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Freedom Through Christ

I am forty years old, I have five children, one grandchild, and have been married three times. Twice to the same man so maybe only twice married. The reason I am writing this is to give God the glory for redeeming my wretched life from the miry pit and to hopefully warn others of dangers lurking under the guise of "Christian". Not everything that has a Bible verse attached to it is Biblical.

I grew up in a nominally Catholic home. We went to CCD until eighth grade, when we were no longer required to go, and we went to Church mostly Easter and Christmas. In all honesty, I cannot remember the Gospel ever being presented. I am not saying it wasn't, I'm saying that I remember well the "works mentality". I was taught by my parents that when you did something good, you got a white mark on your soul and when you did something bad, you got a black mark and when you died, the white marks better outweigh the black marks... I got married the first time when I was nineteen and had a huge Catholic wedding and I can remember sitting in the back of my parent's car thinking, "it's too late to get out of this now, it's paid for! Oh well, as long as I can drink, I can tolerate it". Obviously, it didn't last long.

We did, however, have a beautiful daughter, who is now nineteen and a mother herself. The marriage ended but the drinking did not. Crack was now added to the mixture and bad went to worse. When I was still in high school, I was hospitalized at least twice for cutting myself up. I honestly cannot count the number of psychiatric hospitals and detox places I have been in, but there are at least nine. Looking back now from the other side, I wonder if these placements did not, in fact, add to the problem. Today I know that my battle is not with a razor or a bottle or a crack pipe but it is a battle raging in the heavenly realms and my enemy wants me dead. I take those words very seriously because I was very close to dead and had no clue that I have a redeemer.

Dead without my redeemer. How many people stand before God empty handed each day? Savior, grace, and mercy were foreign concepts to me. If I heard them at all, I don't remember. In 1993, I met my second husband. We had children right away, and in fact, were "in the family way" when we got married, which shouldn't have been a surprise since we were living together. I didn't think a thing about this fact, although it hurt his parents a great deal and hurt us later on in our marriage. I was oblivious. We attended Catholic church every so often.

My sister in law encouraged me to go to her church, saying "it would change my life". I finally went, just so she'd stop asking me! I don't remember anything earth-shattering but I did fill out the visitor's card, not realizing that I was the one who would be visited! Well, they came and explained the Gospel to me, something I had never heard. I am no rocket scientist but I knew that I was never going to get to heaven on my own merits, so I accepted Christ as my Savior that day. I continued to go to church with her and we eventually became members and I was baptized. I continued to drink sporadically so I attended a 12-step group where I was told that I had a disease and would be doomed to sit in these meetings the REST OF MY LIFE! At the time, it made good sense to me, after all, my family was a bunch of drunks too so that's just the way it was. I would question why we could call our higher power a tree but not Jesus Christ and was told that I was bringing too much "religion" to the program. Weird. Please see psychoheresyawarenessministries for a complete history of Alcoholics Anonymous and their founders. I am not sure that I see the wisdom in declaring over yourself an incurable disease day after day after day. I couldn't be held responsible for drinking! I have a disease! That is so outrageous to me that I could scream! I prefer to say that I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me including not sinning by drinking. And, in fact, that's exactly what has happened.

Things at home though, were not quite what they should have been. We started attending a smaller church and were incredibly blessed with some wonderful friends and leaders. It was not easy to hide there. People genuinely loved us and would not go away after Sunday morning. I owe a debt of gratitude to my sisters there that can never be repaid. Keep in mind that all this time I was "in counseling". I do not remember how many counselors I have had but it has been more than 5. I was always "in counseling" and "working on" something. Yikes, the terrible upbringing I had!! That is a joke!!! And it infuriates me to think this is being advocated in Christian counseling!!!

My father died suddenly of a blood clot. At the end of his life, he lived only to take his medication. His hope was in his medication. He was on disability for "depression" and NEVER left the house. His hope was in his medication. My mother died about five years later. She just died. She didn't care and drank and smoked herself to death leaving us without parents and our children without a grandmother. I have an older brother and a younger sister. I am not able to locate my brother now. He is plagued, I firmly believe, by demons. There was always something very sinister and dark about my family. An oppression that could almost be touched. These words I do not say lightly. The devil is real and is set on destruction. I have seen it. And still see it.

Anyway, things at home... my husband is a wonderful Godly man. I had taken in a lot of ungodly therapy over the years. The concept that my husband would be in charge of ME was insane! The obvious result of a household run like that was soon to become evident. I mentioned earlier that we caused a lot of turmoil in our own marriage by defying God's commands and it did cost us our marriage. I would not submit to him because I was sure he had some kind of "dysfunction" and was a "sick as me" since he would not attend a 12-step counterpart group. These phrases I did not make up myself. Add a head full of ungodly wisdom from years of counseling and destruction was a matter of when, not if. We brought our own problems by defying God. The unbalance in our home eventually became public and it was not pretty. I was not only defiant toward God and my husband, I was also an unrepentant sinner. I was vicious and vile as I could be. Not a lot of joy in our house!

My abusiveness became public in our church after a psychical altercation at our home involving the police. I went to jail for 8 days and then to one more psych ward, where I sat because I had nowhere else to go. A dear saint from our church WHO DIDN'T EVEN KNOW ME took me in. Today, I am proud to say that I am one of her caregivers as she is 90 years old and in failing health. When our home life became very public in the church things got pretty weird. My husband has ms., our youngest was one and our oldest twelve, I had a restraining order against me which prevented us from even being on the same street let alone in the same church building. And like I said, we have a very small church. The fishbowl is not a pleasant place to be I can tell you. One of our elders insisted that my husband support me financially and let me talk to the children on the phone. I refer to the next four years as the crying years. That elder gave me a job at his company and sound biblical wisdom. I love and admire him a great deal. I filed for divorce in hopes of getting my husband to do something, like talk to me, which backfired on me because we got divorced. It was suggested that the reason for my "rage" was that I had been the victim of childhood sexual abuse. ????????

So off to the expert I went. Here is where toes will be stepped on but my testimony is my testimony and indeed, God works all things together for His Glory and for the good of those who love him. I far from loved him at the time. After all, how could God allow our marriage to dissolve? How's that for a victim mentality? But we are told in Ezekiel to speak the truth whether they listen or fail to listen. We are also told to proclaim what the Lord has done for us. One tidbit I forgot to mention is that after four months of my husband refusing to speak to me, I felt like it would be ok to move in with another man. The expert on childhood sexual abuse that I was seeing told me that I was "acting our of a wound from my childhood" by pulling this stunt. Again, I am trying not to scream. How could I not move in with a man who is not my husband? After all, I was abused as a child! That is so incredulous to me now that I can't believe it even happed but it did. And I got "permission" to do it! I was, after all, abused! Even as all of this was happening, it didn't make sense. I didn't recall being sexually abused!

Then the ridiculous set in. Was it my grandpa, my brother, my uncle? Why couldn't I remember? What if I had said to my dad before he died, "you sexually abused me and I just don't remember it". These thing happen every day! Things certainly were getting worse before they got better, as the expert told me they would. Was my husband abusing me by wanting relations? Would my precious son become an abuser? It got pretty crazy. The book used for this "healing" was The Wounded Heart. Then came the actual "inner healing", which I believe opened the door wide to the enemy. Is it necessary to "lance" open wounds that the Holy Spirit has already healed? If that's in the Bible, I sure can't find it anywhere.

The secret things belong to God. He tells us that. I have heard of people revisiting their birth experience!!! Which gestalt therapy is convenient this week? Primal scream therapy sounds kind of fun. We are warned twice in the Word to not add to it or take away from it. How can we possibly integrate psychotherapy, a man made system devised by people who claimed psychotherapy is a religion, into our precious and perfect revelation by God? All of the founders of psychotherapy were atheists and Freud not only hated God but hated men. What do they have in common with light? Have we studied where integration comes from? As seminaries become funded by the government, they are required to teach integration. In the 1800's, liberalism brought radical changes in universities, Most Christians refused to send their young people to these universities, which were originally founded on Christian principles, because their faith was continually assaulted prompting many denominations to create their own "Christian" colleges. These fundamentalist colleges were to provide a safe, Christian, academic alternative to larger secular universities that rejected and ridiculed their faith. But they suffered from an early lack of academic respectability and having a desire to be recognized by accreditation associations these "Christian" colleges accommodated their core curricula to what was accepted as minimal in the social sciences while still maintaining a high regard for the Bible and began to offer courses in psychology in the 20' and 30's (Psychology & Christianity eds Eric L. Johnson and Stanton L. Jones p. 31)

Is it necessary to revisit things that have hurt us? That doesn't seem to line up with the Biblical mandate to forget what lies behind and press onward toward the goal, which by the way is to die to ourselves, not indulge ourselves in self-pity. By His wounds we ARE healed. And we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. I can only pray that my children will be graceful enough to forgive me for the mistakes I make in their lives every day. When I think of my parents today, it is only with grief and mercy that I was not more aggressive with speaking the gospel to them. My mother rejected it and died a short time later. That makes me look at her in a whole new light. The way God wants me to. A person with an eternal soul who needs a savior.

Back to the "inner healing", which is now referred to as Theophostic Prayer Ministy. Certain underlying principles of TPM have been compared to those of Recovered Memory Therapy, a now discredited approach that had the inherent risk of introducing therapeutic distortion by the production of false memories. AS IN I WAS SEXUALLY ABUSED AS A CHILD AND JUST DON'T REMEMBER IT! Ed Smith, the founder of TPM had at one time claimed he had divine revelation from God. A claim he late recanted. In addition to questions about the efficacy, safety and reliability of TPM, it has also divided Christian observers with regard to the soundness of its theology. In the conclusion of their paper A theological analysis of Theophostic Ministry, Bryan Maier and Philip Monroe put it this way: "...on the issues of sin and healing, the question remains for Christian counselors and the evangelical community as a whole as to whether Smith's "theological basis" is consistent with responsible biblical doctrine. We do not think that Smith has warrant to make this claim. Furthermore we think these differences are so significant that we advise great caution before engaging in this ministry - whether as a client or as facilitator.

The idea behind this is to go back into our "wounds" and ask Jesus to come in and we imagine what He might be saying at that time. Are you kidding me???? I can imagine Jesus saying anything I put in His mouth! Like, sure it's okay for you to steal from work, you need those q-tips. This is so ridiculous to me it defies logic. If I am reading my Bible correctly, Jesus tells us to forgive those who hurt us and pray for those who persecute us. And in this world we will have trouble! Why are we so surprised when it actually comes? Trials are to make our faith pure. He tells us this is not our home, it is the devil's home and in this world we will have trouble. More trouble comes when we believe the psychological lie that we are owed something, I.e. emotional health. Whatever that is. We are owed death and nothing more.

What happened to the Israelites when they demanded meat to go with their daily provision? They got it and a wasting disease to go with it. They got enough meat to choke on. The fact that God has already done more than we deserve should be more than enough. To demand more is sinful. In my situation, I came away from the "inner healing" experience with a false theology of God and His Word and indeed, as the therapist claimed it would, things got a lot worse. A darkness settled in that I had never known. I began to fear I was losing my mind, and I may have been. Like I said earlier, I cried for four solid years. I was unable to care for my children and I knew I made a dreadful mistake by destroying my marriage. Some people will not believe this, if I wasn't there I wouldn't believe it either. But once when I looked at that man I was playing house with who was not my husband, what I saw was not him and it scared me so much that all I could do was close my eyes. I am embarrassed to say that and I know it sounds crazy but believe me when I say that when we disobey, we are in a world of trouble. I would look at the sky and scream," why do you even keep me alive? Is this some kind of cosmic joke'? And I meant it with all my heart. God was cruel and punishing for "letting" my marriage dissolve. As if I had nothing to do with it. The victim mentality was well integrated by then. It became a struggle to do anything. Get up, work, anything. It got so bad that I would have to look at the road to make sure I was driving on the right side. The devil got in and I opened the door wide for him.

All I could think of was myself. So many diagnoses, so many meds. And with each new one, renewed hope that relief would come. So many therapies, under the name Christian. Behavioral therapy will never create a heart change. It is doomed to fail. Only the Holy Spirit will change a heart. A wounded heart. My dearest friend Liz stayed by my side. She never gave up hope. She would constantly encourage me with the Word and guide me back to my long lost hope in Christ. God had a good plan for my life, she would say and I would roll my eyes. Toward the end of summer 2006, I was living at my mom's house, under the oppression and barely hanging on. I just cried and cried and tried to find relief but there was none. Behavioral therapy will never cause a heart change. It can't. It is man-made. We began to look for a long term psychiatric placement. All doors closed except for Teen Challenge, a long term discipleship mission of the Assemblies of God. I really didn't care where I went I just knew the end was coming soon and something had to change. It saddens me to see Teen Challenge marketed as a treatment center. It is an intense discipleship program. I had not had a drink in three years when I entered TC. All Bible, all the time. Arrangement were made and I entered TC Columbus Ohio in September of 2006. My church sisters all took turns bringing the children to visit and sent lots of encouragement my way.

While in TC, I learned the God of the Bible and who I was in relation to Him. While I was sorry for the mess I had made of my life, I was in no way repentant for the sinner I was. I was, after all, a victim. Of some sort. A victim of therapy. I knew I made a horrible mistake by throwing my marriage away but repentant for my heart? Not so much. Sorry for my circumstances, definitely, but there is a big difference. My husband would not even look at me let alone speak to me. When I would talk to the children on the phone he would just hang up and not say good-bye. It never occurred to me that I had hurt him in the deepest possible and most publicly humiliating way. I just knew I said I was sorry and he should take me back now.

At Teen Challenge, I was spoon fed the Word. I learned a proper view of a Holy God who deserves worship. He is not a slot machine.. He will have mercy on whom He has mercy. My dear friend decided to fast for me. She will tell you this is all of God, her heart for me. She called me in July before I entered TC and told me through tears, "this verse is for you"! It was Isaiah 40:1-2 "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard service had been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins". And that is exactly what has happened. Shortly after this the door opened for TC. While there, I clung to Joel 2:25-27 I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locusts swarm-my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full and you will praise the name of the Lord your God who had worked wonders for you, never again will my people be ashamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel that I am the Lord your God and that there is no other, never again will my people be ashamed". And that is exactly what has happened!!

I recently read all of Joel 2 and was heartened to discover that the events that have transpired in my life have a very definite pattern. In Joel, we are told to return to the Lord with all of our heart with fasting and weeping and mourning. Joel 2:12. Then we are instructed to ask to be spared from being an object of ridicule and scorn. Vs. 17. Vs. 18 goes on to say that the Lord will take PITY on us. A Holy God has pity on us because, indeed, we are pitiful and in great need. I am heartbroken by the theology that teaches there is more….there is something we should demand from God. It indeed, makes me weep. As I take in all of Joel 2, I can see God's movement relating exactly to Liz's returning to Him with fasting and weeping on my behalf and God having pity on me. Why did He spare me and take pity on me? I can only worship Him for that and continue to proclaim what He has done. He gets the glory. I did NOTHING. There is nothing I could have done. When He moved, it was obvious it was Him..

I also learned that there is a big difference between being sorry for the mess I had created in my life and true repentance. When I became more sorry for what I was than for the mess I had made out of my life, God started to move. Why? Because I am pitiful. Do you see Him causing all things to work together for His glory? While in Columbus, I happened across a book entitled Only God can heal a wounded heart by Ed Bulkley PHD. That's were I was first introduced to the subtleness of lies inserted into "Christian" counseling. I began to search the Bible itself for answers to the most perplexing questions like why do I act like a jerk? Paul addresses this question in great detail in his writings. I also learned that the Bible claims to be our ONLY authority on matters of life and Godliness. In 2 Timothy 3:12-17 Paul speaks to this: "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. As for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correction and training in righteousness so that he man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work", The Bible makes abundantly clear who I am in relation to a Holy God. I mourn and weep because we claim the Bible is our authority and then immediately turn from it and look for what we are not promised.

Over time, and MUCH prayer, God began to work on my husband's heart and eventually we remarried and are now striving to live lives that bring glory to God. And the joy! Sometimes I laugh so hard I feel like I have run a marathon! The joy I cannot describe in words. I am pursuing my certification as a NANC counselor and am very excited and grateful that God has done what He said He would do. Restore what was stolen. Indeed, His Word is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. .Hebrews 4:12-13. Be wise as serpents, test the spirits, don't be deceived by false doctrine. We are waned of such dangers. Don't assume that everything that has a Bible verse attached to it is Biblical. The Gospel is offensive, it goes against all that is within us. (evil) It should not make us feel good, it should teach us to lose our lives to find them. Die to self, put others ahead of us, turn the other cheek, and other hard teachings. Change is the work of the Holy Spirit alone. We cannot conjure up fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is doomed to fail. And that is exactly what behaviorism integrated with the Bible promises. Be wise brothers and sisters, too much is at stake.

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