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The Link Between Defensiveness and Shame Part I

October 24, 2014

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Do you know anyone who is defensive, critical, or has a problem with anger from time to time? That is proof positive that they are operating their lives from an identity of shame. I should know. I used to be one. As a matter of fact, most of us suffer from it to one degree or the other. So this is a topic worthy of everyone’s attention.

The Need to Defend – Rooted in Death and Pain

defensive-communication-manSo why do we defend ourselves so vehemently that we are willing to risk our closest relationships in order to cast all blame away from ourselves? Psychologists consider the experience of shame to be equivalent to the death of the soul.[1] It leaves us feeling the need to defend our very lives and, if possible, to also hide.

Neuroscientists have discovered that shame is registered in the brain as strong physical pain. It may even be the strongest pain experienced by the human body.[2] So, naturally, we will do anything we can to defend ourselves against or run from experiencing that sort of pain. By doing so, we subconsciously believe that we will be saving our lives. But we can’t save ourselves. We need help.

The interesting thing is, we don’t necessarily know that we are in pain. That is because we have equipped ourselves with a variety of defensive psychological strategies to help us avoid experiencing the pain. But our pain is still there; buried. By that I mean that our pain is attached to memories that make us react defensively or in anger when they are touched. These defensive strategies are often referred to as coping behaviors. While being angry and defensive can be damaging to our relationships and jobs; there are some avoidance behaviors that are as destructive to our health as they are to our productivity and success. Therefore, with so much at stake, it behooves each of us to learn how we can get set free.

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Of course, we can never be rid of our memories. But with the right information and strategies, we can learn how to get rid of shame’s destructive effects. Lets start by learning a bit about what shame really is and how it affects us.

In this series of articles, I will share more information and tools to help you take positive steps towards healing. So please make sure you subscribe or contact me to get updates as articles come out. (I have just divided this article into two shorter articles so the next one will be out shortly after this one.)

The Power of Shame to Distort Identities

shame-on-youWhen I am speaking of shame, I am not referring to the sort of shame that simply makes us feel guilty and ashamed for doing something wrong. This type of shame is referred to as healthy shame. We definitely need healthy shame to keep us humble, respectful, and law abiding. Nevertheless, we need to get set free of any healthy shame we are dealing with, too. But this is a bit easier to rid ourselves of.

What I am referring to is the sort of shame that becomes a part of our identity. It isn’t the feeling of doing something wrong but of being wrong. This is called toxic shame.

The difference between these two forms of shame may appear subtle at first but if you want to conquer it, it is vitally important that you grasp the difference. The first form of shame has to do with doing, the second has to do with being. In other words, with healthy shame I will say, “I have a flaw.” With toxic shame, I will say to myself, “I AM flawed.” It is the feeling that “I am a mistake” versus “I have made a mistake.” With toxic shame we have taken on shame as an identity. In other words, it is not something we can quickly get over simply by apologizing. It takes a concerted effort and a commitment to be rid of this form of shame. All in all, shame as an identity is the feeling of somehow being “less than” or even less deserving than others. This is a distortion of one’s true identity.

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It is often useful to understand shame through another perspective. Let’s look at its connection to sin. There are sins we commit against ourselves and sins against others. Sin, in general, separates us from others. This happens because we have either made an unrighteous choice that offends or harms someone in the process or a sin against ourselves eventually causes some form of separation between us and others to occur (e.g., death from alcoholism). Therefore, healthy shame is connected to our own wrong doing. The remedy is simple. A change in our own behavior and seeking forgiveness will generally be all that is required.

Toxic shame, however, is much more complex and difficult to resolve. It is typically the result of someone’s sin against us; real or imagined. We experience toxic shame when we are rejected, humiliated, or when someone perpetrates a crime or offense against us. But it can also come to us as the result of a major disappointment or suffering a traumatic event; neither of which necessarily involve a sin. Toxic shame can also come from a false perception we have about ourselves; typically arising from our childhoods. This is because children are too young to discern the difference between what is true and what is false. But any situation we deem as shaming can do damage to us. Consequently, we may have formed a false sense of unrighteousness within our souls. In other words, we may have decided that there was something wrong with us. It is this false sense of being wrong, flawed, or “less than” that makes people become easily offended and defensive.

The Damaging Effects of Shame

The reach of shame in our lives is quite broad and the number of problems it contributes to is extensive; so much so that I can’t get into all of them in a single article. But I will touch on a few to help you get an idea why it is so important to commit yourself to getting set free.

Because shame is registered as actual pain, human beings can suffer from a wide range of negative physical and psychological effects. This is because we will go to great lengths to avoid experiencing our pain; pain which is kept “safely” buried beneath the surface. Consequently, our shame is usually the root that lies beneath many of our worst choices in life not to mention our conflicts with others. One example of this was, as already discussed, our defensiveness which also manifests as a means to avoid pain.

There are other behaviors we will engage in to help us avoid feeling pain as well. Some of our choices may, at first, actually seem quite productive but when we engage in them in order to avoid feeling the pain of shame, they generally have control over us (e.g., obsessive working, exercising or cleaning house) turning us into their slaves. A great many other choices that we make are much more destructive. For example, when we comfort ourselves with drugs, alcohol, food, or by spending too much time numbing our minds in front of the television or computer, we are self medicating with substances that can erode our health and steal away our most valuable time.

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I have already explained how shame distorts the self. This can affect our overall self-esteem and self-concept. Not only will this have an impact our level of confidence, but it can create intimacy issues with others.

The reason shame holds such tremendous power over the human psyche is because during childhood our perception of ourselves was connected to others’ perceptions of us. Consequently, it is through our interactions with others that we are often reminded of our earlier memories of shame and self-hatred. It is also why human beings are so vulnerable to being manipulated, controlled, and even abused by those they love or care about.

When people have taken on an identity of shame they are much more likely to be narcissistic, prone to depression and anger, and a lot less capable of really connecting with others on a truly intimate and authentic level.

Distance and Disconnection

 

Our avoidance of shame makes it much more difficult for us to listen to the hearts of others; even affecting our ability to share our own. As you can see, it really behooves us to confront and heal our toxic memories and thoughts; if not for our own sake but for our loved ones as well.

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Over the past 35 years, nearly all of the people I have coached, counseled, or conducted a conflict mediation for have attributed their worst problems in life to this identity of shame; whether they suffered through a divorce, a drinking problem, or an autoimmune disorder, shame was to blame. Worst case scenarios can leave people who suffer from shame facing addictions, joblessness, or mental illness. Sometimes, it can even turn them into the perpetrators of violence, domestic abuse, or murder.

Before and After Meth (2 Years)

Before and After Meth (2 Years)

accelerated transformationAfter I dedicated one of my Master’s Theses to this topic of shame, I felt that I had to publish a book with my findings because I realized how little the general public really knew about this pervasive problem. Ministers in the church have experience dealing with shame, but they usually focus on the sin aspect of healthy shame. They rarely understand the powerful psychological dynamics behind toxic shame. How do I know this? For 27 years, I was not able to get totally set free until I ran across this knowledge.  Although I made sure to include entertaining examples of how toxic shame operates as well as my own personal journey to healing and freedom, I found that there was surprisingly a lot of scholarly and biblical evidence supporting how the experience of shame can distort our identities.

I didn’t write this book to simply call attention to the problem but to see people quickly healed. You see, toxic shame isn’t quite as simple to get set free from as healthy shame. It still requires the supernatural help of the cross, but its grip is so tenacious that we usually need more than just a single trip to the altar to get set free. That is why it typically takes a lifetime to get there. However, God has given me techniques in recent years to accelerate our results, hence this is why the title of my book is Accelerated Transformation: Maturity, Intimacy, and Unity through Emotional Healing.

 Relate to Anything in this Article?

If I have touched upon anything you recognize about yourself in this article, then you likely live from an identity of shame and may want to read each article in this series to help you get a better understanding about what you are facing.* In these articles, I will provide you with tools you will need to deal with it in an effective manner. Won’t you examine your heart to see if this has affected your connection with your heart, with God, or others and commit yourself to getting well?

Resources for Further Study or Assistance

Look for other articles to come in the next week or so. These will go a long way to helping you learn how to set yourself back on the right path. I suggest that you subscribe to my blog to get updates when they get published online. To do this, place your email in the blank provided on the upper right side of my blog (at thespotlessbride.wordpress.com). I am not yet sure how to set up my RSS feed yet, so if that doesn’t work, that is why.Woman-Studying-Online-Ashford-University

Be aware that you may feel some pain surface in your heart after reading all of this. This is completely normal and expected. If it does, I don’t suggest letting it stay there. You may contact me for help if you wish.I do have a pastoral counseling/coaching service* (as well as conflict management and negotiation business) that you may want to consider utilizing if I have the space. If not, I can, at the very least point you in the right direction. In some cases I will work on a donation basis according to what some people can afford.

Counselling and Support

Here is a contact form to get in touch with me. Just fill it out and be sure to watch your junk mail for my reply. You may have to wait a few days at most as I may be out of town teaching. But I will be in touch no matter what:

transformedMay I suggest you also consider getting my book? This is in no way, shape, or form a sales pitch. I’d give it to you for free if I could. (I’d like to find a financial sponsor who’d let me be able to afford to do that so please contact me if you are interested). My aim is to see this might happen one day. But my book is truly a useful tool for providing you with exercises and vital knowledge that you will need to help you to heal and get set free from the shame you are suffering from. I can’t tell you in a short article just how detrimental allowing this shame to live in your heart will be for you and your family, but take a look at the upcoming articles as well as others on my blog to find out. I can be contacted through my website http://thespotlessbride.com. Keep in mind that I will have another book and transformation curriculum published in 2015 as well.

Please like and share this article with others if you think it is of value and thank you! May God bless you on your journey.

 

References:

1) Bradshaw, J. (2005). Healing the Shame that Binds You.  (2nd ed.). Deerfield   Beach, FL: Health Communications Inc.

2) Aron, E. (2008). Coping Corner: Highly Sensitive People and Shame. [Blog]. From http://www.hsperson.com/pages/3Nov08.htm

3) Nelson, T. (2010). Accelerated Transformation: Maturity, Intimacy, and Unity though Emotional Healing. Santa Rosa, FL: Christian International.

4) Colossians 3:9, Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22, Galatians 2:20

5) Bradshaw, J. (2005). Healing the Shame that Binds You.  (2nd ed.). Deerfield   Beach, FL: Health Communications Inc.

6) Romans 12:2

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© Tracey Nelson, M.Ed.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by The Spotless Bride Ministries.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Tracey Nelson, M.Ed., author Accelerated Transformation , © Oct. 21, 2014 Website: The Spotless Bride Blog; (Some images, songs, & videos not owned by author).

*Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is meant to serve as medical advice. If you feel you are suffering from a mental illness, you need to seek the counsel of a certified mental health worker.new-creation

Being Ready to Give a Defense for the Hope that is within You

October 3, 2014

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But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. (I Peter 3:15 ESV)

The Internet empowers Christians to express their faith openly and freely without the same intimidation and fear of rejection that a face-to-face encounter might produce. I am not saying that Christians won’t experience negative emotions when challenged, but there is a greater sense of safety inside the home far from the person being addressed. That makes the Internet an excellent tool for evangelism. Nevertheless, Christians have to be very cautious that they walk in compassion speaking the truth in love at all times particularly when they run across someone’s hatred of Christianity. Whether a challenge comes from someone who is really seeking answers or someone who is just being ugly, it doesn’t matter. This presents the perfect opportunity to show the world the mercy, love, and grace of God. Hopefully, while also sharing a carefully thought out and well researched answer as well. The same is required even if a Christian brother or sister says something that doesn’t line up with one’s interpretation of Scripture.

What I would like to talk about next is the temptation to say something spiteful in reaction to such a challenge. Simply because people can get away with expressing their anger online without fear of suffering any social repercussions, it doesn’t mean we should do it. God holds us to the same accountability when we are hiding behind a login name as when we are face-to-face with someone.

Why Not Just Blast them with the Truth?

Speaking-the-TruthSometimes Christians, especially newbies, will take an Old Testament tone with people. While the prophets may have sounded harsh when God was warning His children of upcoming disciplinary actions if they didn’t change their ways, He only did this during times of extreme disobedience and only as a last ditch effort save them. When Christians do this today, the world is watching. Not only are they not reflecting the grace and mercy God provided through the New Covenant. But we are in a time unlike any other time in history. Our interactions online are seen by hundreds, sometimes tens of thousands or even millions of people. Consequently, our responsibility for our words is that much higher.

The apostle, Paul, said we are always to “speak the truth in love” to one another (Ephesians 4:15). Walking in love and patience towards others is what fosters true maturity. When our faith in a particular point of doctrine is challenged, we are presented with an equal opportunity for growth.

The mature response to the challenges we face would be to use these conflicts to our faith as motivation to dig deeper for the answers. In seeking answers for the person who has presented us with this challenge, we become better informed and more able to “give a defense” for the hope that is within us.

However, wounding others with our bitter frustrations will stoke up the fires of anger in people’s hearts. This can only serve to repel them away from Christ, not attract them towards Him, as follows:

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 NKJV)

Be Like Jesus

In other words, the world judges Christianity and Jesus by how they see Christians treating others.

Furthermore, creating a wound in the heart of the person we are addressing, is equal to physically harming a person. How can that be, you may ask? Jesus said just calling someone a fool puts us in danger of hell fire (see Matthew 5:21-23).

If you study psychology, it will make much more sense why that is. Social psychologists say that we are essentially guilty of murder when we shame others. In a nutshell, our psyche, which comprises of our identity, self-concept, and self-worth, are deeply tied to the views of others. Therefore, when we call someone a fool for believing the way they do, we are potentially murdering their soul. Watch for my next article explaining how this happens.

With all of that said, I do understand the impulse to react in anger. It can be very hard to hold one’s tongue under some circumstances, especially when Christians are younger and are eager to tell people what they have discovered (this can even be hard for older Christians sometimes). So it helps a lot to go deeper into understanding the mechanisms behind why we may react that way. To learn more about the dynamics at work behind the scenes in our psyche, read my next article (due out October 8th, link forthcoming).

Overcoming Negative Reactions

There are various reasons for encountering a negative reaction when witnessing to someone. The most common one is that Christians are often persecuted. But that is just something we Christians need prepare ourselves for. To overcome this, it helps to understand a few things.

One, taking the risk to open up and share our faith leaves our hearts vulnerable. So when someone reacts in anger towards us, especially someone we care about, we experience pain. We often feel exposed and rejected for our good intentions. We may even feel humiliated particularly if the person is immature and begins taunting us. Sometimes, the discomfort experienced by this shame (having experienced soul murder), can even put younger Christians at risk of losing their faith (learn more about this in the next article). So it is natural for those weak in their faith to want to conform to the world at this point in time. Conforming to the world may give them a sense of power and strength during a time when they are feeling their weakest.

If Christians don’t seek to bring back homeostasis to themselves by giving in, they may strike out against the person presenting the challenge in order to reestablish the balance of power they feel they have just lost. Experiencing rejection often leaves us feeling like a failure or diminished in some way. But this will less likely if we are well equipped to provide others with the specific answers they are seeking. If we are ill equipped, however, they can easily twist our words and make us sound silly (the Gospel is foolishness to those who are wise in their own eyes). This can be quite a humiliating experience. So it isn’t so unusual for the children of God to strike out saying, “After all, I’m God’s kid, I have the truth! Plus they needed to know how evil they were being.”

I know. Sometimes ya just wanna throw around a few “Woe, unto them…” scriptures when you get frustrated right? For example this one from Isaiah 5:21 is always fun to use, “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

I realize that these feelings can be very difficult to sort out in the heat of the moment. It may feel like we have come under attack and, therefore, must attack back. While it may be true, we are, indeed, facing spiritual warfare and, therefore, it is only natural to have this sort of defensive reaction, we are told that this spiritual warfare is not to be waged against flesh and blood. So hopefully what I have to share with you here will help some resist that urge.Defend the Faith

Check Your Motivation

It is one thing to want to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others on the Internet out of love. It is quite another if we are being motivated by the need to prove we are right. Yes, we do need to give a defense for the hope that is within us. Bit we also need to consider our motivation for taking on the conflict before replying.

If we are coming from a heart that seeks elevation in order to feel superior over others, the answer will come off cold and haughty. They will know that we are not concerned about them. Many times that is, at least part of the motivation.

Needing to use such opportunities to get the upper hand over people proves that we are likely still in bondage to the world’s opinions of us and have not yet learned how to stand on Christ’s righteousness as we are instructed to do. In other words, when we enter the argument to prove that we are right, we are basically still trying to earn our way into Heaven.

In reading this, if you have just discovered that answering this person is fulfilling a need to prove you are right, that doesn’t mean you can’t answer the challenge they have prepared for you. Just go into it asking God to help you. Carefully weigh your words to make sure that you are saying them in love. Then, get your “need to be right” healed. Jesus wants to wash us clean of that need with His mercy and grace. He wants to set us free from a performance-based form of acceptance.

Being Prepared to Give an Intelligent Answer

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How do you know God is not dead? Be ready with a convincing answer. Don’t merely tell people it is just because you know it to be true or saw Jesus one day. Other Christians may take you at your word because of their inner witness. But don’t be surprised if those closest to you, even your own family, won’t take you at your word. They rarely do. For some reason, those who know our heart best often don’t. Now you know how God felt when Adam and Eve didn’t give Him the benefit of the doubt. This hard lesson teaches us that we need to study Christian apologetics. We need to arm ourselves with knowledge to provide answers to those who ask. We also need to practice sharing our testimony with others so we get better at it.

Some Christians are just not as adept at speaking nor as knowledgeable about their subject area as they would like to be. But we need to practice, so sometimes falling flat on our face is the only way. We need to get a better feel how to debate others. But it helps to learn a bit more about giving persuasive speeches. Usually what we will learn from these experiences is that we need to gain more knowledge if we are to become a really intelligent debater. It is really important to get a better understanding of your faith from a variety of angles. Learn what people think about your faith. What is the scientific point of view? What do Mormons think? How about Methodists? Do I agree or disagree? And why?

But when a debate brings up difficult or bitter emotions that make you squirm, then you need to examine what is making you feel that way. This will help you work in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to ascertain how to get that part of your psyche healed, delivered, and transformed. Once again, watch for my next article for how to do this. I will link to it when it is done but you can subscribe to get a notification reminder.

Don’t be dismayed by these challenges. Ponder the things covered in this article then decide what it is that you need to do in order to stand up to the challenges to your faith with peace, love, and clarity when your faith comes under fire. Some resources that will help are as follows:

Christian Apologetics

Christian apologetics is what is is called when one learns how to defend their faith. A good starting point for this would be to check out the YouTube videos and books of these credible scholars:

  • Lee Strobel (former atheist and investigative reporter)
  • Dr. John Lennox (Oxford Professor of Mathematics)
  • Chuck Missler (Engineer/information scientist, former CEO & member of gov’t think tanks)
  • Peter Hitchins (brother of famous atheist Christopher Hitchens)

Here is a quick video of Dr. John Lennox for a sample of what to expect:

Dealing with Anger and the Need to be Right

Whether your issue is anger, the need to be right, pride, low self-esteem or you are just searching for a good Bible study to help yourself or others to get well on their way to being transformed into the image and likeness of Christ, this website, as well as the following should help. The book showcased in the right column of this blog is entitled, Accelerated Transformation: Maturity, Intimacy, and Unity through Emotional Healing. It combines my expertise as an adult educator (Master’s Degree #1) and as a conflict negotiator/mediator (Master’s Degree #2) and my thirty-five years of mentoring/coaching new disciples in Christ to help believers at any stage of development to walk in greater victory, freedom, and power. Learn more about it by clicking the link. above, and going to my other website: The Spotless Bride. Again, the upcoming article will also help (link forthcoming).

I have not found many people online who write about such topics. If you found this article helpful, please share it with others using the links below. You can subscribe to be notified when new articles come out. Either way, let me hear your thoughts in the comments as well. Thank you!

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© Tracey Nelson, M.Ed.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by The Spotless Bride Ministries.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Tracey Nelson, M.Ed., author Accelerated Transformation , © Oct. 3, 2014 Website: The Spotless Bride Blog; (Some images, songs, & videos not owned by author).

Which Title Do You Like Best for My Blog?

October 3, 2014

dirty-bride-of-christ2Maybe you could help me out. Which title do you like best?

-Healing Christ’s Bride

-The Spotless Bride (original)

-or something else (suggestions?)

Comment below to let me know the one or an alternative suggestion you like best. I like comments best, but please try my poll at the end of this article.

Originally, I started this blog because of how ugly Christians were being to their fellow brothers and sisters on the Internet. They did this just because they disagreed with their particular worship style or beliefs. Most of the time, these weren’t major, salvation-affecting beliefs either. We definitely need to have discussions about these things, but hiding behind a login name so a person can take pot shots at others demonstrates major immaturity and completely turns the lost off to Jesus.

Understandably, the sort of freedom that the Internet provides to Christians to express themselves without being held accountable may feel really good after facing so much frustration after trying to share their faith in the past. Instead, we are to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) to one another. This is what foster true maturity. Wounding others with our bitter frustrations only stokes up the fires of the flesh and repels people away from Christ.

bride-of-christI seek to use this blog to address the root of that sort of behavior, promoting healing, dealing with performance-based acceptance, encouraging people to become knowledgeable debaters in issues regarding their faith, plus any other issue that may cause people to feel conflicted with one another over their beliefs. We also discuss relationship problems, Christian unity and accelerated transformation. Ultimately, the hope is that my book will be showcased as a valuable resource for helping believers be transformed. With subject matter like that, what title do you think fits best? Thanks for taking the time to sound in!

Levels of Salvation: Global Transformation through Unity

May 7, 2014

The experience of salvation in Christ is progressive and ongoing throughout a lifetime. ~Tracey Nelson, Accelerated Transformation

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How does God transform the world? He starts with the individual first.

What does this process of global transformation look like? Here is a bird’s eye view.

[Please keep watch for my next article about the history of the Church where I will feature evidence to any doubters out there that Christianity changes the world for the better. Hopefully it will encourage the hearts of those of us who already recognize this fact.]

The Journey to Transformation 

Salvation starts with the individual first, reconciling him to God and his eternal destiny in Heaven.

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Eventually, he is also reconciled to others as his own heart becomes firmly grounded in the love of Christ through grace.

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But all of this happens gradually. It is a process of growing in his awareness of what is needed to be restored to mankind’s former glory. 

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This means establishing his identity in Christ’s image.

Reflected Royalty

He gains greater awareness of his new identity by reading God’s Word. The application of this Word to his life is what transforms Him into that image.  

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Like any child, he accomplishes this through his walk and personal relationship with his Father through Jesus (because the visual representation of all the attributes of the Father were in Jesus, our role model).

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By healing his heart through this loving relationship with the Father (and, hopefully with a nurturing community of believers or mentor by his side), the new believer is better equipped to love himself. This helps to correct the destructive thinking patterns that arose from his wounds. These wounds had hardened his heart with pride. This pride had separated him from greater intimacy with God, others, and even himself. 

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Consequently, due to the inner strength gained from this transformation, his health is naturally likely to be restored, his relationships will become healthier, his conflicts more capable of being smoothed out, and his financial prospects likely to increase.

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Eventually his personal transformation progresses outward towards others. 

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God’s grace then flows through his heart with love, forgiveness, and mercy, breaking down the walls of pride and removing the masks of insecurity, pain, and defensiveness that had once blocked these relationships.

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In other words, people who are set free of the need to “be perfect,” have permission to “get real” with others. These people are more humble and therefore more approachable because they embrace their vulnerabilities, limitations, and weaknesses. And they don’t judge others for theirs.

Acceptance

Soon, with the greater strength and inner fortitude that were gained through this process, his confidence and trust in the Holy Spirit to help with the harder things of life grows.

Trust

This confidence, in turn, helps him take on the character of Christ which assists him in the resolution of conflicts with others; again, promoting greater intimacy, authenticity, maturity, and social justice.

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These humble Christians are truly mature and basically about as close to being perfect or “spotless” in character as one can be, having conquered the inner demon of selfishness, valuing others ahead of himself.

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It is not hard to see how this would promote Christian unity. 

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Christian unity will lead the world to believe in Christ. How do I know this? Jesus already laid out His plan for world transformation for us:

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me... (John 17:22-23 NIV)

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35 NIV)

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Christians from every denomination and persuasion are joining together united in love in order to commit themselves to pray for their towns. Consequently, whole cities are being transformed.

Here is the evidence…

Manchester, Kentucky – Amazing story of an entire community’s transformation all because of Christian unity and prayer! It was formerly full of governmental corruption with a large percentage of the population on drugs.

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Elsewhere in the world, after Christians from all faiths gathered in prayer, here is what happened:

  • In Cali, Columbia, the crime and murder rates fell drastically as the police uprooted long-standing drug lords.
  • In Kenya, all of the bars except for one turned into churches.
  • In Hemet, California, they experienced a dramatic reduction in occult activity as well as an increase in church activity.
  • In Almolonga, Guatamala 85% of the population turned to Christ where it once was full of violence, witchcraft, alcoholism, and crime. Now there are even Christian street signs and churches everywhere!

Sign says: "Jesus is Lord of Almolonga"

Sign says: “Jesus is Lord of Almolonga”

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© Tracey Nelson, M.Ed.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by The Spotless Bride Ministries.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Tracey Nelson, M.Ed., author Accelerated Transformation , © May, 8, 2014 Website: The Spotless Bride Blog; (Some images, songs, & videos not owned by author).

The Catholic Church Seeks Help of Leaders in Charismatic Movement to Revitalize Church

February 25, 2014

Please like, subscribe, and/or comment, below.

This is a short, seven minute message made by Pope Francis on Christian Unity spoke to the members of a Pentecostal Conference. But there is more to it than this. If you watch the whole video, apparently the Catholic Church has seen the need for a couple of decades now to revitalize their church by supporting the Charismatic Movement.

On the same day I found this video, I also got a longer version of it sent to me from the same conference. It was pretty cool how that happened. Something like that just does not happen every day. What I found so phenomenal about this was the back story given as to how Pope Francis even came to address this meeting.

That video is about 45 minutes long and well worth watching but if you don’t, here is the synopsis. Apparently Pope Francis is a Charismatic Christian. He chose the name Francis when he became pope because Saint Francis of Assisi was openly charismatic.

Copeland introduced someone he mentored years ago, Bishop Tony Bishop Palmer, who is now a bishop in the Anglican church. Palmer has been working with the past three popes for Charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church.

Bishop Palmer lived in S. Africa for years then was led by the Spirit to go to Rome to assist with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal at the request of the Vatican. When I watched this I thought, “Wow, the Vatican asked a Protestant for help!” Palmer also was in Argentina for a time and had become good friends with the priest there, the priest who would eventually become Pope Francis. It was because of this friendship that the pope called Bishop Palmer a little while after he was put into office. He asked Palmer to meet with him at the Vatican.  When Pope Francis heard Palmer was going to attend the K. Copeland leadership conference, he asked if he could videotape a message for the group of leaders. Here is the longer video.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B96TpbhG4vOhS1dOMU54SllMMFE/edit

Hint: There are four minutes in the beginning of this video with the conference leader, Kenneth Copeland, speaking and leading prayer, so you may want to advance ahead. This was a conference with thousands of leaders from very large Evangelical but also Pentecostal/Charismatic churches in the US.

If you liked this article, you may also like this one, “How God is Exploding Among Latinos” from Charisma Magazine.

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Published on The Spotless Bride Blog, a blog with the mission to “Heal the wounded heart of disunity & immaturity in the Church.” Please include this blurb if you share this information so that we might encourage those who want to promote Christian unity. To support Christian unity please comment, like, follow and share this blog! The book written under direction of the Holy Spirit to help heal those wounds in an accelerated time frame is Accelerated Transformation: Maturity, Intimacy, and Unity through Emotional Healing by Tracey Nelson, M.Ed. Thank you and God bless!

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© Tracey Nelson, M.Ed.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by The Spotless Bride Ministries.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Tracey Nelson, M.Ed., author Accelerated Transformation , © Oct. 3, 2014 Website: The Spotless Bride Blog; (Some images, songs, & videos not owned by author).

Note to Readers

January 21, 2014

Blogging TagsABOUT ARTICLES – This blog has a lot more articles than I will have featured at any single point in time simply because I like to feature a different set of articles from time to time.

ABOUT COMMENTS – It would be lovely and really helpful to hear from you when you drop by. It assists me to know what articles are striking a chord with my readers. Especially useful would be to know the reason why or why not.

Many thanks to you in advance! Tracey

Global Transformation through Unity and Prayer

January 7, 2014

a-week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity

The annual week to pray specifically for Christian Unity has arrived again. It is taking place this year (2014) between January 18th and 25th. These dates have symbolic significance because they were between the Feasts of St. Peter and St. Paul.

The theme this year is “Has Christ been Divided?” taken from 1 Corinthians 1:13.

This event is put on every year by the Catholic Church through its Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Many denominations participate including nondenominational, evangelical fundamental, and mainline churches.

You may want to go to the council’s page to learn how, in 1999, the main issue dividing Protestants and Catholics during the Protestant Reformation was all but resolved. You can find that document entitled, the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification here:

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html

There are some within the reformed traditions that still do not feel that grace over works is as complete in this document as they would like to see it spelled out. I don’t believe they have joined in the discussion, however.

In light of that fact, please allow me some latitude if I say something rather frank. While many Protestants may not yet want to join in these discussions on unity due to their inherent distrust of the Catholic Church, sometimes you wonder if there is something more to it than that.

Yes. It is true that once the Bible became available in the local language and our Protestant ancestors finally got to read what it actually said about salvation, they were burned at the stake or driven out of their Catholic congregations and countries for simply acting on their consciences. So, sure, the prejudice that was justified at that time. They learned their lesson well. As a matter of fact, we wouldn’t have public education in this country if it were not for their diligence to teach people to read the Bible in their effort to insure them against such deception again. However, holding these offenses against this present day church would be like the Native Americans blaming all white people and this present government for what happened to their ancestors.

Prejudice is never easy to over come, no matter how justified it was. But the Catholic Church has made many strides over the past century particularly within the last fifty years or so to build up that trust again. So one wonders if those not willing to engage in these discussions towards unity are simply because they enjoyed holding the moral high ground against their enemy? Some people don’t know how to disengage from the struggle, do they? We need to pray for God to heal their hearts and open their eyes.

Coming from Pilgrim ancestors and marrying into a Catholic family who rejected me when the Holy Spirit had me act according to my conscience, I will always remain prayerfully vigilant, ever educated, and watchful for all signs of deception. So I am even more surprised by this call by the Holy Spirit upon my heart towards unity as anyone.

Not only that, but He has actually given me a hunger for the Eucharist and Catholic television! I feel the need to learn more and all I can do is obey the Spirit’s leading to find out why. Of course the Eucharist is the very symbol of Christian unity and purity, so I do understand that. And the Catholic Church understands the Bride of Christ symbolism and did not buy into the Cessationist doctrine. So I do feel a kinship there. But I can’t help but feel the heart of God bleeding for the children who think they cannot have as close of a relationship to God as their priest can. He longs to break them free of that bondage and isolation.

Nevertheless, I am learning that the doctrines are not as off as I thought they once were. Would I pray to saints or Mary? No. I still feel that Jesus should not have any attention drawn from Him nor any mediator between us and our Father but Christ. However, I do enjoy hearing about how the “saints” coped in their walks with God. I love the history and being attached to a church that was once so predominant. But do I fault them for praying to the saints and Mary. Not really. Not any more. If they were here, you could ask them to pray for you. So why should that stop in heaven? But I don’t need that. I believe that sort of thinking keeps people bound to a defeated sense of self, like they are weak and so unworthy of their Father’s undivided attention, rather than helping them to rise up to be the kings and priests they were destined to be.

So, I will always differ with the Catholics on those things. But that’s okay. I am not better than them and I fully expect them to teach me more on their rich perspective as time goes on.

You can learn more about the Pope’s council on unity here:

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/

To find out more about the activities and how to pray specifically check this page out:

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/weeks-prayer-doc/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20130528_week-prayer-2014_en.html

Keep in mind that you are not restricted to only celebrate and pray on these dates. As a matter of fact, the desire is that prayer and meditation as well as action towards Christian unity be advanced in everyone’s lives throughout the year.

God bless!

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© Tracey Nelson, M.Ed.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by The Spotless Bride Ministries.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Tracey Nelson, M.Ed., author Accelerated Transformation , © Oct. 3, 2014 Website: The Spotless Bride Blog; (Some images, songs, & videos not owned by author).

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