A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Reminder: we offer gift books to impoverished survivors of domestic abuse

One of our readers recently donated some funds to our Gift Books program, so it seems like a good time to remind folks about the offer. Click the link to learn what books we offer free to impoverished survivors of abuse.

If you want to donate funds to the gift books program, you can do so by purchasing an Amazon gift card for A Cry For Justice. It is pretty easy to do this.

  • sign in at your Amazon account and go through the steps to purchase a gift card
  • you will be asked who the gift card is for
  • you can say it is for the A Cry For Justice account at amazon.
  • or you can say it is for the email address:  cryingoutforjustice@runbox.com which is the email address A Cry For Justice uses at Amazon.

The steps I have described work at the amazon.com website (the US site of Amazon). I am not sure whether you can do them at amazon.ca, amazon.com.au, amazon.uk, etc.

A minor way you can contribute to the gift books offer is by purchasing any book we have on our Recommended Books list. When you click on any book in that list and buy it from Amazon, a small amount of the purchase price goes to A Cry For Justice. Those funds build up until Amazon sends a gift card to A Cry For Justice.

I never use such gift cards for my personal needs. I only use them to purchase gift books for survivors of abuse who are struggling financially.

 

What does ‘pray continually’ really mean?

Like a man in prison ever desires to be delivered, whether he be eating or drinking or sleeping, and like someone who is sick desires always to be whole, so every true Christian prays continually – yea, even when he seems not to pray. For prayer consists not in much babbling (Matthew 6:7) but in spirit and truth (John 4:23,24) and in the vehement desire of the heart towards God.
— the New Matthew Bible’s note on 1 Thessalonians 5:17

“Pray continually” is a verse in the Bible that has been misused to lay false guilt on many true Christians. How many genuine believers have felt that they are disobeying this instruction if they are not praying every waking moment?

The New Matthew Bible’s note breathes compassion and empathy for afflicted Christians. Let us take comfort that prayer consists not in much babbling, but in spirit and truth and in the vehement desire of the heart towards God.

I have shared previously that I find the notes in the New Matthew Bible spiritually uplifting and illuminating. The notes are comments by William Tyndale, John Rogers, Erasmus, Church fathers, Martin Luther and other Reformers.

If you feel you have only a little strength, you can also take comfort from the fact that the church of Philadelphia had a little strength, and it was the only church which was not admonished in the book of Revelation.

For you have a little strength, and have kept my sayings, and have not denied my name.
Rev. 3:8a  (click here to read it in context)

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Further reading

The Matthew Bible is the first complete English Bible, and Ruth M Davis is gently it updating for modern readers

There we sat down and wept — Psalm 137

When they could snatch a bit of time at the riverbank, out of eye or earshot of their masters, the captive Israelites didn’t have to sing happy songs on demand. There they could sit and weep.

By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, / when we remembered thee, O Sion.
As for our harps, we hanged them up on the trees that are therein.
For there they that led us away captive required of us a song, and they that plundered us a melody: / ‘Sing us one of the songs of Sion.’
How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a strange land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,  / let my right hand forget her cunning.
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, / yea, if I
prefer not Jerusalem in my mirth.
(Psalm 137, Myles Coverdale’s translation, Book of Common Prayer)

The riverbank must have been a relatively safe place for the Israelites who were living in exile in Babylon, under the thumb of their oppressors. There they could take refuge for a little while from the humiliating demands of their captors.

Picture the Babylonians ordering the captives: “Obey us! You have no rights here! You should smile and laugh when we tell you to! Take that miserable look off your face! Put on a joyful face! Stop looking unhappy! Sing us songs of mirth! Entertain us! Make us look good!”

Over to you, dear readers. Do you have memories of being ordered to smile when you wanted to weep? And for those readers who cannot weep because your abusers wiped out your natural functions so you cannot physically shed tears, feel free to answer in whatever way is most appropriate for you.

By the way, I have recently moved the comments form to the top of the comments thread. I did this to encourage more newbies to comment on posts. I hope it doesn’t deter people from reading all the comments. Feel free to give me your feedback on this.

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Further reading on the topic of tears and weeping

Whose tears are covering the altar in Malachi 2?

My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law

 

 

Hope for isolated Christians. God will bring in the New Heavens and New Earth

Thou Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth;  / and the heavens are the work of thy hands.
They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; / they shall all wax old as a garment;
And as a vesture thou shalt change them, and they shall be changed; / but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
Psalm 102:25-27

And: You, Lord, in the beginning, laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands. They shall perish, but you shall endure. They all will grow old as does a garment, and as a vesture you will change them, and they will be changed. But you are always, and your years shall not fail. 
Heb 1:10-12

All the heavenly bodies will dissolve.
The skies will roll up like a scroll,
and their stars will all wither
as leaves wither on the vine,
and foliage on the fig tree.
Isaiah 34:4

Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
And look on the earth beneath.
For the heavens will vanish away like smoke,
The earth will grow old like a garment,
And those who dwell in it will die in like manner;
But My salvation will be forever,
And My righteousness will not be abolished.
Isaiah 51:6 34:4

Nevertheless, the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which day the heavens shall perish with terrible noise, and the elements shall melt with heat, and the earth with the works that are in it shall burn.
If all these things will perish, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy living and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, in which the heavens shall perish with fire and the elements shall be consumed with heat? Nevertheless, we look for a new heaven and a new earth according to his promise, wherein righteousness dwells.
2 Peter 3:10-13

Therefore I will shake the heavens,
And the earth will move out of her place,
In the wrath of the Lord of hosts
And in the day of His fierce anger.
Isaiah 13:13

When I put out your light,
I will cover the heavens, and make its stars dark;
I will cover the sun with a cloud,
And the moon shall not give her light.
All the bright lights of the heavens I will make dark over you,
And bring darkness upon your land,”
Says the Lord God.
Ezekiel 32:7-8

The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
Joel 2:31

Look, the Lord is leaving His place
and coming down to trample
the heights of the earth.
The mountains will melt beneath Him,
and the valleys will split apart,
like wax near a fire,
like water cascading down a mountainside.
Micah 1:3-4

Immediately after the tribulations of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give her light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall move.
Heaven and earth shall perish, but my words will abide.

Matt 24:29, 35

And I looked when he opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake, and the sun was as black as sackcloth made of hair. And the moon became even as blood; and the stars of heaven fell to the earth, even as a fig tree casts from her her figs when she is shaken by a mighty wind. And heaven vanished away, like a scroll when it is rolled together. And all mountains and isles were moved out of their places.
And the kings of the earth, and the great leaders, and the rich, and the high commanders, and the mighty, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in dens and in the rocks of the hills, and said to the hills and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the presence of him that sits on the seat, and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of his wrath is come, and who can endure it?
Rev 6:12-17

“For as the new heavens and the new earth
Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord,
“So shall your descendants and your name remain.
Isaiah 66:22

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
Isaiah 65:17

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were vanished away; and there was no more sea.
Rev 21:1

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Bible versions used in this post

  • Psalms: Book of Common Prayer
  • Other Old Testament passages: NKJ and HCSB (HCSB indicated by green font)
  • New Testament: New Matthew Bible.

John Masefield is one of my favourite poets. My grandfather and father knew many of his poems by heart.

Revised Edition of “Not Under Bondage” is in the pipeline

Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion will be coming out in a revised edition. It will be in various formats: audio book, paperback and all e-book formats (not just Kindle).

Nearly ten years ago a lady emailed me asking if my book was in audio version. The lady was supporting a survivor of abuse whose abuser had given her a brain injury that disabled her from reading print. This motivated me to record an audio version of my book. I did that in 2011. I never published the audio book, I only gave it away to a few survivors who preferred to listen to the spoken word rather than read text.

I had intended to publish the audio book on Amazon Audible, but several things held me back. Firstly, I did not have the tech skills to get it into the right format to upload it to Amazon, and I was afraid of asking / paying someone to help me do that. I fear ridicule and disbelief. I didn’t want to work with with anyone who might (even covertly) scoff at my Christian beliefs and think I was a fool for believing what I believe. I wanted to find someone who would be nice to me. Yes; I lack courage! My dad had scoffed many times at Christian beliefs. Those wounds went deep.

I wanted to find an audio technician I could work in the same room with. Communicating by email or phone is not the same. My book is like my baby and I’m like a helicopter parent: I want to closely oversee what anyone is doing to my book.

Secondly, a couple of years after recording the audio, I changed my mind on church discipline for domestic abuse (link). This meant I needed to revise my book. Although I made several attempts at revising the book, I always gave up. It was ‘too hard’. I plugged away at the ACFJ blog instead.

Then my first book designer (who was a Christian) shut down his business. This meant that I if I was ever going to publish the revised edition as a paperback, I needed to find another book designer. I was afraid of having to work with a book designer who would probably not be a Christian. My negative self-talk was my enemy.

Over the years, many people asked me if my book could be made into an e-book. I promised that I would do so… but failed to fulfill my promise. I had offers of help from people overseas, but I flinched and failed to take up their offers too.

No-one in the churches I attended cared enough to ask me about all the fears I had of working on my book. I would drop hints about how I felt, but no one took them up.

There was a lot going on in my life… I kept putting it off. The whole project of the Revised Edition became an albatross round my neck.

I hate writing about myself.  So it is hard for me to write this post – the only way I can write it is as a confessional.

I think I also had some PTSD from writing the first edition. It was terribly hard to write the first edition and then figure out how to publish it. I had never wept out all that pain – I had bottled it, because no one I mingled with face to face seemed to care enough to hear it.

But now there is good news. A guy I know here in Melbourne recently offered to edit my recording into the right format for Amazon Audible. His offer was a godsend. He is an unbeliever; but he is nice, friendly, and he does not scoff at my beliefs. His offer gave me the boost I needed to revise the book.

Over the last couple of weeks I figured out what to delete and what to replace in the printed text. The replacements had to be almost the same word length as the deletions, so that the page numbering in the revised paperback would not have to be changed. (If the page numbering had to be changed, that would have meant the indexes had to be changed.)

The audio guy told me what microphone to buy and helped me record the revised sections. He did all this voluntarily. He said he enjoyed doing it and he learned new skills.

I now have to review the audio files that he has edited, to make sure they are all correct. Then my next task will be to go to the book designer I have chosen, and get her to incorporate my revisions into the text. She will be able to put it into e-book versions. It is my intention that the Revised Edition will come out this year (2020).

Please pray for me that I will have the determination and courage to finish this project. Pray that I will not allow myself to be dragged under by the guilt-loop of self-condemnation.

I will still be publishing posts at this blog, but they may be shorter posts than usual. (Some of my readers may sigh with relief to hear that!)

Thank you to all readers of this blog.

And especial thanks to those who submit comments at the blog — you are the ones I feel most fellowship with in these days where church congregations offer so little genuine fellowship to survivors of abuse.

 

Pounding the facts; pounding the witness; pounding the table

Here is a way to identify whether someone is a genuine shepherd or a hireling-cum-wolf. Ask yourself, “Is this person pounding the facts? Or are they just pounding the witness or pounding the table?”

This post is a recapitulation and coda to Part 3 of my series about Sheep, Shepherds and Wolves.

The questions in italics at the beginning of this post are derived from advice which is given to young trial lawyers / barristers:

When you have the facts, pound the facts.
If you don’t have the facts, pound the witness.
When you don’t have the facts and you can’t pound the witness, pound the table!

A common scenario in the church: When sheep are led by wolves, the sheep and wolves jointly pound a shepherd who comes forward to try to protect the sheep.

Shepherds pound the facts; the truth, in other words.

Wolves pound the witness. Hirelings pound the witness.

Occasionally, a wolf or a hireling-cum-wolf will have an isolated fact which he will pound on relentlessly, blowing it out of proportion in an attempt to shout down any attempt at context or mitigating facts.

Wolves will pound the table as a last resort. They use outright lies and irrelevancies to raise the level of fear, anger and confusion so that no one can think properly and see what they (the wolves) are doing. Attacks like “SHAME ON YOU! SHAME ON YOU!” or “HOW DARE YOU! HOW DARE YOU!” are table thumping and raising the emotions to lower thinking. Hirelings whose pride is pricked will resort to the same tactics as a last resort.

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In this post have utilised ideas that James gave us ages ago in one of his comments on this blog. Thank you James.