“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53: 5
The amazing response to my recent blog posts about overcoming PTSD and childhood sexual abuse continues. To date 28 people with issues similar to mine have come forward asking for help and support. It seems that freedom in Christ is contagious and I am hoping that it continues to spread like wildfire. In Christ there is nothing that we cannot overcome together.
God’s timing is perfect! Last night on Facebook Dotty Zens sent me information about a new counseling center in her area. This center offers intensive therapy including EMDR to those who have PTSD or have experienced serious trauma. Better yet…some of their services can be obtained online or via SKYPE. Dotty had no idea of what was transpiring with my blog the last several days, but her timing was spot on if not miraculous.
This past week has reminded me that our own personal stories and testimonies of overcoming serious obstacles in our lives can bring to others great healing and hope. We all know that by the stripes and wounds of Jesus we are healed. Beyond that I contend that by our wounds and stripes others can be healed. How great and wonderful it is to know that someone else suffered as we did and then still came out clean and healed on the other side of their trauma. Jesus endured and overcame suffering for us and in Christ we can suffer and overcome for the sake of others. Our endurance in the midst of great trials, suffering and trauma can inspire others to hold on until their deliverance and healing comes.
This is the beauty of totally open and free, organic fellowship. Only in a atmosphere of free and open, Spirit led sharing and dialogue is there opportunity and room for all our stories and sufferings to be told. In a closed, sermon and Pastor centered “church” there is seldom, if ever, the chance for anyone to share their story and struggles with the rest of the Body. In the middle of my worst PTSD trials Jesus and those I share fellowship with carried and supported me until I was again able to stand and walk on my own. In free and open fellowship relationships are forged in the fire of love, truth and compassion. Because of this fire we are able to trust and open up to one another in ways only the true family of God can. I can share my deepest and dark of secrets with my siblings in Christ, because they have shared their deepest and dark with me. Then together we can seek His face until our healing arrives. The true Body of Christ will go to war with you and have your back until victory comes. This is all about sharing ALL OF LIFE with each other, and not just sharing a pew on Sunday morning.
Kirk Out !
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7: 7-8
Wow! I am thoroughly blessed and overwhelmed by the response to my latest blogs. On Saturday a record setting 850 people viewed my blog; smashing the previous high by 72 views. The public comments were few, but excellent. However, I also received two dozen private messages via Facebook. In which 12 men and 3 women told me of their struggles concerning having been sexually abused during their childhood years. Of those 15 people 12 of them had never told another soul about the abuse until today. Being able to tell someone else about childhood incest and abuse and then ask for help is HUGE! Many times it is the very first step on the road to wholeness and healing. To know that going public with my personal story has helped others who have been molested as children confirms to me that being totally open and honest concerning my 14 year struggle with PTSD was definitely the way to go. One person wrote to me, “You write some really heavy stuff here. I love how honest and raw you get.” My only response to comments like that is ……that I really do not know any other way to be. The Lord has called me to be totally open, honest and raw concerning all things in my life including The Lord and His Church.
Now I am in the process of helping these folks begin to navigate their road to recovery. That includes much prayer, support and helping them to find counseling and other resources that fit their particular circumstances. I will advocate for them all I possibly can from this distance and hopefully connect them with other open and free Christ followers willing to accept and love them as a fully functional family does. The Body of Christ plays a HUGE role in my life and recovery. Without the support and love of my siblings in Christ I doubt I would have survived these past 14 years. These folks need real truth in love, gut level, dialogue and fellowship. The songs, sermons and indifference of the traditional “church” just won’t cut it.
In the last 14 years I have done a whole lot of asking, seeking, knocking and inquiring of the Lord for the strength and healing just to make it though another day. Coping with, and overcoming, memories of childhood abuse take a whole helluva lot of perseverance and grace. I do not always have those attributes, but Christ does for me every single day. The key is never giving up on Jesus or yourself. I wish I could say that I never gave up in 14 years, but that would just not be true. For 11 years the flashbacks were relentless and I was suicidal nearly every day. I attempted suicide 3 times and was nearly successful in 2001 and 2011. However, Jesus forgave me and because of Him I was able to also forgive myself. Everyday I ask, seek and knock for His deliverance, truth, love, grace and blessing. Constant communion with Jesus is what it takes to keep me alive. Jesus was there with me the first time I was molested at age 4, to comfort and embrace me, and now I am 51 years old and He has never left me even once in all those years. Healing is often a process that takes some time to achieve. So if you are out there and reading this blog post please cast all your cares and concerns upon Jesus and I promise He will carry you, emotionally, physically and Spiritually, until you are able to stand and walk again on your own. Please, no matter your circumstance, don’t give up?
Kirk Out !
“Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God, who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51: 14-17
In February 1999 I had my first PTSD episode. Waves of horrible traumatic flashbacks of being raped by my very own father flooded and overtook my entire being. I was lost in my childhood past and I could find no route of escape. Then when I thought I was fighting back against my abuser, I was in reality fighting off my wife and two of my best friends who were just trying to help and comfort me. Then in the aftermath I had to try and deal with the guilt of punching my wife and nearly choking to death two dear friends as I pinned them to the wall by their throats.
Episodes like this frequently invaded my life until I started having some breakthroughs in late 2011. However, by then it was much too late to save my marriage of 30 years. I don’t blame my ex-wife. She hung in there for a good long time, but in the end how do you stay with someone who actually threatened your life several times because of his mental illness? When I was lost in the flashbacks it put me into severe survival mode. All things became very base and primal and all I knew to do was to try and fight off the abuser; who in reality was only in my mind. My life was reduced to continual shame, guilt, sorrow and fits of pure rage towards whoever dare step before me. In my mind I was six year old Christopher fighting off his dad. However, in real life I was a 45 year old 6 foot tall and wide Christopher who weighed over 300 pounds, fighting off everyone who tried to love him. In the end I scared everyone away, except Jesus. And by the grace of God alone my children were always kept safe and loved.
In the quiet times Jesus always came to me; offering me total forgiveness and healing…reminding me of who I was in Christ, in spite of my affliction. I spent most of the past 14 years in seclusion, hiding in my room for the safety and welfare of others. Jesus never gave up on me though..He always showed up in my lucid moments and told me I would make it through the deep dark pit to total freedom and healing on the other side.
So here I am now right smack dab in the middle of a miraculous healing. PTSD left a wide damage path behind me, but I am happy to report that practically all my relationships have been restored to a place better than they were pre-1999. All things in the right time I guess? I still would not trade the brokenness of the last 14 years for anything else. Jesus was with me through the long dark storm and I am now closer to Him than I ever have been. In my brokenness I have become a much better person. I am no longer angry, immature, and selfish to the extent I was before. Christ has done a complete rework in my heart and mind and today I am truly free in Him like never before. I now know the great depth of His grace, mercy and love. As I sit here I am now reminded that the very first thing love is…is patient. I know firsthand that Jesus will never leave or forsake us; no matter what we ever say or do. For a few years there I was little more than a large, frightened, fierce animal, but today I am once again a child of The King and brother to all. I have discovered that in Christ we lack nothing and whatever you think you may lack Jesus will make up that difference.
Kirk Out !
“Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.”
“…and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.” Matthew 6: 12
Forgiveness is a HUGE topic and what we believe and practice concerning forgiveness pretty much impacts our lives every single day. As in all things how we approach forgiveness can either be a major positive force in our lives or a serious negative millstone around our very own necks. I have found the best way to approach forgiveness is direct and head on. For if we do not give our full attention to it..it can blindside us like a runaway freight train and leave in ruins.
This was my very first October/November without a serious PTSD episode in 14 years, and I haven’t had a significant flashback in over 4 months now. Many factors contributed to my overall positive mental health this fall including prayer, counseling, medication, a positive relationship, and depth of fellowship with Christ and His Body. However, perhaps the greatest single factor has been my ability to finally let go of the pain, shame and hate that I have held against my father for his horrific rapes and abuse he inflicted upon me as a child. In short, I just forgave him.
Many times in the last 14 years I thought I had forgiven him, but each time I still held on to minuscule amounts of inner rage and hatred. Letting all that go has lifted a very heavy burden from my life and right now I feel more open and free than I ever have in life. Now when judgement against my father rises within my inner being I choose to forgive again at that very moment and the negative feelings are totally released into the care of God. Because of forgiveness I am now free and the Peace of Christ floods my mind and Spirit and cleanses away all the negative thoughts and feelings related to the abuse. Oh I still have memories, but the memories are now submitted to Christ and no longer hold any power against me.
I seriously questioned the Lord and myself as to why I had not forgiven my father any sooner, and the answer was that I was neither ready or able until recently. These things take time and should not be rushed. In the end it was not at all about my father deserving forgiveness, but rather about me deserving peace. Plus I finally understood that I am affected by the measure that I forgive others. Holding back forgiveness for ANY reason, just holds us back. It does not affect those who sinned against us at all. If I truly forgive as Christ forgave me…it changes my whole universe for the better. Like I said, forgiveness is a HUGE topic and I have only scratched the mere surface of it here today. Give grace, give mercy, give love, give forgiveness, and it changes your whole world. I know my world has been rocked by it for the better. Today I choose to forgive and because of that I am at peace, joyful and well.
Kirk Out !
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Galatians 5: 16
It is all so very simple. Yet so many people still fail to grasp this one simple truth… We are to live by the Spirit. Many folks think and preach that we are supposed to live by the bible, but that is not really true is it? The bible is an important tool in the life of a follower of Jesus, but without the illumination of the Spirit it is all just dead letter. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life!
If we truly live by the Spirit we will then be able to grasp and understand the truths and concepts found in the bible. It is only then that we can apply those truths to everyday life. If the Spirit is not first and foremost in our lives, we will only misuse and misapply the written word. Many end up using the bible as a weapon and as a means to attempt to control others. Then if you don’t tow their party line you are rebuked and written off as some sort of heretic.
The Spirit gives freedom while the bible on its own brings only control, judgment and manipulation. However, if you surrender and allow the Spirit to guide you through the bible..the written words will come alive to you and you can use them as a blessing to everyone you encounter in this life. When you hold a bible in your hands you hold the potential of both life and death in your very grasp. If you are led by the Spirit you will bring life and blessing to others via the Word. However, if you are instead led by your reason or intellect..you will ultimately bring only death and destruction to those in your path.
There is a huge difference between being led by the Spirit and being led by the bible. This is why I will not back down or recant…. that we should all be Spirit and NOT bible led. Because the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life! Using the bible while you are walking in the Spirit is awesome and totally life giving. However, using the bible void of the Spirit’s leading brings only death and negativity. Please don’t misunderstand me? In the Spirit the bible is the greatest book ever. Without the Spirit it is just another dead letter book. In dead letter form the book has been used to dominate and enslave many throughout the ages. When the book is elevated to a status equal to or better than the Spirit everyone loses. In those places where doctrine reigns supreme and relationship is secondary the Church is crippled. Because relationship with Jesus and one another is the way we best reflect Christ to others in and outside of the Church. We should be known for our love for one another. Many voices today say live by the book, but even the Book itself says… LIVE BY THE SPIRIT! So that is exactly what I am going to do.
Kirk Out !
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,.. Romans 8: 1
I quote this passage today because I have some dear friends who are very close to me that are having a lot of trouble walking in this truth. They love Jesus, but are living in a perpetual state of self condemnation. Because of this they feel they are unfit and unworthy to serve God or to be in relationship with those who are serving God. This is exactly the lie that the enemy wants them to believe.
When we condemn ourselves for our shortcomings instead of receiving the grace that Christ’s sacrifice provided for all of us, we are playing God with our own lives and calling God a liar. We are saying that the blood of Jesus did not fully cleanse us and that we know ourselves better than God does. When we deny Christ in this manner it always leads us to be angry, hurt and resentful towards not only ourselves, but also towards God.
Whom the Son sets free is free indeed and we should not pass harsh judgment on ourselves and deny ourselves of His grace, mercy and love. Sometimes I am very critical of myself and when I put myself in that frame of mind it always leads to me condemning me. When I allow that mindset it also always leads me to withdraw from relationships with others who are serving Him.
Guilt and condemnation NEVER come from The Lord. NEVER! The only cure for self condemnation is to take our eyes off of ourselves and our shortcomings and to instead focus totally on Jesus and all He has done to set us free. Then we must accept His unconditional love and grace, knowing full well that no one is worthy on our own merit and that we all need Him to be our redeemer and Lord.
If you get anything out of this simple blog today let it be this: NO matter how many steps we take away from The Lord, it is always only one small step back into His loving arms. He never leaves or forsakes us. Not even when we choose to have a bad attitude concerning our own walk with Him. It is by grace we are saved! I know you give grace freely to others, but how about giving yourself some today?
Kirk Out !
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13: 14
Wow! The grace of Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Spirit. It is extremely important to have all three of these at work in your life. I think that most followers of Jesus know grace and love, but just how many of us really have fellowship with the Holy Spirit?
“Fellowship” implies a deep intimate relationship and I think that many Christians fall way short where it comes to this bond with the Holy Spirit. Most Christians cling tightly to their bibles, but tend to know very little about relating to the Spirit. Most spend more time reading and studying the book, than they do praying and spending close and intimate time with the Holy Spirit. This is sad because it is the Spirit that really makes the bible come alive to us. In fact unless the Spirit breathes on us and opens our hearts and minds to the ancient text….the bible is dead and useless. The letter of the Law kills, but the Spirit gives life!
All this brings me to this crucial question…..Do you have a relationship with God or are you just dating? Seriously? Do you walk continuously with God or do you just visit Him several times a week? Daily, moment by moment, fellowship and interaction with the Spirit is the only true way to really know and serve Him. ”….because those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.” Romans 8: 14
This is why it is so crucial to be Spirit led and not bible led. Unless you allow the Spirit to guide you in the use of the scriptures…the time you spend in them will be for naught. It is impossible to have a relationship with a book, even the best book. However, when we read as led by the Spirit the words come alive to us and are totally excellent and profitable.
So I strongly encourage everyone to develop their partnership, fellowship, relationship and intimacy with the Holy Spirit. Because in Him we have the mind of Christ available to us at all times and He will lead us into ALL truth. He actually improves our time in the bible. May we all surrender fully to Him and allow Him to fill us to the full measure of Christ.
Love and …..
Kirk Out !