Kingdom skills: causes of emotional problems #2 (inherited sin)




 

Continuing the discussion on Kingdom skills: inner healing.

We had known Faith and her family for many years.  Faith had a wonderful husband and two
delightful kids.  Yet one day she
told us that she had problems with uncontrollable anger.  For no apparent reason, she would lose
her temper with the family, shouting and yelling at them.  She had repented many times, and
frequently asked the Lord to help her, but the situation recurred over and over
again.

Anger:short fuse

We knew something of the family situation, and that her
grandfather had had similar problems when he was alive. When he lost his
temper, he was renowned for throwing plates across the dinner table.  The family connection was obvious.

We see this kind of inheritance in other situations.  The child of an alcoholic is likely to
have problems with addictions. 
Those who’ve been abused may end up abusing their own kids.  “The sins of the fathers are visited on
the children.”  (This is a
statement of fact, rather than God punishing children for their fathers’ sins.)

What is the spiritual component in this? There are two different
words used for sin—transgression and iniquity.  Transgression is the kind of sin that we commit, as in the
last post, but the word “iniquity” has the added meaning of a twisting or a
perversion.  It’s as though sin in
one generation leads to a tendency to sin in the next generation.  We see it in Nehemiah 9:2 where the
children of Israel are told to repent for their own sin and to confess the iniquities
of their fathers.  The fact that
one has inherited a tendency to sin does not negate the need to accept responsibility  for one’s own part—Faith needed to deal
with her own sin of anger—but the inherited part needed to be dealt with too.

When Faith confessed the iniquities of her grandfather as
well as repenting for her sin, and when the power of the enemy in using this in
her life was broken, Faith was completely set free from her problem.

Kingdom skills: causes of emotional problems #1

Continuing the discussion on skills for the Kingdom:  inner healing

Depression

A girl came to me with depression.  When I asked why she was depressed, she was quite clear it
was due to her family situation. 
Although she was in her 30s, she still lived at home, basically because
her parents had somehow manipulated her into remaining there saying they needed
her.  Her career and possible
relationships had been put on hold so she could look after them.

No question there was a problem in the family dynamics.  However, the main problem was in her
attitude.  She was bitter, angry
and resentful towards her parents. 
Her own sin was the cause of her depression.

Sin is a primary thing to look for.  Sin that has not been dealt with can
cause all kinds of problems. 
People need to take personal responsibility for their sin, dealing with
it thoroughly with repentance (I John 1:9) and if necessary, putting things
right with other people. 

Healing: our choice?

Glasses of water

Continuing the series on Kingdom skills–inner healing

There are some interesting verses in Proverbs 15.  Verse 13 says, “A glad heart makes a
happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.”  And verse 15 says, “For the despondent, every day brings
trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.”

The implication, especially from verse 15, is that people
have a choice as to the kind of heart that they have.  They can choose to see the glass half full or half
empty.  If their internal choice is
to have “an afflicted heart” as the older versions say, it doesn’t matter what
we pray about, nothing will change. 
But if they choose “a merry heart,” then our prayers for them make a
difference.

I remember praying over a person with epilepsy over a period
of several months.  Healing didn’t
happen for her because her epilepsy was something she could hide behind,
something that brought her attention. 
However, when she changed her attitude, and following prayer by someone
else, she was completely healed. 
She told us about the difference changing her attitude made.

Some people choose to be unhappy.  It gives them significance and draws attention to them.  That attitude has to change in someone if we want to see transformation in their lives.

Jesus asked the man at the pool of Bethesda, “Do you want to
be made whole?”

 

A physician’s perspective

Stethescope
In a former life back in the UK, I was a physician. Patients would come to me with various physical problems. I would take a history of their symptoms, examine them and make a provisional diagnosis that I would confirm if necessary with diagnostic tests, and then treat whatever condition I had diagnosed. The treatment depended on the diagnosis. For example, upper abdominal pain can be caused by anything from gall bladder problems to gastric conditions, or even a heart attack. The treatment for each is totally different. The correct diagnosis is essential if the patient is to recover.
It is similar with inner healing. For example, someone may feel depressed. For someone in the mental health field, depression is a diagnosis that is usually treated with anti-depressants. But viewed from a spiritual perspective, depression is a symptom that has some kind of spiritual root. It may be due to some event that happened in childhood, a sin that has not been dealt with etc.
Over the years as I counseled with many people, and as I searched the Scriptures, I discovered the causes of most problems fit into just a few general categories. Once aware of those categories, it is easy determine the cause or causes.
In the next few posts, I will examine these in more detail.

Where do our problems come from?

Cricket

Like it or not, we were born into a world at war. As we might say in England, "Satan does not play cricket by the rule book!" In other words, he doesn't play fair.  He is an opportunist, taking every opportunity he can to gain a foothold in our lives.

A paraphrase of John 10:10 says, "The thief has come to steal and kill and destroy.  I (Jesus) have come that you might have life more abundantly."  Satan loves to steal from us.  He seeks to steal our joy, giving us depression. He tries to steal our peace, giving us fear and anxiety, and so on.  

Satan needs a legal right in order to gain a foothold in our lives.  We sometimes unwittingly give him that right, or maybe we were defenceless at the time.  For example, a child who is the victim of abuse may have horrendous problems, but they were not to blame for what happened to them.

Thankfully, Jesus has made provision for all these things to be dealt with through his victory over death on the cross.

Jesus heals the inner person

Jesus defined his ministry in Luke 4:16-18:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come.

Jesus came to help those who were poor and oppressed.  Everywhere he went he healed people (Matthew 8).  He didn't just heal people physically, but spiritually too.  Matthew 8:16-17 describes how Jesus healed those who were demon possessed and healed the sick to fulfill the saying of the prophet Isaiah, "He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases."  However, if you look at Isaiah 53:4, the passage that Matthew translates as sicknesses and diseases, it says, Yet is was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down.

Many people's problems are not physical but emotional, spiritual or psychological.  Can Jesus heal these problems too?  Of course.  "Inner healing" is the name usually given to this. (Over the years, some have called it healing of the memories.)  

Part of my study into this area looked at how we view man.  Usually the terms, spirit, soul and body are used.  People often quote Scriptures such as 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless…) to verify this, and indeed this concept is a very helpful tool.  But most commonly, the Bible just refers to the inner man and outer man. Other words are usually used for the inner man, such as heart or spirit (eg Daniel 7:15, 1 Corinthians 6:20).  

The outer man is obvious.  The inner man consists of the soul (mind, emotions, will etc) and spirit.  The Bible itself says that it is difficult to distinguish between the soul and spirit–in fact it takes the word of God to do so (Hebrews 4:12).  

Jesus heals the inner man–hence, for want of better terminology I will use the term "inner healing" to describe the process that happens when Jesus heals the inner person.

A change of topic: Can Jesus deal with the past?

A few months ago, I asked people which topic they would prefer, "inner healing" or church planting.  The majority chose church planting, but a significant number asked me to cover healing.  So I'm taking a break from topics specifically related to church, and will be looking at inner healing for the next few posts.

Part of the reason for this is that most people, when they were in legacy church, left praying about the problems people faced in life to the pastor or other full-time professional minister. But there are some key skills that are useful for church planters.  (Note: if you are inexperienced in praying with people, find someone who has prayed for others with the kind of problem you are dealing with to work with you.)

Glare

I'll never forget the glare that Jenny gave me.

"Incest was the name of the game!" she said.

Tony and I had been married for only a year or two, and Jenny was staying with us because she was depressed. Then we discovered that every day she was swallowing bottles of cough medicine, which in those days contained opiates.  We asked her why, and that was the answer she gave us.

The story came out.  From the age of about 6 through 10, Jenny had been repeatedly raped by an uncle. And we had no answers for her.  We knew that in theory, Jesus could set her free and heal her, but we just didn't have the tools.  This led us on a search to find out how we could help Jenny, and others like her.

At that stage we were living in a very socially depressed area of London.  It has since become gentrified, but in those days every kind of problem ended up there.  Jenny was fairly typical of the sort of thing we encountered on a daily basis.

Our first clues came when we heard a friend of ours, a family doctor like ourselves, talk about something he called "inner healing."  And sure enough, it worked.  We found many people helped by the principles we began to understand.  A few years into this, a book came out, very scathing about the subject, claiming it was a new age practice.  I was troubled, not wanting to be a practitioner of something dubious.  So for the next two years I studied the subject, reading the Bible right through and making extensive notes. 

The next few posts will talk about what I discovered. 

My questions about discipleship

For some years I have pondered the question of
discipleship.  I have to confess, discipling others has been something of a mystery to me.  I know the theory, but have always
had questions about it. 

Discipling someone is usually portrayed as helping a baby in
Christ towards maturity.  Maybe my questions are because I became
a Christian on my own at age 11 from reading a book and didn’t really know any
other Christians for many years. 
Yet the Holy Spirit kept me. 
Would I have benefited from some further instruction?  Undoubtedly!  But during those years on my own, I grew in Christ, having only
the Bible and the Holy Spirit to help me mature.  (I’m not even sure where I gathered the idea that the Bible
was important—the Holy Spirit maybe?)

So my question is this?  Is the process of "making disciples" literally introducing someone to a life of following Jesus (hearing and obeying him), and sharing life will help them to grow, or is "making a disciple" a much longer process that only ends when a person is mature.  I'd be interested to know what you think.

A new kind of disciple


Aaron Snow of Intentional Gatherings recently posted this on his blog (http://bit.ly/cae2Jh).  I use it here with his permission as a great example of the kind of thing I've been blogging about recently.

“…Can you imagine what it would look like if college students who claim Jesus as Lord were equipped and released to lead their friends to Christ, Baptize them, and allow new legitimate local church communities to birth…?”

Michael was a college freshman who found himself deeply saturated in a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, and parties, which landed him jail. It was then that he came head on with a community of radical believers who were not your run-of-the-mill pew-sitters…

Shortly after encountering the power of God, and a few of these “new kinds of disciples”, Michael confessed his belief in Christ as Savior. Upon his decision to follow Jesus he was immediately Baptized in the river by a student who had been discipling him. He was welcomed into a new “spiritual family”, which met in homes throughout the city, prayed at the house of prayer together for hours each week, and actively pursued the spread of the Gospel in their individual contexts.

What appeared to be a rather healthy and fruitful “local church community” had no “name” or paid staff, but was led by other students. In the DNA of this “spiritual family” was a desire to birth new “families” as disciples were raised up and released into the harvest. Those sent out continued to be a part of the original family, but were simply no longer dependent upon their “mother”. They were anointed, and sent out to further the kingdom by making more disciples and birthing new churches while continuing to foster the close relationships of a healthy family.

(Michael being Baptized by his sister Meghan)

Michael did not know any better than to follow the lead of his disciplers. He simply did what was modeled for him. He devoured the Word, and sought Truth in the context of Biblical community. He carried a confidence in who he was as a child of God much like that of those who have known Jesus for years! This confidence was embedded in the culture of the entire community. The story of his transformation was, and still is powerful among his “druggy buddies” to this day. He still lives with some of them, and has the privilege of frequenting the parties he used to go to, now as a man transformed by the love of a real God.

Because Michael was discipled, and Baptized by one of his peers it wasn’t half a year later that he Baptized a brother in the same river he was “dunked” in. Because he was welcomed into a new spiritual family that had been started by fellow students he and another student also went out from that church to seek the birth of a new one. It’s just “what Christians do” according to the environment Michael came to Christ, and was disicpled in. It was the norm. He simply went and did likewise what he had personally experienced himself – there was no “pulling of teeth”…

There seems to be a new breed of Christ-follower
emerging here in the states. Following these disciples, and surrounding them everywhere they go is a truly unique culture that empowers existing, and new believers alike. Freedom is in the atmosphere; control and manipulation are difficult to find. Some mistake their passion for rebelliousness. The things many pastors/leaders spend a lifetime “pulling teeth” to get “their people” to do are a normal way of life for these radicals who do not know any better.

This type of culture does not currently make the headlines, sell books, or attract financial donors. Sadly, because of how far off our current cultures of discipleship have strayed from what Jesus modeled for us we become easily offended by an authentic example of such when it is lived out in front of our eyes. Our being offended causes truly beautiful examples of Kingdom growth to be doubted, and sneered at because they do not jive with our current practices…

Perhaps we should start asking ourselves why we send thousands of missionaries overseas every year to make disciples & plant new churches, but refuse to do so right here in the states?  What might we be doing to “handicap” those we lead, and how might we be preventing these discipleship cultures from being birthed & fostered in our own lives? We are believing for hundreds and thousands of “Michaels” to rise up as the new norm as existing, and new believers are released to live out this life as a “new kind of disciple”.

Discipleship within simple/organic/house churches

LTG Card  

No discussion of discipleship within the
organic/simple/house church movement would be complete without pointing people
towards Life Transformation Groups (LTGs).  Many years ago the Lord posed a series of questions to Neil
Cole:  What would you do if 100
people came to Christ this week? 
What would you do if 1000 people came to Christ this month?  What would you do if a million people
came to Christ this year?  (I may
have the exact figures wrong, but you get the idea.)  Any idea would have to be so simple it could be easily
multiplied.  It would have to easy
to remember and easy to pass on to others.

LTGs are the result of that question.  An LTG consists of two to three people
who commit to three things: 
Reading large amounts of Scripture on a weekly basis; getting together
weekly to answer accountability questions; praying for their friends who don’t
yet know the Lord.  LTGs are a grassroots tool that equip people to become reproductive disciples of Jesus and to grow in their own personal walk with the Lord and .

To learn more about LTGs, click here