritual abuse happens more often than we might think in Christian organizations. Addressing the issue is both difficult and delicate. While many choose to avoid it by leaving the church, others lash out against leadership in destructive ways. There is a better way to address spiritual abuse when it occurs that we can learn.

Abuse of power is common among leaders. Nowhere is that abuse of power more destructive than when it’s a trusted spiritual leader who is wielding power to abuse and control others. That’s why it’s imperative that pastors and spiritual leaders have safe guards in place to prevent them from abusing the power that God has entrusted to them.