The Shame of the Bleeding Woman (guest post by Helena Knowlton)

Helena Knowlton writes at Confusion to Clarity, and within that website she offers a course and community called Arise. When this course opened last month I signed up, especially because Helena focuses on how trauma affects the body, and I continue to want to learn more about that.

I highly recommend Arise for Christian women survivors of abuse who would like to experience a guided healing journey for your heart, mind, spirit, and especially for your traumatized brain and body.

Besides the actual teaching course, Arise has so much more available. I’ve hardly scratched the surface.

When I listened to a certain lesson inside the course, I immediately asked Helena if I could make a guest blog post out of it, and she graciously agreed. Continue reading “The Shame of the Bleeding Woman (guest post by Helena Knowlton)”

Paul’s Word for the New Year: “Holy Amnesia”

It seems like the last ten years or so, having a word for the New Year has replaced making New Year’s resolutions or goals.

So if the apostle Paul had done this, I’m guessing one of the many years of his Christian life, “holy amnesia” may have been his word (okay, technically “words”).

I’m basing this idea of “holy amnesia” on Philippians 3:13b-14.

“. . . but this one thing I do: forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul wanted to forget what was behind him. (Of course what was in front of him couldn’t be forgotten because it hadn’t been experienced yet.)

So “what was behind”—wouldn’t that be . . . everything he had ever experienced?

Did Paul want to forget his entire life?

Hmmm . . . something seems a little fishy here. Maybe it’s because I lifted a few lines right out of the letter he was writing without looking at the rest of the letter.

But before I look at that, let’s look at some other things Paul didn’t forget, or want others to forget.

He didn’t forget past experiences, good and bad

Acts 22 and 26 recount how Paul told his life story, first to the Jews, and then to King Agrippa. His life experiences included very good and very bad things: he had persecuted Christians, and the Lord Jesus Christ had brought him to salvation. From the worst to the best.

Paul certainly didn’t want to forget that.

He called on other Christians to remember things

He obviously didn’t want them to forget everything in their lives.

1 Corinthians 11:2 — Remember me and the ordinances I taught you.

Galatians 2:10 — Remember the poor.

Ephesians 2 — Remember that you used to be far from God and are no longer.

Colossians 4:18 — Remember me in my bonds.

1 Thessalonians 2:9 — Remember how we served you.

2 Thessalonians 2:5 — Remember I explained these things to you in person.

2 Timothy 2:8 — Remember that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, according to the gospel I taught you.

He didn’t forget those who were not trustworthy

Demas was a partner in the Great Work, as Colossians 4:14 and Philemon 1:24 both show. But at the very end of his life Paul lamented to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:10,

“For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”

He didn’t forget the betrayal or the pain it caused him.

Only four verses later, here at the end of his life, Paul remembered and made mention of “Alexander the coppersmith, [who] did me great harm.” He warned Timothy, “Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.”

Indeed, if we forget what untrustworthy people have done to us, then we will walk into the same traps again. If we ignore what untrustworthy people have done to others of the people of God (like Paul), then we ourselves can be harmed by them.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

No, that old maxim is not in the Bible. But it represents a truth. And the way it works is by remembering what was done.

So what did Paul forget? What was his “holy amnesia”?

In this chapter of the letter to the Philippians, chapter 3, Paul warned his readers to watch out for those who “mutilate the flesh” (circumcision), thinking it would make them more holy. He was talking there about the Judaizers: the ones who wanted to give Christians a list of rules to keep in “the flesh” (our own ability) to make them more holy.

Sound familiar? Today it’s called legalism.

THEN

Paul said, “If anyone wants to boast in ‘the flesh,’ I can top that.” (That’s my loose paraphrase.)

Then he listed his earthly accomplishments, or status symbols:

~ He was a “Hebrew of the Hebrews,” top of his class, doing everything right, keeping the law with the best of them.
~ He even came from one of the “best” tribes.
~ He couldn’t be faulted for his adherence to the law. He was even a Pharisee (which didn’t have the negative connotation for most of the Jews then the way it does for us now).
~ His zeal was obvious through his desire to snuff out anything (that is, Christianity) that didn’t adhere to the religion of his fathers as he understood it.

BUT NOW

He said the ones who are the true circumcised people of God are the ones who live in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus.

Those status symbol physical fleshly sources of pride now were utterly worthless to him. All his accomplishments were worthless because the only treasure worth having was knowing Jesus Christ.

Paul had found, to his amazement, that he didn’t receive approval from God by Keeping the List. No, all the approval came through faith in Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ did it all!

Here’s something else important to notice.

In verse 12 of chapter 3, Paul began using a metaphor. He began comparing his life to running a marathon. God’s Word Translation renders it this way:

It’s not that I’ve already reached the goal or have already completed the course. But I run to win that which Jesus Christ has already won for me. Brothers and sisters, I can’t consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.

That “I don’t look back,” there, that’s how they rendered the “forgetting those things that are behind.”

Paul was running a marathon with his life, and he wanted to finish well. What did “finishing well” look like?

He had accomplished great things “in the flesh” and had status among his fellow men. But he completely eschewed that exalted position, which was meaningless in the big picture.

He even accomplished great things for the Kingdom of God in the power of the Holy Spirit! This isn’t mentioned here, so I might be extrapolating, but I believe I can say he wasn’t even going to look back on those accomplishments in order to simply rest on his laurels.

No, he was going to keep running toward Jesus. And as I mentioned in my “Obey Your Leaders and Submit to Their Authority” article (which is also a chapter of Untwisting Scriptures #2), he was pointing others to Jesus as he ran. In the same chapter of Philippians, he wrote (again, God’s Word Translation):

Whoever has a mature faith should think this way. And if you think differently, God will show you how to think. However, we should be guided by what we have learned so far.

The “holy amnesia” for us

It’s important to understand what the “this way” is that we’re supposed to think if we have a mature faith.

It’s not that we forget past grief or betrayal. Actually, one of the best ways to fully heal from it is to remember it and process it with the Lord’s presence.

It’s not that we should forget the experiences of our lives. They have played their part in shaping us as to who we are today. Wisdom learns from experience.

We certainly shouldn’t forget the great things the Lord has done for us or the truths He has taught us, or our obligation to the poor and needy.

And . . . Paul didn’t even “forget” his fleshly, earthly, legalistic accomplishments. After all, he was able to list them right there.

His “holy amnesia” was about focus. Where he was turning his eyes as he ran his marathon.

Was he going to look behind him and pat himself on the back for his accomplishments?

No. Doing that—in a race or in life—is one of the surest ways to stumble.

His “holy amnesia” turned him from past accomplishments and pointed him forward, toward the Lord and His righteousness.

I’ve never chosen a word for the year, but maybe if I did, I might also choose “holy amnesia.”

As we mature in our faith, let’s all be focused this way. And may 2022 be a year of the greatest blessing of all: seeing the Lord Jesus more clearly in our lives.

Happy New Year.

*****

P.S. I also wrote briefly about Philippians 3:13 three years ago in “How to Handle Those ‘Forgive and Forget’ Scriptures.” You can read that article here.

Here’s the Joy Looks Back Over 2021 and Looks Forward

With as full as my life has become, I believe I may have reached my peak of blogging prolific-ness in 2017, with 68 posts. This year it was only 35, but that still felt like a lot to me!

With the exception of my main evergreen post (“Why Did David Lift His Eyes to the Hills,” which always outranks all my other posts by far), this year’s most popular post was one I wrote in 2019, Your Empathy Is a Sin’: A Response to Desiring God.” One of the most poignant comments on it came from an exvangelical who said she was thankful to find a Christian who was refuting this damaging teaching.

I was glad to see that “Those 365 ‘Fear Not’ Verses in the Bible” was a popular one this year, and I hope it helped bring freedom to many. (It also was edited into a chapter of Untwisting Scriptures #3).

I think one of my own personal favorites of 2021 was “A Prayer for Anna Duggar on Mother’s Day,” because my heart goes out to this young woman. Anna Duggar was thrust into the spotlight of the nation when she married Josh Duggar, who was convicted this year on child pornography charges. Anna touches my mother’s heart, and I ache for her and her children.

So, which post did I write when I was the most angry? Probably “To Church People Who Think Husbands Should Rape Their Wives”—and you can tell how ticked I was by the title. I hate the toxic teachings of false teachers, but I always hope that any anger I feel doesn’t come across too much in my writing. I don’t want it to turn people away.

Much of this blog refutes false teaching, but I also love to just present straightforward truth. I think my favorite one of this year was “6 Ways ‘The Gospel’ Is So Much More than You’re Usually Told.”

Two new books in the Untwisting Scriptures series were published this year! You can see them here and here. I also recorded the second one in audiobook form, which you can see here. (Also you can listen to a sample chapter here.)

This year, Heart for Survivors became an official 501(c)3 nonprofit. I’m very grateful for those who contributed to help abuse survivors get on their feet and move forward with their lives.

This year I finally started a Facebook Page, “Rebecca Davis–Untwisting Scriptures.” There I’ve written shorter pieces and added many graphics of pithy quotes excerpted from blog posts and book chapters.

To wrap things up, this year I also spoke at a couple of retreats and had several lovely podcast interviews, including three with Julie Roys of The Roys Report, one on each of my three (so far) Untwisting Scriptures books. You can listen to those here and here and here. (In the last case, there’s also a video.)

What’s coming up in 2022?

In March, I’m on the roster of Heather Elizabeth’s Safer Spaces Summit. You can see more about that here.

In April, I’m scheduled to speak at the Called to Peace retreat in North Carolina. You can see more about that here.

In September, I’m scheduled to speak at Heather Elizabeth’s Held & Healed Retreat in Virginia. You can see more about that here.

I also hope to do another Untwisting Scriptures book in 2022, focusing on Righteousness and Wickedness: how they are typically presented in evangelicalism, and what I believe they really mean according to the Word of God. If you subscribe to my blog, you’ll be invited to be an early reader of this upcoming book, challenging me and giving me pushback in the ways my wise and thoughtful readers are so good at. Also, early readers that give insights into my topics may end up getting quoted in my book (with permission, of course!).

This year, as in the past, I had some absolutely lovely posts by guests authors. If your writing matches with the mission of Here’s the Joy, I invite you to submit your article to me for a guest post for 2022.

With all the difficulties that many of us have experienced in 2021, we still have great hope in the Lord. As always, my prayer and longing for the church of our Lord Jesus Christ is that many, many will rise up who will eschew false and damaging teachings and will rush to embrace the wounded and harmed the way the Good Shepherd of our souls does for us, gently and wisely leading them to Him and His salvation, through word and example. May we hear many who say, with the Psalmist in Psalm 18,

He sent from on high, he took me;
    he drew me out of many waters.
He rescued me from my strong enemy
    and from those who hated me,
    for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
    but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a broad place;
    he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

God bless you and yours in 2022. Happy New Year!

 

 

False Teaching: How Bad Theology Almost Killed My Faith (guest post by Ann-Marie Ferry)

 Especially since I’ve lately been pondering the deconstruction movement that has found many young people leaving the Christian faith, I was glad to receive this guest post recently. Thank you, Ann-Marie.

 *****

“Her son died a few years back.” The older gentleman across the table interjects, “She just isn’t the same. She’s lost her faith.” Continue reading “False Teaching: How Bad Theology Almost Killed My Faith (guest post by Ann-Marie Ferry)”

When The Psychopathic Megalomaniac Wants to Thwart God’s Plan

When six-months-pregnant Elizabeth (future mother of John the Baptist), blessed her cousin Mary, Mary burst out in praise (Luke 1:46-55):

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Especially notice that part in bold. I imagine Mary thought that the coming of the Messiah would mean the very soon fulfillment of these wonderful prophecies based on the words of the prophets of old. The setting right of all that was wrong about the world.

However . . .

Continue reading “When The Psychopathic Megalomaniac Wants to Thwart God’s Plan”

I Don’t Deserve God’s Love (or Maybe I Do?) A Thought for Advent

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, I’m thinking about Him . . . and us.

What does it mean to be deserving/worthy?

This concept refers to things being equitable and appropriate and right. For example, when the Scripture says “A workman is worthy of his wages,” it means a person should be paid according to his work.

If you say, “I am worthy,” it’s important to answer the question, “Worthy of what?”

 

Continue reading “I Don’t Deserve God’s Love (or Maybe I Do?) A Thought for Advent”

Here’s How You Can Tell When You Should Listen to Your Feelings

Heads up: Untwisting Scriptures that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind: Book 3 Your Words, Your Emotions will be free on Kindle until November 9th, 2021. Download your copy here.

***

Perhaps you’ve been taught that your feelings lie to you. That they will lead you astray, away from God and down Satan’s path, so you shouldn’t believe them.

That really never made sense to me (even in the days before I understood trauma), because feelings are just expressing feelings. They’re not making a statement of truth or falsehood.

You can say, “I feel like God doesn’t love me. That’s a lie, right?” Continue reading “Here’s How You Can Tell When You Should Listen to Your Feelings”

Let’s Compare Potiphar’s Wife with Tamar, Shall We?

Last week, when Paul Kingsbury (who I referenced in regard to “bitterness” in my first Untwisting Scriptures book) preached the sermon I’m critiquing today, I was busy putting the finishing touches on my third Untwisting Scriptures book and sending it out to the readers who will help me with my Book Launch when it comes out November 1st. Needless to say, I’m excited about this!

But now I’m able to turn my attention back to where it so often ends up going: Bad Sermons.

Paul Kingsbury is a former Chicago-area pastor who was the co-founder of Reformers Unanimous, the addiction recovery program that Josh Duggar attended a few years ago. Kingsbury has been named before and was recently named again in a news article about what appeared to be covering for someone who a missionary who had sexually assaulted a woman.

Continue reading “Let’s Compare Potiphar’s Wife with Tamar, Shall We?”