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Helly Luv’s “Revolution:” When it’s Okay to Fight

June 19, 2015

Hellyluv Revolution - Stand up we are United2

Western-raised Middle Eastern singer, Helan Abdulla, whose artist persona is called Helly Luv, has released a powerful video called “Revolution” where she sounds the rally cry for people to fight against the evils of the terrorist group, ISIS.
Hellyluv Revolution - United We're Marching There 2

Despite our desire to see that our troops get to stay home to never return to the scenes of conflict in the Middle East, the dynamics of what was going on when we originally went to war and what is going on today are totally different. We aren’t deposing an evil despot for the sake of oil anymore. We are finally facing the very threat we thought we were going to war to fight in the first place; terrorism. And where are our troops? Back home.

After witnessing so many public beheadings committed by ISIS against westerners and Christians, good people cannot help but want to fight.

british

British citizen who went to the Middle East to help Muslim victims of war is shown here just before his public beheading by ISIS.

In fact, many Americans, like the ones shown in the photo, below, along with other westerners are so offended at these atrocities that they have spent their own money to join in the fight against ISIS. Who are they joining? The Kurdish Peshmerga, the primary army now fighting these terrorists.

Westerners Join Peshmerga 3 - no text

American’s join Kurdish Peshmerga in the fight against the darkness of ISIS.

So, why would the author of a blog dedicated to peace and unity be writing an article about fighting darkness and injustice while featuring a secular pop music artist? This video caught my eye because Abdulla appears to be calling for people of all religions to unite in this fight against evil.

Or is she?

There are a few scenes in this video when Abdulla seems to be sending a mixed message encouraging both peace and war. Are there times when it is okay to do both?

Any form of unity and the desire to maintain peace in our communities and relationships can be equally confusing at times. How does a Christian, for example, strike a balance between adhering to the truth while walking in unity amidst so much religious diversity?

This critique of Helly Luv’s compelling video will provide the perfect opportunity to discuss that very thing. I will make comparisons with the conflict in the Middle East with the basic struggle we all face as human beings and as Christians as we try to walk in loving unity with mankind while also trying to adhere to our principles and ideas of truth.

unity truth

WHO IS HELLY LUV AND WHAT IS SHE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH?

Abdulla is a Kurd born in the Kurdistanian region of Iran. Her family would escape Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror and end up living in Finland where she was raised.

In this music video Abdulla uses song lyrics, driving rhythms, and many powerful images to communicate an important message to the world calling for all to unite against ISIS. One example of this injustice from her video is depicted here in this image of a mother cradling her dead child.

Hellyluv - Revolution Devastation

This video has a lot of powerful symbolism, such as that which is represented in Abdulla’s bold attire. Could this be meant to fly in the face of some of the values that radical Islam promotes, particularly those held against women? Or is this a part of Abdulla’s own brand of Islam? Maybe she has no religion at all. Like all art, this will be left to the interpretation of the viewer.

In this first image, below, Abdulla appears on the scene after what was once a peaceful day in a village has been shattered by an attack by ISIS. To get her message across, she uses the imagery of golden high heels, heels that are higher than your average heels, along with a gold ankle bracelet. In this scene, she can be seen walking against the fleeing crowd.

Hellyluv - Revolution Gold Shoe

The sound of clanging metal can be heard as she puts her first step forward. This may depict the strength of taking that first, all-important step against such an enemy. Without the first step of good people standing against tyranny, eveil cannot be defeated. Or maybe it just represents her own resolve to stand up against such evil.

We all know that gold represents value; the monetary value we place on things. Does this speak of the value we should place upon this message? Or is she trying to tell us that ISIS is threatening our most important human values? Consequently, we should take some sort of action and join her in taking that all important first step.

Gold also depicts royalty and wealth. One can clearly see here that Abdulla must put some value in herself. But then again, as we would come to discover, she isn’t just another burka-wearing Muslim with something naughty hidden underneath in a statement of defiance.

The next clue in our introduction of this singer is when the camera shows Abdulla wearing a veil or scarf while walking against the crowd towards the incoming tanks.

Hellyluv -Revolution AppearanceAgain, we are provided further proof that if the woman in the video is a Muslim, she is not as conservative as other Muslim women we see in the Middle East because she has on a shiny belt. But once we get to see her face for the first time we notice that something else is very, very different about this woman because she is wearing heavy eye makeup and a headband of gold with a black bandanna sporting what looks like skulls on it.

Hellyluv - Revolution Birds

The additional imagery of the dark colored doves flying close around her periphery sends yet another message to us that appears spiritual in nature; possibly meant to provide greater significance to her cause. But these doves are not pure white. White doves generally represent peace or the spirit of God. These are grey and white, could this be a foreshadow of what eventually seems like a mixed message… a message of attaining peace through war?

Then as Abdulla reaches down to reveal that she is holding a banner, you can see, below, that she is also wearing a gold machine-gun ring on her right hand and golden bullets for bracelets.  Note the long, red, fingernails and all the ornamentation or henna that is tattooed onto her left hand. Could this be representing her ethnicity, her value of herself, or even her liberty as a woman? Or is it just a way to call attention to her hands; hands that are actively doing something about this injustice?

This is also really the first time we have any clue to her message. She seems to have a militant purpose here.

Hellyluv -Revolution Bracelets

That is when she confuses us.

Hellyluv - Revolution Sign Stop Violence

We think to ourselves, “Well, yes, dear. That is an awesome message but aren’t you also wearing bullets and machine guns?!? Make up your mind!” So this compels us to watch further to see what Abdulla’s real purpose is here.

Next, Abdulla uncovers the symbol of her oppression. She removes the veil covering her head and face to reveal an audacious head-full of bright red hair! Red is a color that represents love as well as action, determination, fire, passion, severity and blood. As we listen to the lyrics and watch the rest of the images in this video, each of these are a part of her message. So she couldn’t have chosen a better color. Here, we also get another close up of Abdulla’s militant jewelry.

Hellyluv - Revolution Red Hair Exposed

In this blog we talk about how people use cover ups to mask their feelings of inadequacy. These inadequacies of the soul are created by our social connections. They are caused by wounds of rejection, abuse, neglect, humiliation, and shame.

The cover up chosen really doesn’t matter (e.g., a prestigious job title, high rank, money, social position, beauty, material possessions, or religion…). It will be different for each individual. This usually depends on what the community that the individual wants acceptance from values.

In the Muslim religion, for example, cover ups for women are referred to as hijabs. These are meant to represent modesty. This is a great value to have. But in reality, it is really a way for the society to diminish the value and rights of women with respect to men who, as you will note, do not use anything to physically cover themselves up for the sake of modesty. Veils actually repress a woman’s individuality and her identity which Abdulla also appears to be expressing here with the color of her hair. What’s more, she is insulting the values of her enemy; ISIS.

This next picture shows Abdulla as she, once again, stands resolute in her cause for peace and liberty. Our next clue proves to us that she isn’t just a peace-loving hippie placing her body in between the tank and the terrified citizens of this village when she raises a finger in defiance and strength against this heavy artillery. It is as if she is saying, “If a woman can do this boys, surely you can get your guns and join the fight with me.” And apparently there is some need for that message to get communicated. We constantly hear reports in the news of Iraqi soldiers running away from the battle and not standing up to fight against this oppressive enemy. As a matter of fact, it is the Kurdish Peshmerga (which include female soldiers) that is depicted in this video that seems to be fighting their battles for them.

Hellyluv Revolution - Stand up we are United

In this next scene we see Helan Abdulla waving a flag that many in the West will not recognize. It is the Kurdish flag.

Hellyluv Revolution - United We're Marching There

This flag came into being during Kurdistan’s bid for independence against the Ottoman Empire. For those of you not up on this important bit of history, that is basically the empire that ISIS is trying to resurrect. You have probably heard this word caliphate used a lot lately in the news, right? Well, the Ottoman Empire was a Muslim caliphate that had been in existence since the latter half of the Middle Ages until it was dissolved in 1922 just after WWI.

Flag_of_Kurdistan.svg

It should be known that the Kurds are an ethnic group without a country. They make up 10-18 percent of the people in Iran, Syria, Turkey, and Iraq. They have been fighting for independence for about a century now. They have no desire to see a radical Muslim caliphate in place.

The largest number of Kurds live in the autonomous Kurdistan region of Iran. But the flag Abdulla is waving and that all Kurdish soldiers wear on their uniforms, is banned in Iran as well as Turkey and Syria because what it represents (freedom and liberty).

Once again, we see Helly Luv standing up on a tank, below, with a group of females and the Peshmerga army rallying people to stand up and fight.

Hellyluv Revolution - United We're Marching There 3

Nevertheless, there are also many messages in this video that seem confusing, with people taking up banners in hand with words printed on them such as “Stop War,” “No More Genocide,” and “Peace,” juxtaposed against the fighting and military propaganda.

Helly Luv Revolution - Different Religions

We even see scenes with people from multiple religions coming together to call for peace.

Helly Luv Revolution - Different Religions

Signs with every religion depicted are seen below.

Helly Luv Revolution - All Religions 2

Abdulla is seen here praying as she sings this lyric, “Brothers and sisters we all come from one. Different religions we share the same love.”

So what is she really trying to say here? Fight with banners or guns?

Helly Luv Revolution - Different Religions 3

Many people in the Christian faith may get upset with this because there seems to be a movement towards having one world religion. This is the religion that the Antichrist is supposed to endorse and lead.

Nevertheless, the reasoning in Abdulla’s song is sound. We all love, so why do we fight? It only hurts those we love in the end.

This may, indeed, end up being the rally cry that wins the day towards the formation of a one-world government and religion, as prophesied. After all, weren’t we told that if it were possible, even the elect might be deceived in the end? Maybe that is because uniting around the principle of love doesn’t seem to be such a bad thing. This would provide the perfect vehicle to rally everyone behind the Antichrist in his satanic agenda.

It appears, at least on the surface, that the pope is also trying to do the same thing. In his quest for peace he is seeking unity with the Muslims and other religions who are not remotely in agreement with his own faith. Below you can see one such gathering with, for example, the Hindus, Buddhists, and Atheists.

Pope Francis Unity and One World Religion

The pope’s reasons are likely the same logical, rational reasons that Abdulla is also using to call for unity; to stop fighting over religion. Much the same message of my own blog, with one exception. While I do call for unity, that doesn’t mean there aren’t times when we must bring our differences forward for discussion. We must learn to fight peacefully for the cause of truth.

Unity does not mean we have arrived at a consensus and agree with one another. Unity means rather than choosing to fight, we admit that we agree on most things. But we are secure enough in ourselves to accept the diversity that exists in others while striving to discuss our differences until we arrive at the truth. But will any of us accept the differences between us and a radical terrorist? Never! And no one should ever accept any form of injustice or darkness.

While we all want to think of ourselves as broad minded and accepting of multicultural people groups rather than being seen as prejudice, there are definitely times when we must exercise extreme prejudice against evil. And I think this is the message Helly Luv is promoting; peace through unity in war. She seems to calling the global community to take notice of the conflict and to throw their support and military might to fight this regime of terrorists. You can see her, below, waving us on, to come join her.

Helly Luv Revolution - Don't be Scared

The lyrics confirm this call to arms through the words, “People all around the world, around the world, don’t be scared. Come together let ’em know, let ’em know we’re right here. We’re marching… we’re marching there. United, united we’re marching there.”

Hellyluv Revolution - It's a Revolution Nations United - no text

This message becomes clear at the end of her video when the main character, a soldier who was fighting gets knocked off his feet by an explosion.

Helly Luv Revolution - Man being Blown Up

The soldier gets up just as Abdulla’s character in this drama, also a soldier, has rescued a defenseless baby in her arms.

Helly Luv Revolution - Rescuing a Helpless Family 2

The male soldier is then seen with a rocket launcher in his hands.

Hellyluv Revolution - Guy with a rocket launcher - no text

The rocket gets a successful hit on the tank that came to town to terrorize the people.

Hellyluv Revolution - Rocket launched tank exploding

Immediately after the explosion, you see Abdulla, who was just beyond the tank with the rescued baby in her arms cheering along with the rest of the fighters at this successful hit leaving no doubt, whatsoever, that Abdulla is standing behind her people, the Kurdish Peshmerga, in their fight against this evil.

Helly Luv Revolution - Abdulla after tank is destroyed - no text

Why is the nations of the world being so complacent? ISIS means to take over the world. This is why many westerners from America, Canada, Europe and other nations are taking matters into their own hands to join up with the Peshmerga to fight against this oppressive regime. They recognize the danger. These volunteers often bring their own guns because there is no money being sent to the Peshmerga arm them. Take a look at the flags this American is wearing on his uniform.

Westerners Join Peshmerga

ISIS isn’t a small band of terrorists. It is a well-oiled and well-funded fighting machine with what seems to some like really cool uniforms. Their self-righteous campaign of violence speaks volumes to the disenfranchised video game-playing youth everywhere; youths who would glory in such gun-brandishing, knife wielding threats. This can be seen in the photo below of these teens who brought guns to Columbine High School to commit the mass murder of their classmates and teachers.

Columbine_Shooting_Security_Camera

Disenfranchised youths in the lunch room of Columbine High School where mass murders took place at their hands.

People who are wounded, fearful, and frustrated often want to gain a sense of control over their lives in some way… and what better way for some angry young men to feel justified about their anger than to join a gun-toting terrorist group like ISIS. Muslim parents beware! Keep a close eye on your kids!

Now let me briefly share the other message besides unity that I also promote on this blog, the importance of healing the heart.

jesus-with-kids-god-the-father-has-transformed-my-heart-by-his-precious-holy-spirit-301731

Bitterness is the fertile soil of revenge and war. It causes illness, discord, and disunity. It ruins marriages, leads to crime, and promotes a blindness that comes from narcissism. We all get hurt from time to time. And most of us have suffered from injustice. So what would the world be like if we all took our revenge out on someone? You are absolutely right, like a Middle Eastern war zone. This is why the message of Jesus Christ is so important for today.

Jesus taught humanity the importance of forgiving from the heart. A heart that cannot forgive is hard and full of pride. Walls around our hearts promote distances in relationships making it harder for peaceful negotiations to occur.

stony_heart-rYou see, no matter how much we say we forgive, a heart cannot forgive until the wounds of offense, abuse, neglect, and need are addressed through healing… and only Jesus can fully heal broken hearts. Most Muslims would not be opposed to this message because they have a certain respect for Jesus, that differs from that of Christians, but He holds an important place in the Muslim faith and an honorable place in others. So, why not learn more about this possibility.

F4Bborn_again_heart

While it is true that we may all eventually get to feeling better as time goes on after we are wounded, few people realize that the damage done to our souls is just buried under other distractions until we forget the offense… that is, until it raises its ugly head in some other destructive or enslaving form. So, why don’t you search this blog further to learn more about how Jesus can heal? Also, you may want to go to my new blog as well: http://jesushealsbrokenhearts.wordpress.com.

Blessings!

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Photo credits:

1) Photos of Hella Luv’s video:

Abdulla, Helan. (2015). “Revolution.” Vevo Music Video. Retrieved on June 18, 2015 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLMtTQsiW6I

2) Photo of Pope Francis with religious leaders:

Schjonberg, M. (2015 March 20). “Faith leaders unite with business leaders to end scourge of slavery.” Retrieved June 18, 2015 from http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2015/03/20/faith-leaders-unite-with-business-leaders-to-end-scourge-of-slavery

3) Photos of western fighters joining Kurdish Peshmerga:

I got this from a YouTube video, as follows…

Hiwa Marko Youtube Channel (2015). “American Peshmerga volunteers on the front lines against ISIS – Kirkuk 20.5.2015 English-Kurdish.” Retrieved on June 18, 2015 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3XxC9CU1gg

4) Other photos:

Unknown original owner, found online.

All written content © Tracey Nelson, M.Ed. Photos belong to their respective owners as credited above.

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 previous and following statements 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. The author is simply providing you with helpful information as a pastoral counselor with Master’s degrees in adult education and conflict negotiation and mediation.

Mind Blowing Certainty of Christ’s Imminent Return

April 15, 2015

Have you ever had your mind blown before? You are about to have your mind blown not once but several times after reading this article (please “like,” comment, subscribe, and share).

Most everyone agrees that we have reached the end of the end times. You don’t have to be a Christian or a Jew to recognize this. Even unbelievers around the world can sense it. Why else would there be all of the talk of doomsday in recent years?

The Certainty of Christ’s Imminent Return

Mind Blower Number One. The reason we can be certain that we have reached “the end of the end” is because the Bible assures us that we would know that we had finally arrived at that point in time after Israel had been restored to nationhood. The mere fact that we have reached this point after it being predicted in the Bible (in multiple places by several prophets) is a mind blower.

I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. (Ezekiel 37:21-27, written between 595-565 B.C.)

News - Rebirth of Nation of Israel

Mind Blower Number Two. For those of you wanting evidence that God exists and that the Bible is, indeed, God’s Word and that the Christians and Jews are His chosen people, take a look at this. Grant R. Jeffrey, in his book, Prince of Darkness, lists 38 predictions that have been fulfilled. Jeffrey calculates the odds of just six of these predictions being fulfilled as 1 in 15.6 billion. But the odds of all 38 being fulfilled is beyond comprehension. Dr. Chuck Missler said that there are not enough atoms in the entire universe to represent this number. Nevertheless, hundreds of prophecies in the Bible have been fulfilled with remarkable accuracy.

Raising_the_flag_in_Eilat_1948Yet, it would be this single event, the rebirth of Israel as a nation, that would give credence to the notion that ours will be the generation to see the Lord’s return. (In 2014, a person born in 1948 is age 66, so it can’t be much longer!)

Mind Blower Number Three. In 1945, after the second world war, a remnant of holocaust survivors and persecuted Jews who had all suffered from antisemitism streamed back into their ancient homeland, Palestine, by the tens of thousands including Jews from over 100 nations.

This is God at His best and the devil at his worst playing their final game of cards together. Good and evil were joined at the hip upon the world stage once again. At this particular juncture in human history; the enemy of our souls and former god of this world had just tried to wipe out the keeper of God’s Word, the Jews, the Father’s Chosen People and Wife. The devil did all of this with the eyes of the world watching on television. Little do most people realize, that a group of Islamic leaders were working behind the scenes supporting Hitler’s extermination of the Jews. Nevertheless, God was about to put Satan, Hitler, and these Muslims in their place!

There are so many mind blowers here that I can’t even count them! Here are just a few:

  • Number Four – The mere fact that these beaten and bruised people hadn’t given up after having all of their property and loved ones ripped out from under them in such a horrendous fashion is truly amazing. That they even had any strength to start over again is remarkable, let alone fight and win a war. I don’t know about you, but the visions that come to mind here are of emaciated bodies with skin stretched over bone, not fearless soldiers; albeit they had recovered to some degree. But can you imagine the post traumatic stress they must have suffered? God must have given them supernatural strength to accomplish such a feat.
  • Number Five – Also mind blowing is the fact that Palestine would be opened up to the Jews during this precise timing, along with all of its history (very much worth studying, I will add a link later to help you learn more about the rebirth of Israel as a nation).
  • Number Six – But the most amazing fact of all was how the Jews won their independence despite being severely outnumbered by seven well-equipped Arab nations having only a handful of tanks, armored cars and bombers that were sold to them from leftovers marked as scrap metal. Many soldiers from both sides of the conflict testified to incredible miracles out in the field of battle that helped the Jews win.

As recently as July 2014 when soldiers of Israel’s enemy, Hamas, tried to defend their poor aim when providing the reason for their rockets missing their intended targets in Israel, they said this was the fault of “their God”[1] (i.e., the Jews’ God). The Jewish Telegraph also quoted David Ben Gurion, who said, “In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.”[2] This has been true of all of Israel’s historic battles documented throughout the Bible.

Israel-Gaza-Hamas-God-changes-their-path-in-mid-air

Mind Blower Number Seven – Regardless of the endless battle that has ensued against Israel ever since, they managed to take a desolate desert with unusable land and turn it into a land flowing with milk and honey. For example, they not only provide 70-95% of the food for their own nation, making their nation self-sufficient from outside sources, they are one of the world’s top exporters of citrus fruit and vegetables. Despite having been a desert for nearly two thousand years, their fruitfulness during the end times was predicted in the Bible. God’s hand is definitely upon Israel!

Vineyards in Israel's Negev Desert

Vineyards in Israel’s Negev Desert

Israel's Fruitfulness“And you, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel, and say, ‘O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God: “Because the enemy has said of you, ‘Aha! The ancient heights have become our possession,'” therefore prophesy, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Because they made you desolate and swallowed you up on every side… therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God!

Israel Farm“…I have raised My hand in an oath that surely the nations that are around you shall bear their own shame. But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come.For indeed I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. I will make you inhabited as in former times, and do better for you than at your beginnings. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. (Ezekiel 36:1-4, 7-9)

On October 5, 1998, fifty years after this prophecy became a reality, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Feast of the Tabernacles Conference (International Christian Embassy) said, “….I can tell you that for the first time in the history of the Jewish people since the Second Temple period, in the next decade and a half the majority of the Jewish people will live in the Jewish land. If this is not the materialization of prophecy, then nothing is.

Parallels Found in the Church

When something major happens with regard to the end times in Israel, there are parallels within the Church; Christ’s Bride. These parallels between the Christ’s Church and the nation of Israel are well known and seen throughout Scripture as well. Interestingly, during the year Israel was officially made a state, 1948, this was also the year that two other major, mind-blowing events happened; each of which would signal the final days of the end.

First Significant Event

Mind Blowing Event Number Eight. In the year that Israel won the war of independence, 1949, the first of a rare blood moon tetrad (4 lunar eclipses) was punctuated by a solar eclipse. Why would this be significant? We are told in Genesis 1:14 that the sun, moon, and stars were created with more than one purpose. Besides providing light and a way to understand the seasons, they were created as a communication device; to provide the world with signs from God.

signseye of god

More proof for this interpretation came from Jesus, Himself. Jesus did not leave us in the dark as to the timing of His return. He said before His return there would be many indicators. One of those indicators would be that the moon would turn to blood and the sun would be darkened. But this happens every so many months. So why would Jesus mention such a common occurrence as an indicator of His return? Because He knew His people would recognize the rare appearance of a blood moon tetrad as a sign from God after it appeared in the sky during such a momentous prophetic event as the reformation of ancient Israel into a nation.

A tetrad such as this has four lunar eclipses and usually one solar eclipse or other partial eclipses within a short period of time (generally 18 months).

bloodmooninjerusalem

Mind Blowing Event Number Nine. For this to happen when Israel became a nation would have been quite enough to announce to the world that we had entered into the generation that would see Christ’s return. But for these eclipses to simultaneously occur on Jewish holy days is even more staggering. For such a “coincidence” to occur, exactly as the Bible predicted, concurrently with the impossible miracle of such an ancient people group returning to nationhood after two millennia, is quite astonishing, statistically speaking. But wait, there is more… much, much more!

1948-1949-Jewish-Tetrad-Eclipses

Mind Blowing Even Number Ten. These were not just any holy days. The four blood moons fell on feast days which specifically point to Jesus’ various appearances upon the Earth!

Jesus’ first appearance on Earth took place when He became the Passover Lamb. Some would call this a type and shadow pointing to the identity of Jesus centuries before His birth. So He may not have been there in the flesh, but the blood of the lamb which was to be spread on each door to signal to the death angel to “pass over” that home was meant to represent the coming Savior of the World, our Messiah, Jesus.

AHMOSES DEFEATING THE HYKSOS

Ancient Egyptian wall art showing Ahmose defeating the Hyksos (assumed to be the Semitic people called the Jews). This is believed to be a depiction of the Jews escape from slavery through the Red Sea. Of course, the pharaoh would be expected to skew the story to glorify him.

The feast of Passover, a lengthy celebration, represents a time was when the Jews were slaves in Egypt. This holiday originated from the events that transpired during the Hebrew Exodus when God was freeing them from slavery through the leadership of Moses. All of this happened just before Israel would become a nation for the very first time. Do you see the correlation to the blood moons landing on the Passover feast the very year the Jews would also win their War of Independence? Independence is another word for freedom.

In subsequent years, each time the Jews were disobedient and worshiped other gods, they ended up being defeated by their enemies. If they did not repent, they were scattered to the four winds or enslaved, ultimately with Israel losing nationhood in the process. This more severe form of punishment happened two time. Nevertheless, God was always faithful, and they’d end up coming back home again, set free from horrendous circumstances and suffering; like they were during their first Passover when they were set free from Egyptian slavery. The Jews have followed this prophetic pattern over and over again throughout history. Their return to nationhood in 1948 is to be the last.

That is why nothing, absolutely nothing, would speak as clearly to the Jewish people than seeing two blood moons fall on this, of all holidays (Passover) during the very year they won their War of Independence (if only someone had pointed it out to them then). They had just completed their latest exodus from the Nazi holocaust that left them without a home to call their own.

During the Passover season in which Jesus would become the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world was to be the culmination of Israel’s ultimate purpose on Earth; to give birth to the Messiah. Through Moses, God would set up the religious structure which would help the world recognize Him. Anyone studying the Mosaic Law, the Temple ceremonies, and other aspects of Jewish culture including the lives of the Patriarchs, the history of this nation, and the prophecies would recognize Him immediately. Yet the enemy works so hard to blind us to these Truths that the few religious leaders in Jesus’ day did. Instead they crucified their own, long awaited Messiah.

This last Passover celebration in which Christ would fill the cup of the marriage covenant with His own Blood was to be the fulfillment of thousands of years of prophecy and a promise to take care of His Bride, the Church. The prophetic portion of the Passover dinner predicted the arrival of the Messiah on Earth through unleavened bread; bread that is traditionally made with piercings like His hands, feet, side, and head were and stripes like Jesus was by the cat of nine tails the Roman soldiers used to turn His back into mince meat. During the Passover Supper, this bread is then hidden away in a white cloth for the children to find later. This represented Jesus burial in white linens and His resurrection to make us all born again.

What  I am about to tell you includes many mind-blowing events. But I am going to keep all of this as mind blowing event number nine for now; since it has to do with the blood moon falling upon Passover. Nevertheless, lets count the individual bullet points within this single event:

  1. The bread in the Passover Feast was unleavened, that means there was an absence of yeast or sin. Yeast in the Bible represented sin during this feast (yeast puffs people up in pride).
  2. The piercing and stripes on the bread represented how the coming Messiah would suffer; first with a whip then with the piercings caused by the nails, spear, and crown of thorns.
  3. The white cloth represented Jesus’ burial cloth.
  4. Hiding the bread away represented His death.
  5. And the fact that the children retrieved Him represented the following:
    1. His resurrection
    2. How those who would later “find” Jesus’ and these truths about Him; then believed in Him, taking Him into their heart (eating Him; the unleavened bread) woul become new creatures and made into God’s children.
    3. Of course, all of this was predicted thousands of years earlier when Moses led the Hebrew slaves into their Promised Land.
    4. During His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus, like Moses, delivered humanity out of emotional, mental, spiritual and physical slavery.
    5. Jesus wasn’t just the deliverer; but He was also the Passover Lamb whose precious Blood would signal to the death angel to spare God’s children an eternity spent in hell.

Wow, count them. That is eleven more mind-blowing facts!

Mind Blowing Event Number Twenty-Two. The second Feast, the Feast of Tabernacles will likely have just as many mind-blowing facts as the Passover did. But the most significant thing I want to point out about the feasts is that there are seven of them in totality; four in the spring and three in the fall. The four in the spring were already fulfilled by Jesus in the New Testament. There are three in the fall that remain to be fulfilled when Jesus returns, first for His Bride during the rapture when the “final trump” is blown. The belief is that this may happen during the Feast of Trumpets. The other two happen when Jesus comes back and sets up His reign on Earth for 1,000 years. The two blood moons that happened the year Israel won Her War of Independence happened during the Feast of Tabernacles when Jesus was to set up His final kingdom on Earth. So this has already been partially fulfilled, as follows:

I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.  (Ezekiel 37:21-27)

Mind Blowing Event Number Twenty-Three. A parallel landmark event for the Church, which is considered spiritual Israel, or the children of faith through Abraham. During the late 1940’s, God accompanied the establishment of the nation of Israel with a corresponding outpouring of His Holy Spirit upon the Church. This brought a revival to the world. This, too, was predicted in the Bible:

“When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezekiel 39:27-29)

Of course there will be a similar outpouring upon literal Israel, as well. And there has been a great awakening of Jews in recent years.

Following World War II, Billy Graham led an international evangelical awakening to get people saved. He also emphasized the importance of discipleship. And others such as Oral Roberts, Kenneth E. Hagin, Jr., and Jack Coe along with William Branham led a global healing movement during this period surrounding the blood moons and the rebirth of the nation of Israel. But the one major ministry already planted in Israel at that time of Israel’s return to statehood was Derek Prince, a British scholar from Oxford who’d ended up there as a soldier. Prince (an appropriate name, don’t you think?) would come to lead a world-wide movement teaching people about how to get set free from demonic deliverance. Many of these evangelists were reported to have also raised the dead. So there you have it; the five parts of the Great Commission of Jesus:

  • Make disciples (Matthew 28:18);
  • Teach commandments (Matthew 28:18);
  • Heal sick/cleanse leper (Matthew 10:7);
  • Raise Dead (Matthew 10:7);
  • Cast out demons (Matthew 10:7).

And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. (Matthew 10:7)

In each of these cases, new knowledge about the Kingdom of Heaven exploded onto the scene. A different focus came to Christianity teaching the children of God how they, too, were expected to do the same works as Jesus. The newest technologies; the radio, television, and audio tape multiplied the understanding imparted to these anointed teachers how to execute a walk like Jesus and sent their messages to the darkest corners of the Earth. This will continue for decades even after their deaths. A fulfillment of this calling, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18).

All that I have shared here about the Church would signal the end times because Scripture teaches us that once the Gospel has been preached around the earth, Jesus will return, as follows: “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).

This movement is often referred to as the Latter Rain Movement and the Manifest Son’s of God Movement; both of which I will commence to explain because they are often misunderstood due to some of the error that was perpetuated by earlier manifestations of these movements.

It is important that you understand what these phrases mean. “Latter rain” is a phrase that was referred to in the passage of Scripture referenced by the Apostle Peter during Pentecost. He used it to explain the phenomenon of tongues and the fire that had fallen down on the apostles to empower them with the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised this empowerment would last until the Gospel was preached to the ends of the earth, as follows, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) So, despite Cessationist teaching, this power of God upon mortal men would endure and not end once the Bible came into being

Apostle Peter referred to this outpouring of the Holy Spirit as the fulfillment of what was spoken of in Joel 2. But there are two harvests to be brought in. These come as the result of two different types of rain; the former rain and the latter rain. The first outpouring of the Holy Spirit (the Holy Spirit is often referred to in the Bible as water, rain, a river, oil, fire, honey, or wine), got the Church started. But the much more abundant latter rain will end the Church Age and bring in the greater, end times harvest.

If the verses in Joel 2 referred to only one Pentecost, it would not have verses depicting the following timing: a) The final establishment of Israel as a nation; and b) The great and dreadful day of the Lord, as follows.

Joel 2:24-25, 27, 28-32

The threshing floors shall be full of wheat,
And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.

25 “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.
27 Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel:
I am the Lord your God
And there is no other.
My people shall never be put to shame.

God’s Spirit Poured Out

28 “And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My men servants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
32 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the Lord has said,
Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.

The Bible speaks of this maturity in several places referring to  God will have mature sons.

Before Christ’s return He will have a pure and spotless bride.

But let me add one more…

Mind Blowing Event Number Twelve. This mind blowing event involves how this blood moon tetrad also occurred when another prophecy was fulfilled during the Six Day War in 1967 when Israel won Jerusalem and the Gaza strip back from the Arabs. This was an important event as well because Jerusalem is a hugely significant city in biblical terms. It is also where the third and final Temple must be rebuilt. However, there is a mosque sitting upon the place where the Temple is supposed to be built. Nevertheless, the Temple Institute in Israel has everything in place to move in to the new Temple once it is. And some archaeologists believe it might not even need to go on the exact same spot where the mosque is.

Again, the Six Day War was won miraculously. And many events in the Church and the world would also correspond. In 1967 the Church would see the Charismatic movement which would bring the manifestation and gifts of the Holy Spirit into the mainline churches. What was once a movement among those that called themselves Pentecostals or other such “Full Gospel” groups would spread like wild fire and become the fastest growing segment of the Church worldwide bringing in 600 million new members.  New colleges teaching Christians how to walk in the power that Jesus did were set up during this period of time.

 Conclusion

There would be three times in history when Israel would be a nation. The first occurred after their exodus out of Egypt. The second when Israel returned to Palestine after they had been taken into exile. The third was in 1947-1948 when the Jews returned to Palestine and fought for their establishment as a state. Each of these corresponds with the first; escaping oppression and even slavery from an enemy. Each time there were so many miracles involved that the world could not deny that the hand of God was delivering them from this bondage.

The last one which corresponds with a blood moon tetrad is supposed to be our signal that this generation will see the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. And Scripture tells us just before His return a blood moon and solar eclipse event like the blood moon tetrad would signal “the great and terrible day of the Lord” (spoken of over nineteen times in Scripture).

It is very significant to mention that out of the eight blood moon tetrads that have happened since the birth of Christ (of this type that coincide with Jewish holidays), almost half of them have occurred since the rebirth of the nation of Israel! There have been three blood moon tetrads in under 70 years. Is that a sign? I think so. When will the next one come around? Not for another 600 years. So we can be fairly certain this is the one being referred to in Joel 2 before the great and terrible day of the Lord.

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1) Jewish Telegraph. (2014). “Israel Miracle? Gaza Strip Hamas Complain, ‘Their God Changes The Paths Of Our Rockets In Mid-Air.'” From http://www.inquisitr.com/1364461/israel-miracle-gaza-strip-hamas-complain-their-god-changes-the-paths-of-our-rockets-in-mid-air

2) Ibid.

© 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 previous and following statements 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. The author is simply providing you with helpful information as a pastoral counselor with Master’s degrees in adult education and conflict negotiation and mediation.

Shoot First and Take No Prisoners: When People Take Offense

April 12, 2015
Police Officer, Michael Slager shoots an unarmed suspect, Walter Scott, while he is fleeing the scene in Charleston, SC

Police Officer, Michael Slager shoots an unarmed suspect, Walter Scott, while he is fleeing the scene in Charleston, SC

One of the biggest things in the news lately is how Michael Slager shot an unarmed suspect, Walter Scott, as he was fleeing the scene of a traffic stop in Charleston, SC. The officer was caught on video using his authority to make the final judgment over another human being’s life. It appears, in a moment of weakness, spite, or misjudgment, this officer charged to protect and serve the public became judge, jury, and executioner in whatever way suited him at the moment. In other words, Slager did not adhere to the law nor did he follow basic human morals.

It is outrageous when such an abuse of power is perpetrated upon anyone, whether innocent or guilty. But many of us are guilty of doing exactly the same thing. How, you may ask?

bad-dayWe all have bad days. Times when we feel down, unappreciated, diminished, angry, stressed, or any number of other negative ways that make us want to take control and gain back some of our lost power. Such may have been the case in this officer’s life, too. It isn’t uncommon for men and women of the law to feel like they have just had enough.

Maybe Slager had become frustrated at never seeing any positive changes in the world despite his efforts. Maybe he felt totally unappreciated for putting his life on the line. He was probably even jaded from dealing with people who are of low character day in and day out. But that is no excuse, is it? He had a choice.

charlie-chaplin-you-need-power-only-when-you-want-to-do-something-harmful-otherwise-love-is-enough-to-get-everything-done

Fitting for my point though not an endorsement of Charlie Chaplin. (Notwithstanding power from the Lord and other technical forms of power or energy of course).

Nevertheless, I think all of us can relate to those feelings to some degree. We are all vulnerable taking matters into our own hands when we take offense with others. When we are having a bad day, we often feel the need to gain back some form of control in order to bring back the balance of power we have lost. So, maybe it will come as no surprise to hear that this is precisely the time when we are most likely going to abuse our power and authority over others.

Still, you may object to my claim that most of us are as guilty as Michael Slager is, sometimes on a daily basis. How can a people be guilty of the same crime, when they don’t carry around a gun?

Few of us realize that unarmed citizens have the same power to kill others as policemen do. They may not carry a gun or a knife, but people can kill through their angry, negative words and shaming, self-righteous acts. This is how human beings become fully loaded weapons in the hand of their enemy, the devil, to kill, steal, and destroy. Yet, unlike Slager, most of us excuse our actions by chalking them up to the bad day we just had. We realize little consequence for our actions until we are eaten up with cancer or our children don’t want to talk to us any longer, or worse, they get into a life of crime or drug addiction.

Hold on for a minute! The Good news is coming! There is a solution.

The reason most of us, even Christians and ministers, fail in this respect is because sin is embedded in our psyches. While the power of sin and the devil have been disabled when we come to the Cross of Christ, we hold onto patterns of reacting to others through our brain’s powerful memory banks. This can be very difficult to overcome unless the right strategy is applied.

One strategy is to help folks understand how human psychology works as defined by Scripture through supporting scientific evidence (yes, social-psychology is just one more scientific discipline that is finally catching up with the Bible). Understanding how something called toxic shame is able to distort the human identity is key. Other strategies I use employ simple tools such as worksheets found in my book; Accelerated Transformation: Maturity, Intimacy, and Unity through Emotional Healing to identify the distortions in our identity.

Nelson_Transformation_R3-2

I also use a method of healing prayer that I can administer through pastoral counseling or coaching sessions. In this form of prayer, we seek to listen to the voice of God versus petitioning the hand of God to act on our behalf (this method is also explained in my book). Personally hearing the voice of God, versus being taught or prophesied to, is what instantly heals the heart. Articles on this website are dedicated to bringing greater awareness to the problems caused by sin and our distorted identities as well as highlighting the solutions that exist.

Since so few of us fully understand the sort of power we wield over the lives of others when we spew our angry words or become self-righteous or toxic towards others, it is important that we get a grasp on this. I cannot over emphasize this enough; by behaving in such ways, we are equally capable of causing long lasting damage to the psyches of those we love as we are to the acquaintances and strangers in our lives.

I never like to put too much attention on the devil because we need to see the potential of God in every situation to heal and transform broken lives, but it does pay off to know the strategies of one’s enemy.

10624251_1541530666082541_1774374613_aSatan and his henchmen (demons, etc…) are very real. But demons need human beings to have any power to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). As a matter of fact, I don’t think they actually have to work very hard at spreading the disease of human suffering in the world. Because once the poison of sin has distorted the human identity and diminished the human being’s sense of self-worth, the deadly mixture will go viral and spread like wild fire totally unassisted by the enemy of our souls. Embedded in the toxic words and actions of human beings who are constantly trying to prove their worth to the world through self-effort (i.e., self-righteousness, pride, people pleasing), hate and death will bury their bitter selves deep into the hearts of many of the people they come into contact with. And the cycle just repeats itself from one offended and wounded heart to the next.

It isn’t just others that we hurt, but we hurt ourselves as well. The number one thing Satan uses to derail our relationships, opportunities, and ministries is our offenses with others. Once we are offended, our enemy can usually bank on us reacting out of our flesh rather than responding to our offender in love. That, my brothers and sisters, is the key to defeating our enemy, responding to our offenders in love. However, it is much easier said than done. As a matter of fact, for some people in some circumstances it is impossible for them to gain this amount of self-control without going through some extensive healing. That is because most ministers as well as Christians, often come from deeply troubled backgrounds or circumstances

I can’t tell you how many wounded Christians and ministers I have watched fall into this trap with their families, friends, and church members despite having committed themselves to the commission to bring healing and life into the lives of those God has entrusted into their care. Instead, many times they yield to their flesh in the heat of an argument or during a moment of insecurity and inadvertently ending up crushing and destroying a heart; the very last thing any Christian or minister wants to do.

Could this be because we take such a cavalier attitude towards such actions in our satirical culture? If so, it might help some to see what Jesus had to say about it.

Jesus equated this sort of reaction to murder, as follows:

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, “Raca,” is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell. (Matthew 5:21-22)

Social-psychologists refer to this as committing “soul murder.” While our offenses may be real, our reactions should be biblical; self-sacrificing, in love. Instead they are typically self-righteous or self-preserving. Then why is it that many religions including some Christian sects seem to have so many within their ranks crying out for hell fire and damnation? Isn’t justice important? First, let’s look at what Jesus had to say about all of this?

You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. (Matthew 5:38-40).

 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15)

It is a pretty serious matter to not be forgiven by God. Instead of forgiving others, what we usually try to do is take our pain out on the other person… demanding skin for skin, taking what we are owed from their hide by crucifying their soul. If this is difficult to understand, hang in there, the explanation is forthcoming.

But first, to complicate matters more, what does Jesus tell US to do when we offend others (such as when we react in anger to someone who has offended us)?

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:23-26)

Sounds a little bit like a double standard. Others can drag us into court but we must forgive. Well, sort of. But based upon many other scriptures, this isn’t meant to be a hard and fast rule regarding taking action against one who has broken the law. Christians are not forbidden from seeking civil justice. But, in some cases, depending on how the Lord and your conscience leads, you might have to lay down your rights. It is something we each need to pray earnestly about. Many a Christian has forgiven huge debts for horrible acts committed against them and gained the salvation of the offender’s soul in the process. But in these verses of scripture, the judge being referred to here may or may not work in an actual local court of law. Either way, it is good advice as there is both a spiritual as well as a literal connotation to this example.

Satan's Roles

Satan’s Roles

With regard to the spiritual connotation, few probably realize that spiritual court is being held behind the scenes every day of our lives. In this court of appeals Satan serves as our accuser as he did in the book of Job when requesting to sift another man of God. Who serves as our judge? God, of course. And if you have put your trust in our Lord, Jesus will serve as your Advocate (Lawyer).

But how many of us actually will choose to heed the advice of our Advocate with regard to settling our debts quickly? Have you asked yourself why Jesus would instruct us not to delay in settling our accounts let we be dragged into court?

Waiting is often an act of self-righteousness. If you have received the Gift of Grace that Jesus’ Blood has afforded you, you have no right to claim any righteousness in and of your own effort. Our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). It must come from the Blood of Jesus to keep our accuser, Satan, from taking that opportunity to put some sort of disease, disaster, or destruction upon our lives. Not only does Satan serve as our accuser, but he will be happy to serve as our tormentor as well. However, if we will but trust in the Lord’s Blood to provide payment for our sins by asking forgiveness for them, our enemy has no further right to lay anything upon us. And those things he has already managed to put upon us can be healed and our lives can be restored.

However, if we continue to hold anyone else in bondage, requiring payment for their sins by not forgiving them, our Father in Heaven won’t forgive us either and Satan will, once again, have the right to torment us. If this doesn’t already make a lot of sense to you, Jesus provided us with an excellent example that will help you to gain quick understanding of the issue through “The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant” from Matthew 18:21-36.

In a nutshell, when the disciples asked Jesus how many times a person should forgive the same offender, Jesus told them “seventy times seven.” He shared this parable to help them gain better understanding as to why.

There was a king wanting to settle his accounts with his servants. But one servant was unable to repay a really huge debt. So, when the servant and his family were to be sold as slaves to repay the debt, the servant pleaded with the king for mercy. When the king had compassion and cancelled the debt, instead of being grateful and doing the same to all of his debtors, the servant began choking one of his debtors who only owed him a small sum while demanding repayment. When that debtor begged for mercy, he threw him in jail. When the king found out about this, he was outraged and he handed that servant over to be tortured and jailed until he paid back every cent.

The king being spoke of here is to represent God who has forgiven all who accept His mercy for the huge debt each of us owes for our sin; a human life. Since our lives, being unholy, are unable to satisfy the debt, we will be turned over to the tormentors unless someone with a life holy and worthy enough to pay off the debt is given in their place. Who paid for that debt? The King’s precious and holy Son, Jesus. Can you understand this now? If a Christian refuses to forgive those who have offended him/her, it is like trampling underfoot the precious Blood of Jesus basically elevating oneself above God.

So one of the big keys to our healing and restoration physically, financially, intellectually, emotionally, and relationally is to forgive all those who have offended us in the past, present, and in the future. When we respond in love rather than reacting in anger, we are able to stop the poison of sin from spreading from person to person. Our distorted identities can be restored in healing communities; churches that foster a nonshaming* social culture where individuals are safe to be vulnerable while transforming into their restored Image and Likeness of Jesus Christ.

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*You may want to read other articles about how toxic shame is different from healthy shame in order to understand the different roles of each.

© 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 previous and following statements 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. The author is simply providing you with helpful information as a pastoral counselor with Master’s degrees in adult education and conflict negotiation and mediation.

Jes Suis Charlie Hebdo?

February 18, 2015
murica

Satirical art is meant to get people thinking. And a picture is worth a thousand words. But is an attack on someone’s identity taking free speech too far?

The murder of the Charlie Hebdo (CM) employees by two Muslim terrorists was reprehensible (an attack which came in response to the satirical cartoons placed on the cover of CM’s magazine mocking the Islamic religion’s founder, Mohammed). Despite the horror and unrighteous nature of the attack, we should probably ask ourselves, are there are times when our freedom of speech goes too far? If not, then why are we beginning to send people to jail for “hate speech?” Isn’t that keeping a double standard? Let’s examine this issue from both sides of the coin. Because the subject deserves a thorough investigation, this will be a longer than usual article, but hopefully an enjoyable and informative one (please like, comment, and share! Thanks!).

Western societies tolerate satirical art quite well. As Americans, we greatly value our freedom of speech and will gladly go to war to fight for everyone’s right to free speech. And I wholeheartedly agree, even if that means you will speak out against the things that I value or you hurt my feelings. Our Lord endowed us with these freedoms. It was with these freedoms in mind that our nation’s founding fathers wrote its foundational documents. For example, in the Declaration of Independence they said the following,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That is why constitutional rights should be protected even when it hurts us to hear such disrespectful things, things similar to those depicted in the cartoon, above. But it does makes one think, right? And thinking is something an educated public is supposed to do. Without education, there is no hope to maintain a free society. The repression of freedom in education and the lack of freedom in speech among Muslim societies sort of guarantees that their citizens will remain subjugated by the atrocities of Sharia Law. So, what may seem like hate speech to you may have a valuable point behind it. Never mind that it be a part of someone else’s religious or political beliefs; both of which are protected under the law. Let’s take the difference of opinion that exists about homosexuality in our society as one example.

Speaking Against Homosexuality: Homophobic Hate Speech or Reasonable Argument?

homophobic

One of the issues being debated within this topic is whether or not homosexuality is truly a genetic anomaly thereby making it deserving of protected status (against criticism or discrimination). However, for those who believe being gay is not genetic but a choice, they don’t feel it is within the government’s jurisdiction to legislate such protections (not that anyone should be treated hatefully… that IS within the government’s jurisdiction). However, many people believe that homosexuals are that way because they struggle with one or more of the following issues (in other words, they simply need a strategy to help them overcome this propensity). They may be dealing with:

  • A psychological problem (e.g., not having the attention desired from the same sex parent or or being sexually molested as a child);
  • A desire for attention (i.e., it is the newest fad so kids can now become popular, pitied, and supported while simultaneously sticking it to their parents. Lots of kids who would never have considered homosexuality are going this direction now for this very reason. Some people just need a soap box to stand on while they beat their drum in order to feel okay about who they are.);
  • Nowadays with all of the attention being dedicated to gay people in the media, kids are getting confused about their sexuality. Many assume they are gay simply because they are just fearful or socially awkward with the opposite sex or really admire someone of the same sex.
  • Pornography confuses people a great deal, too. Many who think they are gay have merely developed a perverted sexual appetite due to their exposure to pornography where homosexual interactions are common.
  • Because of today’s free attitude about sex (or shamelessness), possessing absolutely no moral restraints such as being restricting sex to marital relations only, many people get in bondage to homosexuality because they have allowed themselves to become a part of  experimental sexual experiences. In the past, social mores made all of this less likely to happen.

Had you ever considered any of those reasons before? Did you even know that there is absolutely no genetic proof that a person is born gay? Did reading my words enlighten you in ways that a biased media could not?

Are you even aware that there is an intentional campaign in the American media to promote homosexuality as a lifestyle to you and your children? Albeit, the purpose may have been a noble one (to enlighten people of the prejudice against gays in order to provide equal rights), that is essentially what it is doing. While treating everyone with respect is important, is it healthy for a society to promote this as an alternative lifestyle for all people to consider? That is essentially what the media is doing with it. But sadly, we are swallowing it, hook, line, and sinker. Why not, you may ask? That is a topic for another day (in a nutshell, it creates confusion with regard to one’s identity and creates a barrier to properly understanding the nature of God).

Yet, if my words were repressed by law (the way talking about the Bible in public schools has been despite it being the very foundation of Western Civilization), you may not have gotten the chance to hear any of what I had to say today because they would have prohibited me from discussing this topic.

You see, if we begin regulating what can and cannot be discussed in public, then all potentially enlightening conversations will be stifled for fear of being thrown in jail. Pretty soon, even preaching out in public, for example, will be banned. Actually, in some places it apparently already is and it appears to be a trend that is growing in popularity. That may not be a big loss to you, but your religious group or political organization may become the next target.

When that sort of thing is tolerated and becomes accepted on a wider scale, American citizens will be no better off than those living within Communistic societies or under fascist regimes. These are environments where people can be taken away without a fair trial or shot for speaking out against their government. It goes on every day in other nations. If you don’t believe me, do you remember how last fall (2014) 43 students speaking out against the local government in Mexico suddenly disappeared? That happened right in our own neighborhood.

The Consequences of Free Speech

Nevertheless, we really do need to be asking ourselves some very serious questions regarding how we allow people to speak about others, individually or as groups. For example, what sort of messages do we send to our children when shame, humiliate, or poke fun at one another or when we allow them to watch it on sitcoms where we, ourselves, laugh at television programs that do that?

It is likely that all of us have been guilty of doing this at one time or the other. That’s because it is considered a normal part of modern American or the Western lifestyle.

Why do we tolerate it?

Because it features very prominently within our entertainment system. Does that mean it is right? No.

Tocolumbine understand its damaging effects let’s consider for a moment the mass murders committed by young students within those now infamous school shootings. Everyone really wants to say that the perpetrators were mentally ill… and sure, that may be true. However, I feel by labeling them, it takes the pressure off of us to do anything about our own behavior. I don’t think they were all that different from us.

What does it take to Create a Killer?

Columbine_Shooting_Security_Camera

Columbine School Killers

An unintended consequence of our freedom of speech when poking fun at others is that people in society, particularly our kids may never feel safe showing their weaknesses or vulnerabilities to others. The world suddenly becomes an unfriendly if not a hostile place.

Ask yourself, do you really feel safe opening up to people? With the exception of the people who are close to you, do you feel you can really be you; sharing  your heart with others, your likes, your dreams, and maybe even exposing some of your weaknesses and vulnerabilities?  What about owning up to your mistakes (to those you have harmed/offended versus doing so long after the fact to other people who were were not involved)? You see? When I am speaking of our kids, I am also speaking of us, too.

When our kids learn that it isn’t safe to be human, they will stop being real. Consequently, they may completely lose their ability to trust. Or worse, yet, they may trust anyone who is willing to give them the attention they crave (often, attention will equal worth).

john-maguire

John Maguire, a Canadian, went to Syria 4 months after becoming a Muslim in college.

This is likely why some youths, like John Maguire (right), are leaving the comforts of home here in the Americas, the UK, and Europe to join  the likes of the terrorist group, Isis. Maguire set off for Syria only four months after his conversion to Islam. Kipling Williams professor of psychological sciences at Purdue University said:

“Being excluded is painful because it threatens fundamental human needs, such as belonging and self-esteem,” Williams said. “Again and again research has found that strong, harmful reactions are possible even when ostracized by a stranger or for a short amount of time.”

More than 5,000 people have participated in studies using a computer game designed by Williams to show how just two or three minutes of ostracism can produce lingering negative feelings.

“How can it be that such a brief experience, even when being ignored and excluded by strangers with whom the individual will never have any face-to-face interaction, can have such a powerful effect?” he said. “The effect is consistent even though individuals’ personalities vary.”

CAPLOCK ME TO DEATH

People also vary in how they cope, which is the second stage of ostracism. Coping can mean the person tries to harder be included. For example, some of those who are ostracized may be more likely to engage in behaviors that increase their future inclusion by mimicking, complying, obeying orders, cooperating or expressing attraction.

“They will go to great lengths to enhance their sense of belonging and self-esteem,” Williams said.

If they feel there is little hope for re-inclusion or that they have little control over their lives, they may resort to provocative behavior and even aggression.

“At some point, they stop worrying about being liked, and they just want to be noticed,” Williams said.[2]

bullying1Both the young and old alike harbor old wounds from being ostracized, taunted, bullied, or just never quite learning how to fit in. That will often lead them to form the belief system that gives them their low self-esteem. Therefore, people, particularly the youth, tend to become obsessed with anything that they think will prop up their sense of worth.

call of dutyBoys, for example, often wish they could become a super hero because it would give them power to take control and gain them the respect and attention they may lack. While others might enjoy taking on a powerful identity in role playing video games where, again, they get to be in control. But this time they can exert the same sort of aggression and inflict similar pain upon their enemies that many of them feel they have felt after having been humiliated or rejected.

violent_video_gamesIt really doesn’t take long for that sort of pretending to become a reality within a young person’s heart. With that in mind, is it really any wonder that this well organized terrorist group with their “can do, take control” attitude, slick media campaign, and black masked uniforms is attracting some of the world’s youth?  Williams explained how this phenomenon is related to pain:

“However, if a person has been ostracized for a long time, they may not have the ability to continue coping as the pain lingers. Some people may give up,” Williams said.

“The third stage is called resignation. This is when people who have been ostracized are less helpful and more aggressive to others in general,” he said. “It also increases anger and sadness, and long-term ostracism can result in alienation, depression, helplessness and feelings of unworthiness.”

Williams is trying to better understand how ostracized individuals may be attracted to extreme groups and what might be the reactions of ostracized groups.

“These groups provide members with a sense of belonging, self-worth and control, but they can fuel narrowness, radicalism and intolerance, and perhaps a propensity toward hostility and violence toward others,” he said. “When a person feels ostracized they feel out of control, and aggressive behavior is one way to restore that control. When these individuals come together in a group there can be negative consequences.

So is it any wonder why a Muslim youth who got his identity, sense of belonging, and worth from his extremist religion might react to the satirical cartoons of Charlie Hebdo in such a murderous fashion? No. Not at all.

Females, on the other hand, tend to focus more upon their appearance and their ability to attract the attention of the opposite sex (although males will do this, as well). Consequently, girls may develop an obsession with applying makeup, buying clothes, and following the celebrities that they wish they could be like. All of this get way out of balance if decide they will go to any lengths to change their appearance, even if that means they must undergo lots of cosmetic procedures. Another extreme women take is when they believe that guys who want to go to bed with them means they have value so they never set up any boundaries with any man who approaches them for sex. When, in truth, men believe the opposite to be true. Rather than seeing the relationship going somewhere permanent, in their minds a girl who does not value herself enough to put up boundaries is disposable; to be used and discarded.

Eventually, people living from an identity of shame will add other things to the list that signify worth to them; their achievements, their careers, the amount of money they have, the size of house, the type of car, or other objects they have, and so on.

Lost Relationships

BLack of Intimacyesides finding themselves in bondage to the endless cycle of maintaining their self-image, another consequence of hiding behind masks is losing one’s ability to be truly intimate and authentic with others.

Someone I knew provided me with the perfect example of this. One of my family members witnessed a strange phenomenon when he taught English overseas in South Korea. He couldn’t help but notice how students who reached the sixth grade would suddenly go through some sort of transformation. These delightful, open faced children who had been so easy to relate to had, at one time seemed quite happy, loving and even confident. Then all of a sudden they changed. They became the direct opposite from their former selves.

ImproveSelfEsteem_thumbThe way everything was described to me, it was as if a heavy, dark cloud was hanging over them. It became obvious from their frowning faces that they were uncomfortably self-conscious. They often walked with their shoulders slumped. Instead of looking up at the teacher in excited anticipation of the interaction, they continually kept their heads down in what seemed to be a sign that they were doomed to live in an endless state of shame. Essentially, they had become prisoners in their own skin.

I Miss you 보고싶다 kdrama 2012 episode 1 김소현 Kim So HyunYou see, when children must protect themselves against the sort of free-for-all shaming that goes on across all segments of society, they feel compelled to don masks of pride. Consequently, they will hide that part of themselves that they deem to be weak or whatever part of them that they have somehow judged to be unworthy of acceptance; unworthy in a world obsessed with power and people whose primary focus is the lust of the eyes, pride of life, and desires of the body.

This can lead to difficulties getting along with others or maintaining relationships. For example, when long-held relationships with close family members and friends begin reminding people of their weaknesses and stirring up old wounds, some feel compelled to abandon these relationships altogether; that, or keep them at a very safe distance.

This tends to happen when people grow older and finally realize that their friends and family members are human, too (i.e., weak, vulnerable, imperfect). When these folks can’t hold up to the standards they have implemented in their own lives to insulate themselves from their pain and shame, that is when their love is likely to grow cold and they often “trade up” for a new family and set of friends, as Maguire did when he left his family behind for his Muslim brothers in Syria.

Although very few people will end up becoming mass murderers, through actions like these, they inadvertently become murderers nonetheless. In fact, shame and death perpetuate even more shame and death. It is an endless cycle.

Committing Soul Murder

authentic-self-soul-made-visible2Did you know that shaming, humiliating or rejecting someone is the same thing as committing psychological murder? Social psychologists call this “soul murder” (e.g., Alice Miller; John Bradshaw). So it stands to reason why some may be pushing to outlaw this form of social violence through the implementation of hate crime laws and by launching campaigns against bullying. Might it make people think twice before insulting others through satire or comedy? Hopefully, but probably not.

Although the phrase was coined by scientists in the last century, soul murder is also spoken of in the Bible.

For example, Jesus said to call someone is a fool or to taunt them by calling them the name “Raca,” an Aramaic word that depicts someone as empty headed and shows utter contempt for that person, that puts the offender’s soul in danger of hell fire.

Why would that be?

Based upon the comparison Jesus made, doing so would be tantamount to committing murder. (It is always nice when science finally catches up to the Bible. This has been happening a lot lately… in several areas of discipline.) Here is more proof of this claim.

The Purdue professor cited earlier conducted research into how the brain reacts to or registers emotional pain. He explained:

“Being excluded or ostracized is an invisible form of bullying that doesn’t leave bruises, and therefore we often underestimate its impact,” said Kipling D. Williams, a professor of psychological sciences. “Being excluded by high school friends, office colleagues, or even spouses or family members can be excruciating. And because ostracism is experienced in three stages, the life of those painful feelings can be extended for the long term.

“When a person is ostracized, the brain’s dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, which registers physical pain, also feels this social injury,” Williams said.[1]

In other words, our emotional pain feels the same to us as our physical pain. There is speculation that it may even hurt worse. Consequently, when someone perceives he is in danger of suffering an injury, it isn’t that much of a stretch to justify their angry reaction. They are merely reacting in the same defensive manner they might if their bodies were being attacked and their lives were at stake. To read more about this phenomenon, see my earlier article entitled “The Link Between Defensiveness and Shame – Part I.”

At this juncture, it is important for me to clarify one thing. I have not been talking about the sort of shame everyone ought to have for doing something wrong. That is a healthy, necessary form of shame. I am talking about another type of shame, toxic shame.

What is Toxic Shame?

Toxic shame is the sort of shame that promotes soul murder. In some respects it is a mocking, taunting kind of shame. In others, it is the act of being cut out of someone’s life. Sometimes our shame is real and sometimes it is imagined (it is what we believe about ourselves). It doesn’t have to come at the hands of a disapproving or abusive person. It can come as the result of some sort of traumatic accident, the death of a family member, or a decision we made on our own.

Toxic shame can also be used as a manipulative device by people who want to pressure others into conforming to their wishes. Peer pressure is one example of this.

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Peer pressure doesn’t just happen to children. It often comes through satirical cartoons, comedy routines, and other forms of media. Husbands and wives often use it against one another to get their way. It is world’s way of insuring conformity.

On the other hand, healthy shame teaches people to respect the rights of others. If handled properly, allowing our children to experience shame for their actions can promote a sense of humility and spirituality within them while developing greater sensitivity for others. Nevertheless, just as our Lord came to heal us of our toxic shame, He also came to relieve us from the burden of guilt that so often weighs us down after having committed a transgression against others, ourselves, or God.

The Long Term Psychological Effects of Toxic Shame

Besides creating something akin to physical pain in people, how else can toxic shame or soul murder manifest itself on a psychological level?

becoming_authentic_selfAs I mentioned earlier, when it is not safe to be ourselves, we will choose to become someone else; hence, our authentic self will die, or more accurately, we will choose to bury it. The thing is, we will never be rid of it. It is still there holding all the wounds of the past.

The wounds from this sort of shame can trap adults in a perpetual cycle of immaturity, often at the age when the wounds first occurred. In other words, when society tolerates the shaming of others, this tends to create childish BABY BOTTLElittle monsters that hide inside of most of us until a wound or hot button is touched upon. Anger and rage are often the result. That is because it has reminded us of our shame; or the part of our soul that we murdered in favor of a more powerful or more acceptable persona.

Temper TantrumsPeople who do not have control over their rage or anger can be set free from this and other manifestations when they heal their old wounds and reverse the lies believed about their self-concept through a program that promotes mind renewal. The Church, by in large, is going to be helpful, here, unless they don’t know what that is. Emotional healing is really the key component in any program hoping to see lasting transformation. But  few in the Church know how to do this. Contact me for more coaching services, training in this method or check out my book, mentioned at the end of this article or to the right of my blog site.

Besides flying into a rage, which can end in physical violence for some, there are many other detrimental effects and reactions to emotional pain that could become strongholds in our lives which will need mind renewal and the healing of the heart. For example, when the wounds of shame begin to manifest, episodes of depression and anxiety often result. All of this, along with other techniques at distracting ourselves such as keeping busy all the time, engaging in obsessive behaviors or comforting ourselves with substances, are subconscious ways we try to head off the approaching pain that rising the the surface. These habits often take people down the slippery slope to destruction (poor health, alcoholism, relationship troubles, difficulty raising kids, maintaining a job, or engaging in daily upkeep).

The next two scripture verses will demonstrate the amazing psychological benefits that are hidden within the Bible. Why anyone would be offended by the Bible doesn’t make much sense when you consider all of its benefits. The first was a verse quoted from the Old Testament by Jesus Christ at the announcement of the start of His public ministry (see Luke 7). He said His reading of this verse from Isaiah 61 on that day was the fulfillment of that particular prophecy. In a nutshell, here is what Jesus is all about:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance.

From the perspective of a sociologist or psychologist the New Testament, where the life and ministry of Jesus was highlighted, is full of restorative help to the broken and the self-absorbed members of our society. When one keeps in mind the tendency of society to shame others, includes most of us to some degree or the other.

The apostle, John, explains how the love in our hearts can grows cold when our focus becomes about gaining positions of pride:

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God [to love Him, ourselves, and others] lives forever. I John 2:15-17 (brackets mine)

In other words, if the world is where our greatest treasures are laid up (in an effort to prop our self-esteems up or to comfort our pain), our hearts will eventually grow cold and our lives made empty. Additionally, they will become wrapped up in their base human nature (instincts, basic needs), less likely to be able to reach for the higher pursuits of Truth, Love, and Peace.

Ripe for the Picking

Twain QuoteAs we have just seen by the examples given of young men going off to fight for ISIS and young women giving themselves over to any man who comes along, when we are dominated by our need to please others or to be somebody, we are as they say, ripe for the picking. When we depend on others for our self-esteem or when our self-esteem is based on what we do and not for who we really are, we will develop blind spots. Therefore, we may easily be lead astray. We might be taken by whatever propaganda campaign the media or government wants to promote (hence the need for education and critical thinking skills in addition to healed hearts).

silent-treatment

But on a more personal level, we could find ourselves being manipulated by those who are closest to us, particularly if we deem them worthy enough to please.

Male Equality

This would be especially harmful to if their intentions were malicious or their motives selfish. That means we would have lost our independent, critical thinking skills, at least in this particular area of our lives. Consequently, we could easily be lead into bondage or death.

man with dummyAllowing the opinions someone has of us to determine our sense of worth for us is not only dangerous but it is what Scripture calls immature. We are easily swayed, tossed to and fro from forces outside of our own will. Here is one example given by the apostle, Paul, regarding how lacking a sure foundation within ourselves will cause us to be easily manipulated by religious leaders causing us to buy into false teaching/doctrine:

. . .that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ. . . Ephesians 4:14-15.

(This is also referring to a lack of biblical knowledge, too.)

As God Sees YouIf nothing else, whether you believe in Christ or not, you will have to admit that the Church does many good things to promote healthy societies. The goal of the Church is to promote maturity in individuals and to keep people consciously aware of and ever endeavoring to reach the higher principles of life; love, patience, loving kindness, peace. Treating one’s fellow man with respect and valuing his freedom of choice is a big part of that, too. It is a tragedy when we see people coming out of some churches who do not possess such values, but then again, there is the fact that people don’t often stick with the program presented to them or they could also be “in process” of being transformed into Christ’s likeness. Then again, sometimes, not always, the church may be off kilter. That may be because it doesn’t line up with the Bible in some way or because it is being run by someone put in office who is immature or deceptive.

So back to the subject matter at hand. Does our society, with its freedom of speech, tolerance for mocking, a media and art forms that offend could these cause the psychological harm that promote such immaturity? Yes. It certainly could; especially now that society has totally lost its sense of decorum and foundational respect for others.

And what are the consequences of living in such a society?

What all of this equates to is that our citizens of the Western world may lack the confidence (self-esteem, psychological strength) to stand up against the status quo (even when they know the score and aren’t in a state of perpetual blindness by their own desire to fit in).

The problem with this?

That is how societies are able to bring someone like Hitler into power. Being compelled to conform to the world in order to gain a sense of self-esteem is not only bondage for the individual but it turns citizens into something akin to a mindless drone (sheeple).

Posters for Spotless Bride

It is this need to base one’s self-esteem and self-concept upon what others think of them that dooms them to be trapped to forever live in a perpetual state of immaturity, easily wounded and often self-righteous. That is why the apostle, Paul, tells us the following:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. . . Romans 12:2

i-have-this-weird-self-esteem-issueThose with low self-esteems, for example, are more likely to harden their hearts by developing an arrogant and self-righteous attitude. They are also more likely to become overly sensitive when something that was said or done touches upon a wound that reminds them of the shame and humiliation they felt after realizing a certain part of themselves did not properly conform to the world (or whatever behavior they perceived to be acceptable to those they wanted to please) and was, therefore, unworthy. Consequently, people tend to end up searching incessantly for a sense of identity that they can finally align themselves with that will successfully insulate their hearts from their inner pain… the pain of being who they have wrongly deemed themselves to be (e.g., I am a mistake, I am flawed, I am not good enough, etc…) that is, UNLESS they can save face and conform with something more acceptable, worthy or powerful.

Parents need to be trained to recognize the damage that can be done by the assault being perpetuated against their children’s self-esteem on a daily basis so that they can teach their children of their true value and remind them who they really are. If they don’t, their children are more likely to grow up with hard hearts. With love growing cold, they could grow callous, jaded, and pretty soon your softhearted, sweet child may join in with the rest of the crowd and begin mocking those who are weaker or not like the group. In today’s world, though, this could very easily get them killed if, God forbid, one of their classmates goes to school seeking a way to make a statement to the world about the misery they have endured at the hands of their peers. Then again, your child’s heart could become so wounded by the teasing of others, growing so hard and cold that he or she could become the next mass murderer at school.

Shaming others changes and shapes human identity unlike anything else can. That is why shaming others promotes the vicious cycle we call sin. It is what has made our whole society broken and emotionally ill to one degree or the other. The only solution to this problem is the grace provided to us by the precious Blood of Christ.

The sad reality behind all of this, though, is that this incessant shaming and humiliation that children and adults tend to foist upon their peers is done in an effort to, at best, feel like they fit in or, at worst, to feel superior to them in order to salvage whatever self-esteem they can in a desperate effort to ameliorate their own sense of shame.

Should Societies Tolerate Satire?

In light of these facts, should we really be tolerating satirical cartoons or other forms of similar entertainment or art? I’d love to have you sound in with your thoughts. Here are a few of mine.

Restricting the degree of freedom we allow people to have when speaking to or about others does impose upon our freedoms, but might that be a necessary evil if we ever hope to heal the suffering that arises from the injuries that this sort of onslaught to the human identity can cause? Possibly. But that is likely to never happen.

violators_baptizedCan you imagine how our already over burdened legal system would crumble under the sheer number of cases that would be brought to the table if they tried to regulate such behavior? Every time someone felt insulted, they’d be dragging people to court. But that is why churches are so valuable to society. They teach us to “do unto others as we would have others do unto us.”

So just as the Church seems to be falling out of popularity in American or Western Society, “going out of business” so to speak, the people who turn Christians into the demented villains or clowns in their stories or make them the butt of their jokes, might want to reconsider the alternative. Either that or they need to batten down their hatches and take cover because love has already begun to run cold and the atrocities are only increasing.

1950s_family_lifeConversely, consider this. During that golden age in America before the Bible and prayer had been taken out of the schools, the Church and its ministers were held in high esteem and our society thrived. The Bible and prayer were taken out of the schools and governmental meetings fifty plus years ago despite being a part of daily life in both for 300 years. Up until that point in time, American citizens could orig_old_hands_on_bibleanever have dreamed of a time when we’d have the problem we now face with drugs, alcoholism, unwed mothers, divorce, crime, and rampant selfishness. Why? That is what happens when people lose their moral compass and “other” focus. Love grows cold when people are allowed to disrespect one another.

If something about this article has peaked your interest or you recognize the need for healing of the wounds in your own life, I would like to invite you to keep learning about this topic through the articles on this blog. Or better yet, you may want to buy my book to learn the deeper psychological aspects of the effect your wounds and the wounds of others may be having on others and upon the world. The book is called, Accelerated Transformation: Maturity, Intimacy, and Unity through Emotional Healing. It can be found at my website, http://thespotlessbride.come.

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SOURCE

1) Sciencedaily.com (6-6-2011). “Pain of Ostrascism can be Long Lasting. Featured research from Purdue University. “Retrieved on 2-10-2015 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110510151216.htm

2) Ibid.

© 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. The author is simply providing you with helpful information as a pastoral counselor with Master’s degrees in adult education and conflict negotiation and mediation.

Heart Faith vs. Head Faith: Head Faith Alone Won’t Do

November 22, 2014

The following contains excerpts from Accelerated Transformation: Maturity, Intimacy, and Unity through Emotional Healing, by Tracey Nelson, M.Ed.

Belief-in-an-Angry-God-Now-Linked-to-Mental-IllnessWe cannot live a life of faith, boldness, and conviction if our image of God is terrifying. Not if our heart competes with the head knowledge we’ve gained about our loving Father. Also, if we relate to God from the standpoint of a worm rather than a son or daughter of the King of the Universe, we cannot raise our faith to a level which allows us to believe that He actually desires to give us an abundant life let alone trust that He will back us up when we pray for something as miraculous as a healing. That is much too hard to do.

No, we must first come into possession of two forms of knowledge or faith to do that; head knowledge/faith and heart knowledge/faith. I group knowledge and faith together because we don’t usually trust without knowledge. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

Have you ever wondered why your prayers did not seem to get through? That is likely because you only have head knowledge or faith; knowledge/faith that hasn’t dropped down into your heart yet. It is in the heart where faith comes alive, as follows, “…for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9).

Sure there are times when our prayers get through with head faith. But to get to that level we must know the Truth in both our minds and hearts; the Truth pertaining to, most especially, the knowledge of who God is and who we are in relationship to Him. That is the only way we will be able to have the “heart faith” to fully tap into His loving provision and healing for our lives and others.

royal blue throneBut what if we have a past full of fear and anxiety that makes us see our Heavenly Father through the eyes of fear and doubt? How can we rise up into our position of authority as royal sons and daughters in the Kingdom of God in our present condition?

We can’t… not without help.

That is why God sent us His ministers to minister to the Church “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13). But we also need the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts through various experiences as we walk out our faith and knowledge of God’s Word. Ministers tend to be those with more experience walking their faith out. That is why they can help us so much.

Faith comes through faith-based experiences with His Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit. That is how this teaching came to me. I had lots of head knowledge for years, but things really took off for me when it moved to my heart. People learn best by experience. David Kolb (1984) the father of Experiential Learning Theory stated that “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (p. 38). That transformation happens in the heart.

heart vs. headThankfully, scientists have discovered that the heart isn’t just a blood pump. Its neural structures are like the brain’s. They also have the ability to think. Consequently, the heart is now referred to as a “mini-brain.”[1] (Once again, science is catching up with the Bible.)

According to brain scientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf, it’s function is to check for congruence. [2] This makes total sense to me because when we are betrayed by those we have trusted or have cared about, what part of our body feels the pain? Our hearts! So which part of us is going to harden up and become less trusting over time after it has experienced significant hurt? Of course, it is our heart.

Balance Heart And MindWhen it comes time to trust God or have faith in Him, whether that be during our initial salvation experience or it is our 100th time praying the prayer of faith, our heart is going to check for congruence between what we are seeking to accomplish through prayer and our ability to trust God for it. If the heart has been significantly shamed and wounded, our prayer may not manifest to our liking because we are tossed to and fro by doubt. As we learn in James 1, we are “double minded;” tossed between the heart and the head. We know we believe the Bible and others’ testimonies when they speak of God answering prayer, but we know it in our mind. We haven’t walked it out in experience yet. Experience is required to get it into the heart; that, and healing. You see, we are like those people who have been burned by former lovers that, like them, we will eventually live our lives in fear of being betrayed. So unless our hearts are healed, we won’t be able to trust God. That is why the Lord had me write my book and this blog. To show you the way to healing your heart (more on that in a minute). It isnt’ an easy thing to do. Some people spend decades on the psychiatrist’s couch or in church tragically to no avail.

IT STARTS WITH OUR CONCEPT OF GOD

So let’s start with our concept of God. A recent study showed that belief in a punitive God was significantly associated with an increase in psychiatric symptoms such as social anxiety, paranoia, obsession, and compulsion. [3] On the other hand, belief in a benevolent God was associated with a reduction in those symptoms. [4]

Sure, we may go to church or read the Bible and get the idea that God’s intentions are benevolent, that He desires good things for us. But that is just “head knowledge.” For one reason or the other, though, our hearts are definitely not convinced.

Often, our concept of God comes from our experiences with our earthly fathers and other authority figures. But we can also have difficulty trusting because of our deeply wounded hearts.  Typically painful experiences with shame leave our hearts bruised, anxious, and fearful. Of course, if we are confused about who God is to begin with or that His intentions for us are good, then that must get straightened out first. But if we want the knowledge we have about God and our new identities in Christ to get from our heads down into our hearts, our hearts must be completely healed. This is how God accelerates our transformation into His image. Once healed, we will finally be able us to walk in victory as His royal sons of daughters to become true leaders in the Kingdom of God.

BEING TRANSFORMED INTO CHRIST’S IMAGE

your_royal_calling

Humanity was originally created in God’s Image (see Genesis 1:27-28). Being raised by imperfect humans with the stain of sin upon us all, we lost connection to who we were. It was as if Satan kidnapped a prince or princess and put them into slavery far from any knowledge of their royal parents or true identity. It was at that point that humanity began acting like abused slaves, like the worms I spoke of earlier; survival of the fittest is the motto of many a human worm, “every man for himself!” How does one come out from that sort of narcissistic thinking?

It is only when our hearts are finally able to capture a vision of ourselves from the standpoint of His Love for us as royal princes and princesses that we are healed and forever changed. God came in the form of Jesus to rescue us; to be our example of how sons and daughters living in a fallen world could be. That is why we must daily behold the glory of who Jesus is as if we were looking in a mirror at ourselves to finally understand what all of that truly means (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).

bride-of-christ2

Unfortunately, this concept of seeing ourselves through the eyes of God’s Love may be so foreign to our wounded hearts and clouded minds that it becomes a battle for us to walk into who we really are as God’s children and Christ’s bride. This is what it means to face spiritual warfare.

The Body of Christ

The Body of Christ

Our enemy knows the danger he faces if we are finally able to move beyond our wounds. If we are able to join our heads with our hearts and fully integrate this understanding into our thinking, acting, and feeling, we will walk in the authority of Christ and join Him in destroying the works of the devil. This is the point at which we function individually as the Body of Christ on earth; walking in our identity and in the faith to do the “greater works” of Christ (see John 14:12). But this can’t happen until our hearts are able to catch up with our heads.

Over the last few decades, the Church has been pretty helpful with our process of transformation by teaching us mind-renewal techniques. This usually transpires through a program of Scripture memorization and by writing on one side of a 3×5 inch index card the lies we believed then putting the truth to counteract the lie on the front side. When we put these cards on our mirrors or refrigerators, we will remind ourselves by saying something like, “I renounce the lie that says….” then “I profess the truth over this situation. I believe what God’s word says about this situation which is…” We would do this until the truth eventually became a part of our thinking. But one thing the Church didn’t teach us was how to get this knowledge from our heads into our hearts.

What is the remedy? For one, experience through greater intimacy with God via the Holy Spirit. This has an incredible ability to heal our broken hearts. Jesus told us to make sure we take time out to “abide in the Vine” (John 15:4-5). Of course He is the Vine being spoken of. We are also told to “Be still and know I am God” (Psalm 46:10). But there are several other things required to heal our hearts in an accelerated time frame that I can share with you in my book (see below).

Unfortunately, this information is not readily available in the Church today. Up until I discovered the solution; I, myself, had struggled to make this connection between the head and the heart despite spending 27 years in the Church. Healing is most assuredly required (see Isaiah 61 and Luke 4:18). However, understanding how to make that happen is difficult to get across without some considerable time spent teaching you. That is why I wrote a book. There is only one of me to go around. Though I do offer coaching services and will come do a training weekend with your group to help out if desired. But the book will go a long way to getting you to your healing. As a matter of fact, what I have learned will get you there in a very short amount of time. You see, once Christians are healed, their transformation into Christ’s likeness is accelerated and they are quickly able to utilize the supernatural provision of God to grow into greater maturity, holiness, and power.

Nelson_Transformation_R3-2HOW MY BOOK CAN HELP

I wrote, Accelerated Transformation, to give you, the reader, practical steps and tools as well as cutting edge knowledge to do just that; accelerate your transformation. This occurs through the biblical means of mind renewal, stated above, and I do encourage Scripture memorization. But to get that knowledge into the heart, your relational past and difficult experiences must be explored so you can heal your memories. You are a new creation in Christ, but your memories must catch up to that fact. Your slave or worm mentality must be transformed.

I included two audio recordings for you to download for free once you purchase the book. Each is about an hour long. More on those in a moment. I also added healing worksheets and exercises in the appendix to facilitate your progress as well as adding questions to the end of each chapter to help the new information you are learning to “stick.”

The audio by Graham Cook is set to the piano music of Steve Swanson. In it, Graham speaks many profound truths of God about you in an effort raise you to your royal identity and destiny as a child of God. I felt the Lord wanted me to include this with my book because I experienced benefit from it as these truths are quite transformative in nature and the delivery is special. With Cook’s beautiful British accent and the music in the background this recording has the same capacity that all the arts have; to get past the guard (the lies) we place over our hearts (to protect them from further hurt). Due to the resistance of the heart receive love, to trust, and have faith, the arts are able to create a pathway for truth to slip in unnoticed.

The other audio is a healing prayer session with me leading the prayer. It is also set to music. This new form of prayer leads the person being prayed over to position him or herself to receive a healing touch directly from God to his or her heart.

To purchase this book and get your audio downloads along with everything else, please go to http://www.thespotlessbride.com/#!goals

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Sources:

1) Leaf, C. Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions. Rivonia, South Africa: Switch on Your Brain, 2007.

2) Ibid.

3) Silton NR, Flannelly KJ, Galek K, Ellison CG. “Beliefs About God and Mental Health Among American Adults.” J Relig Health. 2013 Apr 10.

4) Ibid.

 

REFERENCES

Kolb, D. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1984.

© 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. The author is simply a pastoral counselor with Master’s degrees in adult education and conflict negotiation and mediation.

The Link Between Defensiveness and Shame Part I

October 24, 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image17182293

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.

online-learning-african-american

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.

man_in_the_mirror

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.

TV_junk_food

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.

counseling and coaching

 

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

defending-the-faith

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

gods-not-dead

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).

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