Of Rainbows, Love & Sharing God’s Grace

rainbow

The Cross is a symbol of Jesus love and death; offering mercy, grace and forgiveness of sins. The rainbow is a symbol of promise; offering hope, mercy and God’s love. The dove is a symbol of the Spirit of God; offering peace. The olive branch is symbolic of peace and extending grace.

The LGBT community has chosen the rainbow as their symbol, borrowing from Christianity, to make their statement. (And if there’s some pagan story about a rainbow, coolness. I still attribute the rainbow to the recordings in an ancient book, established long before any pride parades started up.)

My goal is not to stir hate and anger towards the LGBT community, or even from them, nor is it to put a feather in our collective Christian hat. That doesn’t interest me at all. I haven’t the slightest trouble loving them. And I don’t even have such a hard time understanding them anymore. Having spent many hours with Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction, indulge in same-sex pornography and even fall into real live same-sex sexual encounters, I no longer see it as an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ battle. I see it as a ‘them being out’ versus ‘some (or many?) of us struggling and/or hiding’ same-sex relationships. I wish it were not so, but it is. And this isn’t some ‘let’s all panic and throw our hands up’ appeal; it is an appeal to be honest and look first at the beam hanging carelessly from our own eyes, as we point accusingly.

We have no right to point fingers. Far too many little boys and girls are introduced to sex at a young age, in our churches and communities, and have no where to turn to talk, to get support and to report molestation to the authorities–because the Bible does say to be subject to the rulers of the land, and those rulers tell us to report. And those same children come tell me how that took them on a path of same-sex attraction, or other sexually deviant behaviours. If we, the church, stand by and allow this kind of victimization, we have no right to point fingers at the LGBT community. (And, while I believe that molestation and early child-to-child sexual exploring is responsible for a host of homosexuality in churches–at least churches of my background–I do not believe that it is the only reason. And outside of our church circles I have no ‘data’ to back up any such claims, but I do have good cause to say it about ‘us’ based on what I have learned inside church walls.)

In fact, if the climate of society is distressing, I would dare to say that it first went wrong in the church, not the other way around. And I believe this because God says in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from Heaven and I will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

If God’s people repent in humility and seek God’s face, then God will forgive His people and heal… His people? No! “…then I will heal their land!” The land is suffering because of the sins among God’s people. And then we stand back and get our knickers in a knot and wonder how they can do all that. Given what I’ve heard from church people, of what happens in secret, I can say with confidence, we are guilty.

I say this not to shame or condemn, but to invite the church to repent. And I would appeal to leaders in particular. Repent of your sins. Openly and publicly. Not this ‘carefully protect him because of his leadership role’ while dealing harshly with others. Repent like Ezra and Nehemiah, crying out to God, face down, with the people of God. It seems almost every week we hear of another church leader having an affair or some other moral failure, somewhere. And frequently I hear from victims who were blatantly molested or coerced into sexual affair, by leaders currently hold positions in churches. Always I ask if the offender or instigator has ever come back to say, “I’m sorry, what I did to you was wrong”, or if a crime was committed I ask if it was reported and almost without fail the answer is “No”.  Sometimes the leaders are people I know, and sometimes even leaders who have blatantly lied, saying they repented and took ownership, and yet sitting with their victims, they tell me they never heard from their offender(s).

Men and women of God, until we start living with some level of honesty and integrity before God, the ‘church’ and the world, we ought to be ashamed of ourselves–and, yes, in this situation I endorse being ashamed–if we place an expectation of holiness on unbelievers that we ourselves do not hold to. And I’m not talking in word, but in our lifestyle, in our repentance, in our transparency  with past sin, and certainly letting victims know (through safe avenues) that our sins against them were wrong, and sins against God.

A shake down is coming… Some of us have said it for several years, and we’re seeing it play out all around. And I believe we will see more and more hidden wickedness brought to light, particularly in religion at a leadership level. Again, I urge you, if you don’t want God to use drastic measures to expose you, then expose your sins and crimes yourself, and stop pointing fingers at the sinners who wear rainbow colours, when you drag your own ball and chain through church.

My prayer for the church and for the LGBT community is healing, wholeness and hope. My heart for both is love and the peace of God. Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost, whether in the church or in the world…. But the healing of the land, begins with us.

We all need God’s Rainbow of Promise, or surely we would be consumed and drowning by now, if He had not painted that first rainbow in the sky… We all need God’s Love and Grace. And it awaits, on our knees in reptentance.

Love,
~ T ~

TO REGISTER for Lancaster Pennsylvania Conference,  July 10-11, 2015 visit: GenerationsUnleashed.com
full brochureLancaster County 2015_C


© Trudy Metzger

Social Media and ‘Self Promotion’: Did Jesus Start All This?

This thing of ‘self promotion’, on Facebook, Twitter and any number of other social media platforms–‘follow me’, ‘like me’, ‘friend me’–is it blatant, arrogant self promotion? Is it obnoxious and rude? Or did Jesus start it all when He tweeted, I mean ‘spoke’, those two little words: “Follow Me”? And did the Apostle Paul, who was as human and imperfect as you and I, add to this with his own name-dropping tweet: “Follow me, even as I follow Christ”

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Were Jesus, Paul, and other heroes of faith promoting themselves? And the prophets who galloped through towns, warning the people to hear what they had to say, and act in response, were they just full of themselves? What about Queen Esther, then nothing more than a Jewish girl, with no ‘platform’? (You know, like that person who follows you, and you check out their profile and they’re following like 400 people, and 9 are following them back, and you’re like, “Whoa… you must be a creep! No one wants to follow you. Yeah, that was Queen Esther.) Was she simply trying to ‘step on heads to get ahead’?

Or is it possible that God called each of these individuals to deliver a message, and they decided “… ‘come hell or high water’, I’m delivering it. And even if half of my friends ‘unfriend’ me, and most of my ‘followers’ unfollow me, I will deliver”? Is it also possible that they faced the same attacks, in different ways, as men and women today face, for speaking truth?

The pastor who reads a particular scripture–like perhaps the one on gluttony, or gossip… er… Ummm… I mean, the one on homosexuality–and half the people gripe or don’t come back. Should he stop preaching on gluttony, or gossip, to appease those in the congregation who struggle against it, or (especially) those who indulge and really don’t care? Should he rather focus on homosexuality, so the others feel good about themselves, and go home to celebrate God’s goodness with yet another massive meal, while heaping condemnation on the man or woman who spends every night on his or her knees, pleading with God to take that same-sex desire away? Should he be silent? Or should he say, like Jesus, “Follow me”, and like Paul, “Follow me, even as I follow Christ”? Even if he is judged for it?

Maybe it’s the person who preaches love and grace, because of the grace he has experienced in his own life, and he offends the ‘hell fire and brimstone’ preachers, with his offering. Should he stop? Should he preach something he is not anointed to preach, in order to appease those who want to manipulate minds, by using truth out of context, in ways it was never intended, by God, to be used?  Is this preacher touting his own agenda, and trying to lift himself up?

What about those of us ‘crying in the wilderness’ today… the wilderness of abuse, like my friends *Boz Tchividjian  and **Pastor Dale and Faith Ingraham, or those fighting to end the sex trade and create awareness, like my friend ***Kelita…  Are we putting ourselves in the front-lines of a despised topic, to draw attention to ourselves, to create a following? Or, like the prophets, like Jesus, and like Paul, are we saying that God has given us something, often through painful personal experience and redemption, that will bring you hope? I propose that we are crying out, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, because He is coming to you… to us… to the broken’!

One of the things we who are called to share a message of hope have to become comfortable with,  in today’s world, is ‘getting out there’ and putting our message in front of people. Gone are the days of the publishing companies doing the legwork. “If you are not comfortable marketing your product, you’re best off to self-publish and print a few for your close friends,’ is a bit of advice that came my way, because the publishers don’t do it for you anymore. This was a bit jolting for me, to learn this, at first.

The truth is, I love marketing things… and other people… if I know those people and things will help someone. But marketing my message, my story, my book? Putting it vulnerably on paper, and then setting it in front of crowds, through blogging, social media, news stations etc, that was a stretch. None-the-less, I resigned myself and pushed forward with the process of traditional publishing. Is it comfortable? That would be overstated. Am I confident about it? Absolutely! Does it mean a few friends and acquaintances misunderstand me, are offended,  and judge me? Yes. But I am okay with that.

Every life-changing spiritual message that ever was uttered or written, was judged, and offended many. I anticipate the same. So, like Jesus, I will say, “Follow me…” being quick to add, “I know One who can heal you!” And like Paul I will say, “Follow me, even as I follow Christ!” And like Jonah, every now and then, I’ll board an excursion to the bottom of the sea, until the fish can stomach my nonsense no more and throws me up on dry land, so that I face reality, and once again declare the message God has given me.

Ultimately, you and I have but one question to answer: Did we do it for Jesus, to lift Him up, to spread His Love, to offer our hearts in compassion? Or did we do it for ourselves?

Love

~ T ~

*Boz Tchividjian is the grandson of Billy Graham, founder of G.R.A.C.E. (see link above by clicking his name) and a professor at Liberty University. I am honoured to call him friend, and that he wrote the foreword for ‘Between 2 Gods’!

**Dale & Faith Ingraham are faithful advocates for abuse victims in the church, addressing this difficult topic, and offering healing to victims. To learn more, click on their name above.

***Kelita Haverland, who had a very difficult start to life, has founding healing in Jesus and shares her message of hope, through the talents God her.  She is a talented musician and comedian, with the ability to move an audience from laughter, to tears, to both at the same time. She will be in southern Ontario in early May, and we will partner together for events. If you would like to schedule an event in your church or community, please email info@generationsunleashed.com, and we will send through available dates.

© Trudy Metzger

To Donate: Generations Unleashed (Help Victims of Sexual Abuse Churches

(Tax Receipts will automatically be issued for all donations over $20)

First Blog: September 2010, “Running on Empty”

A Time (for the Church) To Speak (on Sexual Abuse & Taboo Topics)

For many years the church has been silent on the topic of sexuality, and sexual abuse. She has been guilty of covering her eyes and turning a blind eye, as children fell prey to predators. The predators often wearing religious garbs. She has covered her ears at the sound of their weeping, and sung the more loudly, to hide those cries.

She has been controlled and led predominantly by men, many of whom have their own hidden secrets, buried in the shame and silence of the past. The shame is either because they have suffered abuse and victimization, or because they are the perpetrators who have inflicted such trauma. The silence is either one of those, or possibly to cover for the friend or relative who was or is a perpetrator.

It has been done to protect the false image of the church or denomination. It has been done to keep the funds rolling in from the perpetrator who gives generously. It is a crime that has been committed against victims, a sin committed against God. A violation of the heart of Jesus.

But those days are coming to an end. The church will again rise up for the truth, and stand up against evil. She will again reclaim her role as the passionate bride of Christ, the nurturing representation of God’s heart, the safe place for victims.

We live in a time that demands accountability from leadership, justice for the perpetrator, and protection for the victims and potential victims. The laws of our land require it. The law of God and His justice demand it. But more importantly, His heart for children cries out for it.

Not only is our nation rising up, because God has ordained it to be so, but victims are finding their voices and God is raising up  warriors who will fight for the children within the body of Christ. He is exposing the sins of the fathers, and freeing the children from the curse. He is turning the hearts of the children back to the fathers, to bring healing, hope and restoration. I am not going to miss out on that!

The calling God placed on my life–a calling that has been declared and prophesied over and over again, by friends in the Mennonite church and in my current church–is directly linked to this exposing, healing and restoration that God is doing.  It is an honour and a delight to be part of what God is doing in the time, this generation.

For two years we have done ministry focusing predominantly, almost solely, on women, other than meeting with and mentoring a few couples. It has been good, rewarding. But we quickly discovered that there are many, many male victims, and little acknowledgement or resources in the church addressing their plight, partially because of ignorance, and partially ‘it’s never been done’, and no one seems to know where to begin.

When we were first asked if we would do ministry for men, I said ‘no’. As a female, leading the ministry, I found the thought daunting. Overwhelming. Little by little I felt a stirring in my heart. God inviting me to reconsider. I’m not Jael, or Esther, or Deborah, and yet I felt so clearly God saying, “for such a time as this”. I heard Him challenge me to ‘drive a spike’ into the enemy’s head, and reclaim authority in the area of sexuality, and take back what the enemy has taken through silence.

With that Tim and I embarked on the mission to establish Generations Unleashed, a ministry to men, women and families. While the official charitable status is still in limbo, as we wait for Ottawa to bless our mandate, we have our first conference coming up November 23-24, 2012, in partnership with Faith Girls Unleashed.

I searched and prayed for a man to work with me, to be part of the conference and speak on behalf of male victims. God answered that prayer, connecting me with a young man named David Elliott, a 15-year-old survivor, who, along with his family, is determined to make a difference.

David and his parents have written a book for children, called David’s Sword, giving children a voice. His brother, Dan, and his parents have written a second book, David’s Shield, for siblings of victims. And his parents, Marybeth and Lee, are working on two more books.

We are excited to have David and his family join us for the conference and share their story with us. They will offer hope to victims and help equip the body of Christ, the community and families in dealing with sexual abuse, as well as preparing those who will one day encounter this tragedy.

Kirk Durston, of Woodside church in Elmira, will share on the topic of homosexuality, another neglected topic. While not all who struggle with homosexuality do so because of abuse, many do and openly admit it. And not all abusive victims struggle with homosexuality. Either way, and even apart from the abuse issue, the church needs to speak on this topic. Silence will accomplish nothing.

I will share a bit of my story on Friday night, followed by confessions from individuals representing fathers, mothers, pastors, men in general and women in general, as the offenders in abuse.

The conference, Healing for the Broken, will be held at Wilmot Centre Missionary Church 2463 Bleams Road, RR2 Petersburg, Ontario. We would love to have you join us. To register visit http://www.faithgirlsunleashed.com/events_3.html. The early bird rate ends November 8, 2012.

For more information about the speakers, visit: http://www.generationsunleashed.com/events.html

NOTE: Saturday snacks and noon meal included

© Trudy Metzger

Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series

First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series

Sexual Abuse & Violence: A Few Unpopular Thoughts (Part 2)

(…Continued…)

Having left our children and youth vulnerable in the area of sexuality, through silence and denial, we are quick to pick up stones and throw them at others who fall into sin in the church. Especially those who struggle with same-sex attraction—disregarding that it is quite likely because they were sacrificed on ‘the altar’ as children. We condemn them to hell without ever hearing their stories, their pain, their hearts.

Through neglect we create the ‘dragon’ we later spend much of our energy trying to slay. We chalk same-sex attraction up to ‘personal choices’—and, for those who choose the lifestyle, there is merit in it because we do have free will—but we neglect to acknowledge the ways we have failed to educate and equip. We blame

their choices on rebellion, which also has some merit, but we fail to see that it is ultimately the rebellion of a Christian culture against God, not necessarily, always and only, the rebellion of the person struggling with temptation or choosing that lifestyle. If he or she has been introduced to same-sex experience through childhood sexual abuse, it will often continue to be a struggle. So, while turning a blind eye to their childhood plight, we are quick to judge and abandon them later.

Christian ‘psychology’, loosely so named by me for the purpose of my blog post, and based only on detached religious/Christian opinion, would say, “surely the victims would be repulsed by such things and not engage in it later”. I’ve heard that argument. In reality, that is not how it works.

Go back to the truth that ‘sexuality is more spiritual than physical’, and it stands to reason that if you give a specific spirit power, then, in fact, it creates a bond that will potentially become a driving force. It opens a door to attraction that is unnatural—according to God’s obvious plan—and leaves the person struggling, possibly for life.

Even as believers we may struggle for many years against that attraction, through the awakening of something we should have never known. This struggle is not uncommon. I’ve heard it from women and men, including those in Conservative cultures, and those wearing white bonnets. It is a ‘humanity problem’, and a tragic consequence for childhood sexual abuse that is not appropriately addressed. Tragically, we have made it completely unsafe for these people to safely put their struggle on the table, unwilling to do the hard work of walking through the messy stuff of their experience with them. In this way we ‘sentence them’ to (more likely) falling into same-sex relationships, by not giving them a safe place.

Lest you are tempted to judge those who struggle, remember, any one of us could choose the homosexual lifestyle, whether we have been innocently introduced to it in childhood or not. To arrogantly declare otherwise is foolish. All we have to do is turn our hearts away from acknowledging God (Romans 1), and accept ‘this world’ view and humanistic thinking on the matter, and we open ourselves up to that.

To judge harshly those who struggle with the attraction, even though they choose either a heterosexual or celibate lifestyle, is not Christ-like. Particularly when many of us, and church leaders included, have secrets hidden in our own closets that we are not willing to expose.

I cannot help but wonder, if the reason the church has become hyper-reactive to those who admit struggling with homosexual attraction, is because we’re in a panic that we will be exposed if they stick around too long. We fear that God will require that we ‘come out of the closet’ so to speak, in the hidden things of our personal lives. Maybe, just maybe, if we—the church—did just that, things would change.

What if every leader, who is quick to judge and quick to expose or excommunicate, while hiding personal sins, would stand up and make confessions for the hidden sins, rather than demanding the other person do so?

What if Christian leaders would ‘lead by example’, rather than judgement? What if the world would see us living transparent lives, rather than religiously arrogant lives? What if the young man or young woman who struggles with same-sex attraction was not judged for the temptation, but pursued in love by Christians who realize it could just as easily have been them?

….To Be Continued….

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Return to 1st post in Sexual Abuse Series

Sexual Abuse & Violence: A Few Unpopular Thoughts (Part 1)

This post is not likely going to be the one that makes me famous. At least not with many. I’ve decided to air my unpopular thoughts, to get them out in the open and leave no one second-guessing where I stand on some basic views of sexuality… and the church.

The popular views of society are offensive to me. I don’t embrace them. In general, society has taken the path of ‘anything goes’, where no one needs to take personal ownership or responsibility. This, to such an extreme that even perpetrators who molest children are given an ‘orientation’ title, rather than calling it what it is: brutality, evil and violence against children. No, we have to protect the perpetrator. Heaven forbid that we would say they are perverted, selfish and—that word we don’t use anymore—‘evil’ and sinful. We might hurt their feelings and scar their identity, lowering their self-esteem. God forbid! Now they are ‘oriented’ with a ‘preference for children’. Seriously? Never mind that every child impacted by their ‘orientation’ will struggle through life, brutally scarred. (Read  ‘Common Characteristics of Individuals with Pedophilia’. For more information google it–there’s lots to read on it.)

Since when do we need to babysit the feelings of adults, and avoid the truth because it might hurt the perpetrator, at the expense of little children? Is there not something wrong with that picture? Yes, perpetrators need help, they need someone to work through that stuff–I have a heart for perps–but to justify and polish it will not help them, nor demand accountability. All the while kids are losing their identities at the hands of evil men and women. Has the whole world gone mad?

I probably am not going to be too popular in some conservative Christian circles, either. I’m okay with that too, because, frankly, I’m a bit embarrassed on both fronts—society and the church. While society has erred on one extreme, the church has done so on several fronts.

On the one hand the church–and I know I am generalizing–has judged harshly and quickly, anyone who is caught in sexual sin, whether premarital sex, extramarital affairs or homosexuality. On the other hand, some have softened the truth to make it more palatable for those who wish to pursue these lifestyles, or sins, as they are unpopularly called in the Bible. Yet, regardless which way a church’s pendulum swings on this, all of these situations are the result of free will and personal choices made by consenting adults, out of a God-given right to choose. What appals me most is that we pay so much attention to adult behaviour—and I’m not saying we should disregard it—while we all but turn a blind eye to the plight of children in the church. That is offensive to me.

In self-righteous arrogance I have heard people say of child abuse, “That does not happen in my church!” or “That is very rare in our culture, almost unheard of.” And in the next breath the very person making the declaration, when I ask a direct question, confesses to either being a victim or a perpetrator.

Do we really believe it does not exist, or is it that we are terrified to admit that what was done to us was quite possibly done to a large percentage of the church population? Or, perhaps, we are afraid there are many more perpetrators who have hidden their sins against children, and we really cannot trust people around us. We are terrified of what it would mean, if we were to discover that our system is not working, and we have missed the mark. Maybe we are afraid that the things we were party to as children, maybe even instigators of, in our innocence, has been carried on by our peers, our friends and our relatives in adulthood. We fear the cost of freedom.

The consequence is that our children are left spiritually and sexually vulnerable. The sins of the fathers, that have not been exposed and repented of in the past, are carried on, from generation to generation. We could break the chains, with truth, but our prides stands in the way.

We gasp and shake our heads when we hear of child sacrifices through Satanic Ritual Abuse and other evil cults, yet we lay our children on the altar of sexual perversion, and allow their spirits to be ‘slaughtered’ by abuse and violence. When someone points it out, we frown, and look bewildered. “Not in our world… we’re Christians… no one would do that.” We assume that somehow we are beyond such things…. More holy and righteous than that.

Little do we realize that, through silence and denial, we’ve set our children up for potentially disastrous and traumatic lives. And we wonder why many rebel and others turn their backs entirely on God, faith and family.

….To Be Continued….

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Return to 1st post in Sexual Abuse Series