DOMESTIC ABUSE: Here’s wisdom on counseling victims. Guest writer Joshua Waulk, director of Baylight Counseling, says domestic abuse is anti-gospel and anti-Christ. His article appeared first here and is used with permission. PLUS: Get a safety plan!
Domestic abuse, in all forms, represents a gross departure from how Scripture portrays biblical marriage, including the example of self-sacrificial love modeled for the church by Jesus.
Recently, I read an article at the site of a counseling ministry that addressed a wife whose husband had the whole family “walking on egg shells.” He had explosive behavior. While physical abuse was not alledged, there was clear indication the family was suffering emotionally since the husband and father subjected them to his fits of anger.
Reading this wife’s story was disheartening, but not surprising. Socially, we know that domestic abuse is now and has been for many a debilitating, sometimes years long reality. Authors Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, in their book, “Is It My Fault? Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence,” wrote the following:
Abusers often find ways to hurt the whole person. They shred their victim’s sense of self-worth, crush their wills, and violate their bodies. The effects are widespread and catastrophic—including physical, social, emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage. If left untended, these effects will be ongoing, no matter how long ago the abuse happened. This is why it is important to deal with them honestly now.
I would like to think that these truths are not novel to anyone in counseling or pastoral ministry. Yet there’s a reason many keep pounding the drum.
We Don’t Question Victims of Domestic Abuse
“I don’t know whether you’re a great wife or your kids are angels…”
The line you just read was inluded in the counselor’s response to the wife mentioned above. She was exasperated at her husband’s erractic and sinful behavior, so she sought wise counsel from a third party. This is no small thing. We cannot afford to miss an opportunity to come to the side of an abused wife or child. Frankly, we may not get a second chance.
Often times, wives and children suffering at the hands of a manipulative tyrant are too overcome with fear to reach out for help. Perpetrators of domestic abuse often convince their victims that to seek help is to risk much more in retrobution and fallout than they might wish to endure. Examples include severe physical harm, loss of children, loss of finanical support, and so on..
Counselors, especially those who serve the church in any official capacity, must be aware of indications of domestic abuse. They must be resolved to never tolerate or give quarter to an abuser or their abusive behavior, regardless of the consequences that follow. Where marriage and family is concerned, biblical counselors must be resolute about this:
In the life of the family, domestic abuse, in all forms,
is anti-gospel and anti-Christ.
We Comfort Victims of Domestic Abuse
This makes questioning the personal, in-home performance of potential victims of domestic abuse a potentially grievous error. Such questioning often shows a lack of care, compassion, and concern for the safety of those involved. It threatens to re-victimize them by sending them into an emotional retreat, potentially convinced of their aggressor’s lies that help is out of reach.
In sum, it shows a lack of understanding and preparation to work with and provide care for victims of domestic abuse. These descriptions must never be true of those who serve as biblical counselors. Biblical counseling, as well as the church proper, ought to represent one place where perpetrators know, without question, they cannot hide their sin.
Domestic abuse represents a dynamic milieu of emotional and spiritual issues. However, addressing the victim and aggressor in the posture of marriage counseling is not the proper place to begin counseling.
In domestic abuse, the problem is not the victim’s alleged shortcomings or even their own sin.
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The problem to be addressed in counseling first is the condition of the aggressor’s heart that gave rise to abusive behavior in the main. This issue is second only to securing the victim’s safety, a paramount concern.
We Help Victims of Domestic Abuse
Biblical Counselor Brad Hambrick writes,
Until safety is no longer in doubt, other concerns should be only a way of understanding how to create a safe disposition or environment for the individual.
Biblical counselors and those in church ministry must be unwavering here: personal sin and shortcomings are never an ocassion for another, especially one’s own spouse or family member, to engage in acts of domestic abuse.
Whenever biblical or pastoral counselors suspect domestic abuse, let them trust that this is the first issue to be addressed in counseling. And, let the manner in which they counsel, speak hope to victims, repentance to perpetrators, conviction to the church, and the gospel to the culture. (Note: When someone is in danger, call police immediately.)
Resource for Victims
How to Develop a Safety Plan for Domestic Violence by Brad Hambrick
Join the Discussion
- What action steps can the church take to communicate to perpetrators that their sin will not be kept hidden?
- What action steps can the church take to proactively minister to the domestic abuse victim?
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
INSTANT GRATIFICATION: Our instant gratification mindset has snuck into the counseling office, says guest writer Shannon Kay McCoy, a biblical counselor listed on Heart2Heart Counselor Directory here. Often counselees want quick fixes. But Jesus wants something better! Shannon’s article appeared first here and is used with permisison. (Slightly edited for length.)
Instant gratification is not a new phenomenon. However, our expectation of “instant” is now faster than ever.
So how long will you wait for that cute cat video to load? I love cute cat videos, but if the video has not loaded after 10 seconds, I’m out! I move on to another site that has piqued my interest. And when I order something on the internet, if the shipping time is too long, I check to see if it is on Amazon Prime and order it there to get it in 2 days, even though I do not necessarily need it in 2 days.
And do you remember dial-up internet? I won’t even go there.
Instant Gratification Defined
Instant gratification is satisfying a desire immediately, without delay or deferment. It is the opposite of waiting. It is satisfying short-term pleasure instead of enduring the pain of long-term gain. Indeed, instant gratification often manifests as the ultimate in impatience. In fact, it is the difference between those who have the mindset of “strike while the iron is hot” versus “good things come to those who wait.”
Unfortunately, our culture feeds our innate desire for satisfaction now. With the wonderful inventions of computers, smartphones, and tablets, we can connect to anything we could possibly want. And this includes a selection of all types of entertainment on Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, a library of eBooks and audiobooks, and real-time local and world news at the touch of a button.
Instant Gratification and Quick Fixes
How does the need for instant gratification affect the counseling ministry? We may now have the dreaded feeling that instant gratification and counseling do not coexist. To be a Christian is to be set apart from a self-centered existence to a Christ-centered existence. We no longer live for ourselves.
Galatians 2:20 states the theme of the Christian life:
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
The believer’s life is characterized as living by faith in Jesus Christ and not living in the flesh, which craves instant gratification.
Also, Christians often get caught up in the instant gratification mindset in ministry. In the counseling room, the counselee wants a quick fix to a problem and the counselor wants the counselee to change instantly. An instant gratification approach to counseling is detrimental. And just as we demand instant feedback on social media and 2-day shipping, we demand that God fixes the negative circumstances and change people immediately.
If God does not come through fast enough, then we will find another way to resolve the problem—often leading to an even worse situation. The result of such impatience is stress, frustration, anger, fear, discouragement, and despair.
Downside of Instant Gratification
The instant gratification trap causes the counselor and the counselee to abandon the core spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, fasting, and fellowshipping with other believers. Prayer is abandoned because it takes too long to see results. Studying the Bible seems pointless when we can Google any question we may have. Fasting seems bad for your health. And fellowshipping is a waste of time when we have other things that need our attention immediately.
Truly, there is no quick fix to counseling a couple whose marriage was damaged by adultery. And one cannot instantly work through the grieving process of losing a loved one. You also cannot say “Stop it!” to someone who is addicted to painkillers. When we try to fix the problem quickly or push for change instantly, then the essence of the Christian life is missed.
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The apostle Paul states the purpose of the Christian life in Philippians 3:10-11:
That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
The goal of counseling is change based on a relationship with Jesus Christ. The pain and suffering of life are meant to develop a greater intimacy with Christ and to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ. The counselor and the counselee also must be reminded of this truth. And we come to know Him better when we wrestle through the trials of life in this fallen world.
In Part 2, I will walk us through the process of delayed gratification.
Questions for Reflection
How is your daily life affected by this instant gratification culture?
Also, is your spiritual life affected by an instant gratification mindset?
And in what way is your ministry/counseling affected by a desire for instant gratification?
In Mitchell’s “gallery of gossips,” meet five types of gossiping people. See if you can identify a gossip in your family, church, or workplace. See if you can identify yourself.
#1: The Spy
In Proverbs 11:13, the Hebrew word translated “gossip” means “‘a peddler (of secrets), a huckster/hawker, deceiver, or spy.’ This type of gossip is an informer. She convinces us to tell her our story then share it without permission.
A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy person keeps a secret. Prov. 11:13
#2: The Grumbler
Another Hebrew word commonly translated “gossip” refers to a whisperer. Whisperers murmur about another person to others; she shies away from open complaints about the person.
#3: The Backstabber
Backstabbing gossip overflows from a revengeful heart. The backstabber wants to hurt you.
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The backstabber typically spreads lie after lie. It is a smear campaign.
#4: The Chameleon
A chameleon goes along with gossip to to fit into the crowd.
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She is motivated by fear and is afraid of what others will think, say, or do if she doesn’t join in. The fear of man keeps her in this prison (Prov. 29:25).
#5: The Busybody
The busybody meddles in other people’s buisess. She gossips for personal entertainment and to live vicariously through the stories of others.
Please leave a comment or question at this blog post if you have a sec. I’d love to hear your thoughts and pray for you. You may also send me a message, if you prefer.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
NEW IDENTITY: Today’s guest writer is pastor-teacher Stephen J. Moll, my husband and a church planter in greater Chicago. You can read his original post here. Steve has preached extensively on the believer’s new identity in Christ, including these 7 truths you need to know. Free download below.
If you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, you’ve received an amazing new identity.You’re a new person! The moment you were saved you became a radically different person from the one you were before you were saved! In his writings, the Apostle Paul details the wonderful new identity all believers have in Christ.
Our new identity in Christ is designed by God to empower us, lead us, encourage us, and motivate us to live fruitful and victorious Christian lives. Therefore, it is vital that we know what the Word of God tells us about who we really are in Christ.
Here are the amazing truths about our new identity in Christ that we focus on and teach at Grace Life Church in greater Chicago:
1. Totally Forgiven!
In Christ you are totally forgiven of ALL your sins (Eph. 1:7, 4:32; Col. 1:13-14, 2:13, 3:13; Heb. 9:26-28, 10:13-14). As believers, all of our sins–past, present, and future sins–have been forgiven through Christ’s death at the cross. We don’t need to ask him to forgive us over and over again. Tragically, some Christians continually ask God to forgive them for the sins they commit when he’s already done that for them at the cross. Be assured that God completely dealt with the sin issue once and for all. All of believers’ sins have been totally forgiven and our fellowship with God is secure because we are in Christ. God now wants us to get on with letting Christ live His life in us and through us.
2. Perfectly Righteous!
In Christ you have the perfect righteousness of the Son of God (Rom. 3:21-24). All of our good works will not make us any more righteous than we became at the moment we were saved, when God gave us the perfect righteousness of his Son. We were declared totally righteous by God, the act of God the Bible calls “our justification” (Rom. 4:25).
Because we are in Christ, God sees us as just as perfectly righteous as his Son! We need to accept and embrace what God says is true about our perfect standing before Him and not base our standing on how we may feel from moment to moment and day to day.
3. Child of God!
In Christ you are a child of God (John 1:12-13). This is the wonderful reality of our intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Unfortunately, some Christians want to keep distant form God because of bad teaching or a refusal to believe this truth. The great news is that God wants us to grow close to him in a warm and loving personal relationship (Rom 8:15-16).
As God’s children we can approach him freely and confidently.
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Eph. 3:12)
God wants you to rest in and enjoy a close personal relationship with him. He wants you to know that you can turn to him and talk to Him anytime. He’s with you all the time as he’s loving you perfectly all the time. In addition, you are unconditionally accepted by God (Rom. 15:7). Many believers struggle with this truth. It’s difficult to believe, isn’t it? Despite your faults and failures, God still accepts you.
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You have every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3). You don’t have to pray for more spiritual blessings! The truth is that believers already possess every spiritual blessing in Christ, and we received them all at the moment we were saved.
You are complete in Christ (Col. 2:9-10). When God says that you’re complete in His Son, then you are complete! God has given us everything we need in order to enjoy a close and growing relationship with Him. At the moment of salvation, we received everything we need in order to live a victorious Christian life.
Jesus Christ has set you free (John 8:36). He has freed believers from sin and the law (Gal. 5:1). In our freedom we are now free to live as the Holy Spirit guides and leads us.
The Bible teaches that as a child of God you are not to live your Christian life by following the Mosaic Law, which God gave to the nation Israel, or any other works-based systems devised by men. Living that way does not produce victory over sin. It only produces confusion, frustration, bondage, and defeat as a believer eventually realizes, often painfully, that that way doesn’t work.
God’s Word is clear:
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Rom. 6:14)
Tragically, legalism has been a primary problem in Christ’s church ever since it started nearly 2000 years ago. Legalism mixes law and grace (or all law and no grace!), resulting in all kinds of errors and false teaching. It was the main problem the Apostle Paul vigorously confronted throughout his ministry. Today countless believers live under the heavy yoke of legalism. They’re missing out on the life of peace and joy that Jesus Christ has already given them. We thank God that he has given us the Bible, our sole source book of truth. It brings correction and teaches us His way for us to live as his children.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Gal. 5:1)
7. Eternally Secure!
You are eternally secure in Christ.
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Believers cannot lose salvation (Rom. 8:31-39). All of our sins were forgiven and we were declared righteous at the moment we were saved. Jesus dealt with the sin issue once and for all at the cross when He paid the penalty for our sins. Because He paid the penalty, we don’t have to.
Furthermore, we’ve been sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14). Once we’ve been born again of the Spirit we can’t become unborn! The Bible says that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39). We are eternally secure in his perfect love!
You see, Jesus Christ has done it all for us! That’s the beauty of grace. It makes it all about him, not about us. He now invites us to rest in him (Matt. 11:28-30) and the work he’s done for us. We honor him and obey him when we rest in him. As we trust in Christ living in us and rest in him, we give him the freedom to work in us and through us, producing good works that flow out of the “fruit of the spirit” (Gal. 5:22-23). These are real good works that have eternal value in God’s sight (1 Cor. 3:11-14).
DOWNLOAD: Would you like a free download on more new identity truths? Ask Lucy for the New Identity download today.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
WHY DIDN’T I LISTEN to my hurting friend’s heart when she had a terrible secret? How can I listen better next time? In this short article, you’ll learn at least two things:
1) How I failed my friend.
2) Steps we women can take in our churches to help others who are afraid to speak.
My college-bound high school friend Lynn aborted her baby at age 18. I said nothing to intervene, to comfort. I learned of her plans through a mutual friend. But Lynn was my good friend too. I could have spoken up, right?
Her mistake: Staying silent and telling only her boyfriend and our mutual friend. (And, of course, abortion is the killing of the unborn. At that time she supported the pro-choice agenda.)
Mine: Failing to speak up. Tangled inside, I didn’t want to force my beliefs on my friend. I believed abortion was morally wrong, though I wasn’t yet a Christ follower, but I chose to clamp my mouth shut.
I’ve wondered why she had the abortion and I said nothing. Were we. . .
d) All of the above
What’s another reason people choose silence?
Why Choose Silence?
Another reason you and I do not speak may be ignorance; more likely it’s selfishness. Lynn didn’t want a baby; it was an inconvenience. I didn’t want to rock a friendship so I comforted her through silence.
This silence? Was it real comfort?
It seemed to make things better. I didn’t know then what I know now: Women who have abortions are in desperate need of healing. If I had known the devastation to women, I would have said something, anything, to discourage her. She would have spoken; I would have listened.
I admit I messed up. And I can’t my sin of silence.
Can you think of a time you messed up too? Were you able to make it better?
Where Churches Can Help (or Hurt)
In many churches today, women very rarely share secrets of their abortions or depression or prostitution or drug use. One reason is fear of condemnation from her Christian sisters.
The good news: You can help make your church a safe place to share painful secrets. How?
1. Begin with prayer. Ask God to bring a hurting woman into your life.
2. Be patient. A hurting woman won’t tell you her pain at first. She needs to know she can trust you. She need to know you won’t condemn her. The Bible says,
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
3. Share compassionate comfort and hope. Let her know that nothing can separate her from God’s love. Show her this verse.
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. Romans 8:38-39
Finding Real Peace
When you’ve sinned, you’ll find peace when you go to God and agree with him that what you did was wrong. God wants you to move toward him, not seclude yourself or think you are “less than.” He listens!
And he affirms you in the best way possible. At Calvary, Jesus was your substitute for all of your screw-ups — past, present and future. Don’t believe Satan’s lie that your mistakes are unforgivable.
Your mistakes do not define you. Your identity as a child of God does.
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Contact me and I’ll share a wonderful, free resource with you. Simply say “Indentity in Christ” resource and I’ll send it to you. That simple.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,