All posts by LifeTree

My passion is to see every person experience the abundant life available to us right now, to know their truest identity and the Oneness we can experience with the passionate creator of our beings. Married to John, we are blessed with 5 adventuresome sons and a boxer named Zelda. I am presently working on obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

PEOPLE WHO HOLD SPACE WILL HEAL THE CHURCH

I love this- may we all be so…

When I married my husband, he’d just cut off his dreads and was an avid rock climber. He married me– a girl from a small town, comfortable in everything that I knew, in everything that I’d been and was going to be.
As Johnny Cash says, we got married in a fever, and before we knew exactly what we’d done, we were home from our honeymoon, beginning the long journey toward figuring out who we were–together.
When he married me, he loved who I was, but also saw who I could one day become, and he held that vision steady. And it wasn’t a vision for what he thought I was supposed to be, but a vision still unknown to him, held by the mystery of God…continued below

Source: PEOPLE WHO HOLD SPACE WILL HEAL THE CHURCH

waking up

My heart lurched from still to tears and prayer in .5 seconds… here is Hope for our slumberers,our sons and daughters waking up, by Laurie from the Jane Doe Chronicles

thejanedoechroniclesdotcom

it was a saturday morning. her son slept in while she rose early to have coffee and time with father god. it was her usual routine nearly every day, coffee and worship before anything else.

she went into the kitchen to make breakfast for the two of them. buster the cat took his place on a stool opposite her across the counter. he liked to observe what his ‘mummy’ did in the kitchen. she was the only mum he’d ever known, the first living creature he saw when he opened his eyes as a kitten.

with breakfast going on the stove, she called to her growing teenager to come downstairs. it wasn’t long after her call she heard his footsteps on the stair treads. his face was ashen when he got to the main floor. he was upset, nearly in tears.

“honey, whatever is the matter?” “mom, i had two dreams…

View original post 599 more words

God Speaks: Perspectives on Hearing God’s Voice – Now Available by Praying Medic

My generous friends, Praying Medic and his wife Denise, have collaborated on abook project with 27 writers. I’m blessed and fortunate to have been included in the project! Here’s Praying Medic….

“For the last 2 years, I’ve been collaborating with 27 of by closest friends on a project. The idea was to put together a book showcasing the many different ways in which God speaks. I’m happy to announce that the book God Speaks is now available. Here’s an excerpt from the book that was written by Matt Hallock.”

“God’s voice is near. It is accessible. It is ready. It is intimate.

The first time I remember hearing God speak to me was during the summer before my senior year of high school. It had been about six years since I had last seen my dad, and I was depressed, feeling alone in my struggle to become a man. Without my dad, I was afraid of life, afraid of failing, afraid of being found out as a phony Christian. I was under so much accusation from the enemy, and I believed most of it.

But I had made a habit of spending time seeking God. Granted, I did so out of desperation, trying to earn my sonship. I hoped that if I asked enough, He would take the time to invest in me the way my dad had not. But God, not caring as much about me getting it right as He did about being close with me, met me there…”

Read more here and find the link to the book! prayingmedic.com

IMG_5594

The Word Opens Up Encounters

By faith we inherit…Therefore inheriting the promises is the outcome of faith and depends entirely on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace, to make it stable and valid and guarenteed to all his descendants… Romans 4 (Amplified).

Grace, Faith and Promise

By grace through a promise we receive. Takes a load of performance pressure off doesn’t it? Whatever point of our journey, God is anticipating using our experiences as opportunities to reveal Himself to us that we might know Him- not just doctrinally, but experientially. One of my favorite things is noticing a verse or paragraph and then experientially understanding it, or having some encounter with God and then finding a verse that affirms it. This is a story about that. Encountering God experientially after meditating on a passage of scripture for a time- Romans 4.

Singing a Love Song

I love to sing. More to the point I love to worship through song. Since I was a child, who discovered she could carry a tune and do a half decent rendition of Dolly Parton’s Jolleen, I have sung my way through life’s joys and sorrows. I grew up on Country and later imagined myself singing Jazz and Blues in the nightclubs (it was the only place I knew where crooners would be welcome).

To hone my craft, I joined school and church choirs, moved on to duets and finally “solos” then on to weddings, christian ladies brunches, and funerals. For a very short stint, I was the singer for a band called Sweet and Nasty– I was the sweet, and other members were the nasty. We had one gig at Klondike Days (K-Days) in the Christian Motorcycle Group’s tent and then I faded into obscurity. I was later invited to join another band that had some small time tour plans but by that time I had a beautiful 5 month old son, and my priorities had shifted. My band days were behind me.

At some point I decided my voice had been given by God and belonged to purposes that put the spotlight on Him alone, so I never did croon the jazz and blues as I had dreamed. But He was attentive to my heart desires and opened up a place for me to lead worship in the church, something that I had prayed secretly for but had not voiced. I was delighted! This is the background upon which my personal encounter with Him became staged…

Trial and Pain

Somewhere between singing and diapers I began to experience pain on the right side of my jaw. I ignored it as long as possible until I began getting headaches as well and sharp biting pains that would move from my jaw up the side to the top of my head, and my jaw began to click when it opened and closed. A little trauma at the dentist as a child made me anxious-avoidant but the pain became too frequent to ignore, so I made an appointment. The x-rays showed my wisdom teeth on both sides were turned and impacted. One tooth kept trying to move up into place but because of its orientation it was pushing against the molar in front of it instead. This was what caused the jaw and headache issues.

At the time I didn’t know much about the authority and power given to believers for intervention or how miracles came about, so I made my next appointment with the specialist, and began scrimping to save the cost of the surgery, around $1500 dollars. The day arrived and the doctor came out to speak to me as a preview to surgery. He asked a number of medical questions and what I did for hobbies. I shared with them that I was a singer, I sang in the church and a few other places.

He left and returned after a short examination of the x-rays with some unhappy news. One of the teeth was oriented in such a way that it appeared to go through the nasal cavity. This would mean that when they removed it, it would change my airways and my sound when I sang. Basically it might ruin my singing. Further, because it was an awkward surgery, it would be about $300 more than they had quoted me. I’ve heard this is the same reason Barbara Streisand chose to leave her nose as it was, the nose or the song. If it’s true, I’d say she chose well. Wind Beneath My Wings is a great song.

Laying it Down, Choosing Faith, Believing

This became a hard decision to make in a matter of minutes. I didn’t have more money- not in paper or plastic. And I loved to sing- I couldn’t imagine not singing. But this pain was becoming somewhat debilitating and I couldn’t see myself trying to live with it any longer. As I sat in the waiting room I turned to the Lord and offered Him back His gift I had used for His glory, as best I knew how. I said simply, “You gave me this ability to sing, and I really don’t want to lose it–but this pain is too much. I’m going to have the surgery and I’ll leave it to you whether I can still sing or not when I wake up.” I had an expectancy, and I was willing to entrust it all to Him.

An Encounter with my Beloved

I remember waking up from my own cry feeling drugged and nauseous, the nurse assuring me of where I was, that I was okay, but I must “breathe deeper”. Others had come after me and left before me, and I was having a difficult time waking up from the anesthetic. Yet before the fog lifted from me and consciousness returned, I experienced something that feels just as profound to me now as it did in that moment. It’s a little hard to describe, but I’ll attempt it and hope you can imagine how it would feel to you.

The thick cloaking presence of God was moving over and around me- I imagine like in Genesis, where it says the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the deep. Simultaneously I heard the most masculine, deep, strong with authority, voice speaking to me saying, “Abraham believed God”. Then I woke with a start by my own cry of pain. Please, close your eyes for a moment and imagine the sense of God’s spirit hovering and moving over you and hearing a deep voice speak the Word you have been studying back to you. It is a sense of sacred, of holy, and of power. I was in wonder and awe. I still am.

The Word Is Reality

I no longer would merely muse about Romans 4, and what that might look like in my life. I had a living encounter with my Lord, who using a short phrase and a foreknowing of circumstance chose to personally reveal Himself and His word to me in a deeper way. When I was conscious enough, the dentist informed me that although it had been scrupulously close to the nasal cavity, the tooth was not through it; I could continue to sing to, and about, the one I love. As an odd sort of bonus, a cyst was found on one of the teeth which would allow them to file a type of claim and reduce the cost of the surgery back to the original amount. I was given more than I thought to ask for.

Mediating on the Word sets us up for personal encounters with Him. Believing Him is our most basic need, and our glory. Years later I’m still singing, sharing how faithful He is to watch over His word to perform it, and that He is no respecter of persons. He will meet with each of us and perform His word.

Father, You are amazingly Good. We anticipate meeting you in both typical and unusual places and circumstances. The everyday life is a doorway to encountering your loving kindness. Thank you that your written words are gateways to meeting You, the living Word. Help us to honor your Word, make it alive to each of us, that we may intimately know you, and love you more.

 

Attraction, Authority, and Leadership  

Attraction, Authority, and Leadership

Part 4 of Secret Longings, Confusing Feelings & Paths to Healing

It was a confession that sparked this sexuality miniseries. This was the catalyst, a misunderstanding of attraction was crushing a life, and one conversation unlocked the door to freedom…     James 5: 16; Hebrews 12:15-16     (Note: embedded green links lead to more info)

Scenario
A person finds they’re attracted to a leader; a leader finds they’re attracted to one they oversee. It’s not deliberate, and one or neither, is unattached.

When such an “accidental” attraction occurs, the experience is likely to draw the involved parties into any number of reactions. Here are  four common ones:

1) a superlative leap of assumption that the issue is immediately identifiable as _____. (often lust, including for females)

2) an attempt to endure a secret torment, trying to understand how to shut down the sense of attraction, while simultaneously trying to maintain the relationship in a proper manner.

3) sabotage of the relationship due to the conflict, abdicate position or function, isolating in the process.

4) engage in an emotional and/or physical affair.

Listening to the self-despising cries of confessors who have dared to risk feeling vulnerable enough to disclose their heart sickening secret, I’ve realized we don’t often think to stop and ask ourselves the right questions. Rather people engage in all kinds of judgments–self and otherwise–and may misinterpret the situation. Feeling stuck, and perhaps ashamed, many self-incriminate and further entrench themselves through secrecy.

Whatever is hidden cannot heal. What ever is exposed can be healed. (Hosea 7:7)

The Origin of the Attraction
So what about lust? Maybe, but even if lust is a part of the issue it isn’t the whole of it. Lust alone is not usually the reason people find themselves in an ‘accidental attraction,’ even though it’s often the first causation they may identify.

People tend to compartmentalize many things. It seems that if we can identify anything at all with a label, we will name it, blame it and conclude it the end of a matter; (self) judgement served.

However, the problem we may first identify is seldom the real issue that needs discovery.

For example some people will identify with having an “anger problem”. “I get so mad I can’t control it.” In this case, the real problem may be an issue of self-control, or fear. Related, when an inappropriate attraction activates one’s conscience, a sense of lust may only be a signifier of something more covert. When one’s conscience is triggered, it functions as an alert of being in a position of choice (a way out). We are created with a governance code written into the essence of our beings, and when we are in a position of choice which might violate our conscience, or has, we receive notice. Some experience this as a sense of guilt, fear, or conviction (much may influence how individuals experience this notification; more on that in the next post).

We are tri-part beings. Along with our spirit, our minds and our physiology work in unison  (psychosexually & psychosocially). Does a thought cause a physical response? Does a physiological response cause a thought? What is really happening?  As we go through developmental phases all our parts intertwine and work together; for better or worse. At each stage our mind develops memories in conjunction with emotions and physiological responses. As psychologists and neurologists are fond of saying,

What fires together wires together.

When these connections happen in an appropriate way, time and place, healthy bonds and unions are created in a experiential, purposed design. Sometimes though, connections occur in confusing ways and can cause us to respond in a manner that we don’t understand.

These unsolicited experiences can trigger either avoidance or engagement. The contexts of such experiences matter. The conclusions we draw are crucial to our outcomes.

Often an attraction develops within a power imbalance relationship. For example, people who have been sexually abused or taken advantage of, even through suggestion, are likely to encounter confusing experiences again later in life, especially with someone they see as an authority figure or a leader. Why? 

Something got cross-wired back a ways and now the connections are firing at an inappropriate time and place.  Research shows a physiological response does not have to be premeditated or conscious to occur. Without recognizing that a misfire is occurring, and that it can be rewired, people often panic, wrestle inwardly, or perhaps fall into an emotional or physical adulterous affair.

Other people may get inappropriately involved trying to fulfill a genuine need in a ‘confused’ manner. Take for instance the young woman experiencing confusion about her identity and developing sexuality; a married leader invests in her spiritual growth which she interprets as attraction. Maybe she has “daddy” wounds (or has been abused) and the person in leadership that she looks to for guidance unexpectedly erupts all types of confusing feelings and thoughts.

If she doesn’t express them she’ll likely not resolve them, repeating a cycle of vulnerability, and if she does express them, she may be judged, rejected, or used. What’s a girl to do? She needs the leader to be strong and wise, to separate the precious from the common, but noticing her reactions, he may have changed focus himself.

What’s a leader to do? Everyone has their kryptonite don’t they? Perhaps he’s become dissatisfied in his marriage, maybe there’s not much intimacy left and he has needs; Western culture tends to be needs driven. Or perhaps it’s more of an identity issue for him–fulfilling an emotional aspect, and receiving the attention makes him feel appreciated again or masculine. Thoughts come, physiology responds, the struggle begins.

Who can he confide in? Maybe the first person he should confide in is the last person he feels he can– his wife.

Perhaps his wife has her own identity issues, trying to understand her own inhibitions; maybe she even did everything right, saving herself for the wedding night. She should be free to love, but the restrictive hard wiring that shaped her growing up paradoxically short circuits her “drive” and how she feels about herself, and truthfully, she is just as disappointed as he. But, maybe her leader/boss seems more understanding than her husband and she finds herself emotionally involved. The nuances are subtle and deceptive; people become collateral damage.

These types of scenarios may sometimes involve what some call Transference or Counter-transference, old concepts in counseling relationships.

Basically, transference occurs when something of one’s past is re-experienced in a non-conscious way, and the associated feelings and attributions are projected into a present relationship with an authority figure or someone who reminds them of the person from their past. For some people, a caring encounter with a leader or authority figure may be one of the few times in their life they have experienced a genuine and proper relationship, which may feel confusing. In reverse, a person in a role of authority or power projects their experiences onto someone who is in a dependent role (counter-transference).

Unaddressed, this distorted relationship interference may become a clash of emotional reactions without much reason involved; thus being aware of such possibilities and discerning such vulnerabilities may make the difference.

A further type of relational confusion may be related to a good kind of desire. One time when my dad was doing a controlled burn on the farm, I realized I couldn’t see any fire as the burning was occurring along the roots underground; but there was a lot of smoke. As I gazed into the smoke trying to picture the fire burning beneath, Holy Spirit began to express the confusion people experience in attraction to leadership (or reverse) is often due to confusing Godly desire with male-female (or other) attraction. As odd as it may sound, people genuinely perceive the fire and smoke of the Spirit of God dwelling within another (the temple: body, soul, spirit), yet mistake it for attraction to the person, because their discernment is off. The presence of God is truly attractive, Jesus is the desire of nations. With proper understanding, a person will draw closer to God, recognizing it’s Him they are attracted to–sometimes a person simply needs some gentle redirection.

As a last, but not exhaustive, common scenario: “something wicked this way comes”. Many years ago I sat across from a pastor who brought up another church member in conversation. He confided, rather unexpectedly, his wish that she would allow him more access to her inner world: he “only wanted to be a Father to her, he saw her as a daughter.” I had no reason to disbelieve him except, I knew by the Holy Spirit in that instant that this was not the true desire this man had for this woman. However, I didn’t yet know how to use such prophetic knowledge and approach him about it–nor was I sure he even realized the true nature of his confession.

So instead of empathetically confronting him in that moment, I went home and prayed with compassionate understanding. Although I couldn’t bring myself to confront the pastor (truthfully, I wasn’t sure it was my place to confront and I was also afraid of his reaction), I eventually did share with the woman (who had no knowledge of his inclinations at the time nor interest in him in that manner) and she confirmed that he had confessed it to her at some point with a witness present; and the relationship was corrected.

Unfortunately, not before there was a rippling fallout within the church, because in this situation there was more at work than one man’s confusion in trying to meet his needs or experiencing counter-transference. It became evident as more and more marriages began to experience tensions and rifts as pastoral advisement began to include suggestions of separation, and other poor counsel.

Men began to suspect something amiss, have their authority challenged or usurped and feel emasculated. Too many stories were coming out to be coincidence. It got rather ugly. Some call it Jezebel (Rev 2:20) or by other names, but when it shows up, you know it. This “thing” took advantage of weak areas of the pastor and the people. And I deeply regretted my choice to stay silent.

In this case, by not speaking to the pastor, I had allowed the influences of this spirit to cause lot of damage I only became fully aware of later. This could have been avoided if I had accepted responsibility and direction from the Holy Spirit who was prompting me to take courage and act in a preventive manner; to function as a type of gatekeeper. Every person has a functional purpose in the body of Christ. It’s His permission we have to function for the good of all members.

Love Confronts–gently, humbly and with mercy. We may not appreciate such confrontations in the moment, but it’s  proof of being loved (Hebrews 12). We all need people who will love us in such a way. It’s His Kindness that leads us to repentance.(a change of mind and direction,  see link below for more clarity)

Repentance is a Gift

 Prophetic Function

A word of wisdom to those inexperienced in prophetic function: There are times we will be required, through obedience to the Lord, to sacrifice our sense of “self preservation” to protect other people. We need to be willing to take some risks of obedience and be willing to own the process. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s worth it as we may not be privy to, or realize what is at stake until later. This doesn’t guarantee people will listen, but you will have done your part, and God will teach and restore you for any troubles that may come of it.

Another hesitancy people may face is having something in their own past they feel disqualifies them for being a messenger or to intervene in a same/similar situation–but think about it…the best person for such a role could be someone who can identify, who knows the ins and outs of a matter and will come with a humble, wise and understanding heart. Luke 7:47 …her sins, many, are forgiven her–because she has loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little…   The scarred ones become the healers.

Finally and equally important, there may be situations that God reveals but does ask you to be silent and pray only. Knowing which action is the correct one requires sensitivity to Holy Spirit. If you’re really unsure which it is, confer with someone who is seasoned in prophetic function– you can give a scenario, you don’t have to spill the whole thing with names if you’re questioning your information or senses. If you make a mistake, learn from it and move on; don’t allow yourself to shut down and stop functioning prophetically over a mistake. Abandoning your function helps no one, and gives opportunity for other harmful things to occur.

What’s the difference? And what to do?     

Some people, due to their past experiences, age, social or economic position, have a created confusion within them to the point they aren’t sure what to do and end up involved to some degree. It may not even be what they want, but they are as a city broken down, without walls ~Proverbs 25: 28~ e.g. no sense of self-autonomy or self-control; and there are those who will misuse or abuse their positions of power to the detriment of others. People in this situation will need third party involvement to help them get disentangled.

Still others enter a crisis of conscience and do all they know to end the issue (real or misinterpreted), even going so far as to sabotage a relationship and isolate. It may be a faulty and fear based solution, but it’s their best attempt at a change of mind. They may simply be mistaken in their assessments of the situation, such as thinking they are lusting vs being attracted to God within a person, or being influenced by a spirit. They need assistance to understand and to receive the truth. Being able to share with a trustworthy person is a step to freedom and restoration. Hiding or simply withdrawing usually creates unneeded distress and keeps the person feeling vulnerable to a similar scenario later.

Others may be unaware of their compromise; they may be temporarily blinded or in denial. And some people are okay with indiscretions; their behavior is self-focused and needs driven. Their conscience may or may not bother them. Both types of people may need someone to gently confront them in love. Confrontation has gotten a bad rap, but this is due to misunderstanding it.

Confrontation should always be empathetic and for the benefit of the other, not our own “ego”.

Whether you are a in a role of leadership or one led, and you find yourself experiencing a faulty attraction or compromising in inappropriate ways, the best thing to do to is reveal the situation to someone you trust who is spiritually minded, has mature integrity, and who will not simply brush it off or encourage you in it. There are trustworthy people who will understand and help you get disentangled (even if you are under threat, e.g. a Cult), while remaining sensitive to how people may be effected.

There are various reasons relationships can start to become unbalanced or confusing, even within the Church. Often people tend to think the worst and make assumptions, when in fact there may be information missing. Discovering such information can help bring solutions.

If you happen to be an observer and think someone may need help, or believe you’ve heard Holy Spirit, be willing to take a risk (Shamar). Offer to listen non-judgementally and involve only those necessary. Galatians 6:1-6 and 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 & 11

Coming up, Part 5, YOU Ruined My Sex Life, the final part of Secret Longings, Confusing Feelings & Paths to Healing

The Lie Behind All Sexual Brokenness: part 2 

Part 2 of Secret Longings, Confusing Feelings, and Paths to Healing

My guest post today is by my friend Jonathan Brenneman, Missionary to Brazil, and blogger and author of several books. Jonathan shares some historical origins that have influenced our views on sexuality, and reveals the source of our healing. As promised there are resources; check out the links and Jonathan’s book which goes into much more detail on this subject.

  The Lie Behind All Sexual Brokenness

      Antichrists And The Body-Spirit Dichotomy         

 One of my favorite books of the Bible is First John. I’ve read it more times than I know, and I’ve used it to study several languages.

First John teaches us that we can trace every ungodly spirit back to one lie—the denial that Jesus came as God incarnate, in a human body. We can test any spirit by understanding the truth that Jesus came in the flesh. (1 John 4:1-6) John says that any spirit denying that truth is “antichrist.”

What does this have to do with sex? Scholars believe the apostle John wrote this epistle in opposition to the Gnostics. The Gnostics were an early religious sect whose teaching involved a strict dichotomy between the physical world and the spiritual world. They saw the physical world as evil, and the spiritual world as good.

This worldview was the reason they denied that Jesus had come in the flesh. If the physical world was evil and the spiritual world was good, how could a good and holy God have come to dwell in a human body? This was an impossibility to the Gnostic worldview.

We can conclude that an antichrist spirit teaches a strict separation between the body and spirit, and teaches that the body is evil. These lies are at the root of sexual immorality and also of every major problem in today’s societies. Every ungodly spirit denies that Jesus came in the flesh, and thus denies the sanctity of the body.

 How Does This Lie Affect Our View Of Sexuality?

Two different twisted views of sex arose from the Gnostic’s thinking. The first said “My body and spirit are separate. What I do with my body doesn’t affect my spirit, because my body is base anyways, but my spirit is good. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what I do with my body.” This thinking resulted in orgies and gross sexual immorality.

The other twisted view of sex was cloaked in religion. It said “The body is bad, and the spirit is good, therefore sex is bad. If I want to be holy, I must abstain from all sex.” This lie heavily influenced the early church fathers. Through their teaching, it has influenced all of church history. St. Augustine was a Gnostic for almost ten years before becoming a Christian. Although he broke away from Gnosticism in many ways, it continued to influence his thinking. Augustine believed that Adam impregnated his wife by an act of the will alone, with no passion. Although he eventually rejected the view that sex itself was evil, he believed it was sinful for a married couple to experience passion in their sexual relations.

Yet Augustine’s views were moderate compared to many other “church fathers.” St. Jerome had an extreme anti-sexual obsession, claiming that no man who loved his wife would ever have sex with her, and saying stupid things like “Woman is the root of all evil.”

Jerome had a heated conflict with a monk named Jovinius. I like the name Jovinius. I reminds me of the word “Jovial.” What did Jerome think was jovial Jovinius’ big error? Jovinius believed that a married Christian woman was just as holy before God as an unmarried woman. To Jerome, that was heresy, and he blasted Jovinius for it!

Yet whose name do we most often hear in the study of church history? Everyone who knows anything about church history knows the name “Jerome.” He influenced the course of the church for thousands of years. We hear much less about Jovinius!

Just like the first lie, the error of men like Augustine and Jerome resulted in bondage and eventual sexual immorality. Vilifying that which is holy doesn’t produce purity. Vilifying the body (and sex) produces immorality.

The false body/spirit dichotomy that’s behind sexual immorality is the very lie that separates physical healing from Christ’s atonement and applies salvation only to the soul but not to the body. Have you ever wondered why pornography addiction is so rampant in the church? It’s rooted in the spiritualized view of Christianity that Augustine, Jerome, and other early church fathers propogated.

Jesus didn’t just come as a spirit. He came in a human body. He didn’t only heal people’s souls. He healed their bodies. He didn’t only suffer spiritually to save our souls. He suffered physically, carrying our pains and sicknesses, and was physically bruised for the healing of our physical bodies. He doesn’t only live in our hearts. He lives in our bodies. It’s time for us to embrace the gospel that touches the whole person and reject the Gnostic’s spiritualized perversion of truth. Doing so will be a big step towards dealing with the problem of sexual addiction.

Thank God that the church has recently come a long way in breaking away from Jerome’s radical views! But we still tend to see a proliferation of sexual scandals and immorality within religious groups that put a negative slant on sex. I’ve seen it again and again.

People who once bought the lie that sex is evil change over to the lie that it doesn’t matter what you do with your body. They are two sides of the same coin. My grandparents went to a Christian college in NY. It had an “18-inch rule.” Male and female students were forbidden from getting closer than 18 inches away from each other. Hand-holding was definitely out of the question! Today, that college has a reputation as a hotbed of promiscuity.

 The Body-Soul-Spirit Connection

Error in the church was a set-up for many societies to buy the lie that “it doesn’t matter what you do with your body.” Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Modern science shows that the body is closely connected to the mind and soul. Many scientists now state that most disease is primarily caused by emotions and thinking patterns. There’s too much research to refer to in a short article, but Dr. Carolyn Leaf is one of them. If you’re interested in learning more, Dr. Leaf’s book Who Switched Off My Brain? is a good place to start. Emotions and thought patterns affect our bodies by physical processes through the nervous and endocrine systems. The nervous system and the endocrine system link our bodies and our souls.

It works the other way too. What we do with our bodies affects our mental and emotional well-beings. Hormones involved in sex play other roles in our bodies. They are also important in our ability to bond in a healthy way with other people. Porn use and sexual immorality deteriorate that ability. We have plenty of research that backs that up. Science shows that we are biologically wired for sexual monogamy.

In my book, Jesus Has Come In The Flesh, I presented statistics showing that the consequences of sexual promiscuity link closely to every major problem in today’s societies. These include physical health problems, mental health problems, divorce, fatherlessness, violence, substance abuse, incarceration, poverty, early death, behavioural disorders, homelessness, suicide, children’s poor school grades, and more.

Some continue to dispute the facts, against all reason. However, there’s a growing “no-fap” movement of people seeking to abstain from porn and solo-sex. The unique thing about this movement is that it’s not primarily religious. Many participants are atheists. The main motivator for these people to stop porn and solo-sex is that they feel bad with these activities, and they feel so much better without them.

Why? Because sexual morality isn’t just some meaningless religious code. It’s what humans are biologically wired for, and even atheists can feel it. As Rui Miguel Costa noted, “The only sexual behaviour consistently related to better psychological and physical health is PVI.” (Penile-Vaginal Intercourse) A healthy sex life between spouses befits their well-being and helps to hold together healthy relationships.

The Good News!

The good news is redemption! Jesus came in the flesh. He came to redeem you body, soul, and spirit. He is the truth. He’s able and willing to free you from the lies of an antichrist spirit which result in sexual bondage and brokenness. He is life, and he wants to restore you to the abundant life that he created you for.

The scriptural basis for sexual purity is that Jesus has come in the flesh. He didn’t only come in a human body two-thousand years ago, but his spirit dwells in our bodies if we have received him. When we put our faith in Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and receive his life within, our bodies become his temple. This is the biblical basis for sexual purity. Your body is holy, and Jesus has come in your flesh!

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (NIV) Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

My body is holy. It’s the temple of the Holy Spirit. My body is connected to my soul and spirit. These seem like such simple truths, but it’s amazing how understanding them helps people to get free from sexual bondage and torment. I know several guys who had heard the church teach against sexual immorality for years yet were still hooked on porn. One of the main things that finally helped them get free was reading up on the science of sexual addiction and breaking this false body/spirit dichotomy.

Here are some good websites that include research on effects of porn use and sexual addiction. You can also check out my book Jesus Has Come In The Flesh, which highlights the correlations between sexual immorality and other major problem of society. It then continues as a manifesto for re-sensitizing society and undoing the devil’s works by demonstrating that Jesus has come in the flesh.

www.yourbrainonporn.com
www.fightthenewdrug.org
www.pornharmsresearch.com
www.socialcostsofpornography.com
www.nofap.com

SSA: Secret Longings, Confusing Feelings & Paths to Healing Part 1

I’m a bit behind on posting; a new semester has begun with the subject matter of Senior Counseling; Women’s Studies & Feminism; and Human Sexuality. The latter two courses especially have got me thinking–those along with some conversations I’ve had over time with “church people” about confusing feelings and what they often identify as lust, particularly as related to authority figures or leaders. Given those conversations, it’s evident sexuality has become (or always has been) a topic too important to remain completely private within the church or elsewhere.

Now is as good a time as any to move past our blushes, bring it into the open, and do a miniseries on this topic. To start it off, I’ve asked my friend John Spencer to guest post. I  appreciate and thank him for his transparency and courage as he shares his experiences and perspective. I hope you will too. While readers may or may not agree, I  ask that we respect his journey and beliefs. Our hope is by bringing some of these issues to light, that some might benefit. Here’s John.

**Content warning: this will be an honest account of some of my sexual struggles during my life and may not be appropriate for minors nor for those of a sensitive nature**

I never felt affirmed as a man.  I felt that I was a disappointment to my father and didn’t measure up.  My father-in-law also didn’t see me as a man and whilst I remember joking in my wedding speech that “it’s not so much losing a daughter but gaining a womanly-bloke” the truth is I didn’t feel like a “proper” man.  Getting married didn’t fix that.  Nor did becoming a father.  I felt the constant need for approval of a father-figure that I never received growing up.

During my early marriage I acted out by looking at pornographic images of women. I knew it was wrong and I hated myself for it.  I used to take out my anger on my wife.  Often as a defensive mechanism because if she got too close she would expose who I really was and I didn’t want that.  So I’d make out that it was her fault. However, whilst early exposure to pornography and subsequent masturbation had hardwired my brain to women, the yearning for manly approval grew and became more sexual.

I started fantasizing about kissing certain men when I was talking to them.  I needed to feel loved and wanted by these men.  But I knew that this was wrong too*.  And I hated myself for it.  I tried to suppress it but it kept coming back.  Just like the way I projected my self-loathing onto my wife due to my pornographic addiction, I projected my self-loathing about my same-sex attraction onto gays.  I would see homosexuality as the unforgivable sin and loathe them in my heart.

Some will interject now and say “you need to accept these desires as natural and reject this outdated religious bigotry”.  However, to quote CS Lewis:
“He (Satan) always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites.  And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse.  You see why of course?  He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one.  But do not let us be fooled.  We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both ‘errors’.”

Instead of denying my desires or just accepting and acting on them, I expressed them to Jesus.

I honestly told Him about my struggles.  As I admitted the truth, I brought these desires into the light and that was when the transformation began.  He opened my eyes to the fact that it was only men in authority that I wanted to kiss.  It was because of my feeling so unmanly, so unworthy, so useless that was the root of my desire to be accepted and loved by authority figures.

Jesus has all authority (Mt 28:18), he is above every power and authority (Eph 1:20-22; Phil 2:9-10) and he loves me (Jn 15:9,12).  As I have been receiving the approval of the ultimate authority I have become more whole.  As I have drunk deep of Christ’s masculinity I have become more manly.  As I have received the Father’s love and approval my desires for men have simply faded away.  I have become complete and whole in Him who is my all in all (1 Cor 15:28).

GK Chesterton said “Everyone who knocks on the door of a brothel is searching for God”. God has made us creatures of desire and Jesus is the “desire of the nations” (Hag 2:7) – the only one who can truly satisfy our longings whether they be same sex attraction, pornography addiction, paedophilia, food, smoking or simply the desire to be famous or rich. No finite thing can satisfy our longing for the infinite. Stop drinking out of broken cisterns (Jer 2:13), and return to the source of living water (Jn 4:13-14).

* It’s not the purpose of this article to defend the traditional Christian view of homosexuality.  Others have done that adequately elsewhere.  Any plain sense reading of passages such as Rom 1:26-27 and a correct understanding of hermeneutics will support this.  However, we mustn’t get pushed into the false dichotomy of if I don’t agree I must hate gays.

John Spencer is a child of God, a husband and a father of six children (four on earth and two in heaven). He writes about his journey into wholeness and how parents can communicate a godly vision of sexuality to their children at godlysexuality.org.

NOTE from LifeTree: all comments are moderated but please, do add to the conversation, even anonymously. Discussion helps others come out of hiding and heal.  John was kind enough to revise his original article which you can find here:

https://godlysexualityblog.com/2016/06/17/an-alternative-ending-to-the-orlando-shooting/

Gold Dust, Wonder, and Healing

Gold dust, Wonder & Healing

  The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, How are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!  Lamentations 4:2

I saw him glance at me out of the corner of his eye when I passed by; as I returned the look he glanced away. I perceived he “knew something” about me in that moment. He had “the look” people have when they get a word of knowledge (a supernatural insight or knowledge about a person that couldn’t otherwise be known). 
Looking ahead I searched for my friend who had invited me. I hadn’t been sure I would come, but curiosity and maybe even indignant rebellion against  intimidation and bad memories rose up in me. So I went. But with a mixed jumble of ambivalence. 
This was the church I’d grown up in, that had been home. It was also the church of my suffering and shame. 

Bittersweet

Coming back again was challenging; even though I had grown so much, it was difficult crossing the threshold through the doors, and greeting the old saints and new people as I passed by. 

I didn’t know much about the guest speaker either, only that my friend seemed excited and she was leading worship, so heck ya, that was reason enough.   
The service closed with an invitation for prayer and to receive from God. I was so eager to “get some” that I jumped up before most of the people who regularly attended there and inadvertently half stepped on the gal’s foot I had to cross over to get out of the pew. 

The microphone was left on so everyone heard what was said, but it didn’t matter because whatever men can be to one another, God had been more than faithful to me… I trusted Him. And I couldn’t have imagined what was about to occur. 

“Put your hands out.” I did as he said thinking he’d take my hands to pray. “Turn them palms up.” I did. Curious. 

“Do you see that little bit of gold on your hands?” My eyes flicked to my palms and back again, searching his face uncertainly. Did he mean my gold wedding band? That little bit of gold? 

I looked at him intently. He looked back just so.  I looked at my hands again. 

Then he began to tell of my pain and shame I had experienced through the religiosity of the leaders and some of saints there, more than once, past and still fairly recent. He began to speak of the value I had, of the wealth and worth God placed in me, of identity and honor. 

I looked again at my hands-I could see faint sparkles on both palms where I hadn’t seen anything moments before. I drank in all that was being spoken, a bit dazzled that Dad would choose to redeem the damning experiences and my self worth in this manner. 



Wonderstruck, I returned to my seat to soak it in and listen for God to expound on what He’d just done. The lady whose foot I’d stepped on grabbed my closest hand and pressed it to her cheek, eyes closed,  a raptured look on her face. Then she released it and quickly apologized. I smiled and assured her I understood completely! This was not something any of us had experienced, and only few had even heard of. 

There was this one niggling nagging thing though. I had worn a glittering gold powder on my cheeks that night and I knew I had touched my face with my palms. So… was it makeup on my hands or real glory and gold dust from heavenly realms?  It bothered me because I’m a truth seeker. Just give me the truth- beautiful, plain, raw or ugly-just don’t lie or trick me. Here lay an opportunity both men and devils seek-the kind that lead to faith or disbelief. 

I didn’t want to doubt, or have this blessing fade from my mind as it would from my hands, so I whispered to Father, “You know I just want truth- is this gold dust or makeup? At tomorrow night’s meeting, I’ll wear powder that’s matte, no hint of sparkle anywhere, and if this is really gold dust, would you do it again Dad? Let my palms be misted with gold again tomorrow night.” 
I made extra sure to wear matte make up and washed my hands doubly well. No trace of sparkle anywhere-checked and double checked. Standing in the worship time I glanced at my hands. Nothing. Disappointment edged closer, looking for a little place to call home again. Hope deferred had too often visited my heart.

A little bit later I looked again and my heart leapt! My palms glinted and twinkled just as they had the night before. Gold dust! Every word that had been spoken to me the previous night was established even deeper. Words of worth, words of love, faith and hope. 

What is better,  is time and time again Dad has affirmed me with love and honor where men and women have maimed, blamed, or shamed. He knows who we really are, and He loves to tell us. 

I’ve read somewhere that man was originally made of gold particles, rather than dust; gold dust, if you will. I’ve done word searches and haven’t found that exact interpretation; it appears to render as clay. A wonderful thing about clay is it’s re-moldable. If it becomes marred, it can be refashioned by the potter’s hands, even remade into more noble vessel for honorable use. 

Whether the material He used was common clay or gold dust, everything Dad touches turns to Gold and He declares several times in His love letter to man kind that we are precious, worth more than gold, and He has promised every testing will bring out the gold in us. 

If you’ve been marred in identity and purpose, know that Dad sees the value in you, He fashioned you in His heart before He knit your soul and spirit to your body in the womb. Whatever your life experiences, your life is of great worth. He will reveal the truth of this to you again and again. Jesus came because you have value, you are priceless to him. And given your “yes” He will renew  your whole being-spirit, soul, and body. Transfiguration is awaiting you…

Turns out, we are fashioned with gold…

http://www.gold-traders.co.uk/gold-information/how-much-gold-is-found-in-the-human-body.asp

And on an interesting side note: Until very recent times gold was used as a heart remedy, … Homeopathic doctors still use it in this manner in high dilutions and regard it as a remedy for depressive or suicidal conditions: a ‘total eclipse of the heart’. Its distribution within the human organism reaches its highest concentration in the region of the heart. Gold is used by doctors to diagnose heart problems. As the highest concentrations of gold in the human body occur around the heart, a radio-isotope of gold has been developed (the Au-195 isotope), which can give an image of the blood-containing structures within the heart, a process called ‘heart-imaging’. Gold gives a heart image! In Britain this new technology has been developed in St. Bartholomew’s hospital, London. One expert described the gold used in this way as ‘a very convenient medium for rapid assessment of changes in cardiac function’ (3,4). ~Nick Kollerstrom
Image credits to Pinterest and Megapixel

The Difference Between Lack of Faith and Unbelief

My guest post today is by my beloved friend Yvette Dempster of The Adoption Ministries. I know you will benefit tremendously! That’s why I’m sharing. 

Have you ever heard someone say they needed to increase their faith? Or have you ever said–when you didn’t see an answer to prayer– that something must be wrong with your faith? Have you ever thought you had a lack of faith? If so, I have good news! You don’t have a faith problem!

http://the-adoption.org/the-difference-between-lack-of-faith-and-unbelief/