Untwisting Scriptures to Find Freedom and Joy in Jesus Christ: Book 5 Brokenness and Suffering will launch on September 11, 2023. From the title you may be able to guess that it will address some of the twisted teachings that make our holy, good God seem abusive. Here are some words from early readers:

“This book should be a must read for all Christians! My personal experiences with suffering are exactly as you explain in your book. You shed light into so many areas.”


“I have devoured & loved each of your ‘Untwisting’ books and need to go back and read them all again – the previous 4 opened my eyes to so much that was oppressing me and my daughters and we began to walk out of those prisons!  Thank you again for being one of those that has shone the light of truth into our darkness.”


“I can’t believe how excited I am about your book. I think of all those souls who will feel more connected to our Savior, and my heart melts.”

Today’s guest post is by my friend Brenda Linn. Brenda and her children suffered years of terror and abuse in their home. When she asked churches for protection and help, they shamed, blamed, and abandoned her. Despite all that, Brenda has finally discovered the true God through knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. She now lives in His hope, liberty, joy and peace. Her writing in this piece reflects a perspective on twisted Scriptures that’s similar to what I’ve addressed in my upcoming book.

When Brenda speaks of “we” and “us,” she means the children of God, His faithful people.


Do you remember the solar eclipse of 2017?   I took the day off so my kids and I could experience it together.   We were so excited!

“Totality” was the climax, when the moon completely covered the face of the sun. I knew what to expect.  But I was not prepared for the way I would feel when the sun stopped shining on us.  The light was eerie.  The birds went silent.  The air movements stilled and the pressure changed. This did not feel normal. In two hours’ time, the temperature decreased 10 degrees, with a sudden drop at totality.

It was a warm day. I wasn’t cold.  But this made my skin crawl.  I realized, at a gut level, how very much my kids and I depended upon the sun for our survival.

Of course, the alignment of the sun, moon and earth gradually changed, and the warmth of the sun shone on my face again. But I will never forget how the eclipse of the sun made me feel.

I compare the vulnerability I felt during the eclipse to the way I feel about God’s presence.  I NEED God’s presence.  I can’t stand to feel like I am separated from God.

Psalm 27:9 says:

“Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger,

O You who have been my help.

Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!”

In Hebrews 13, verse 5, God answers, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I believe God will never leave us partially or temporarily.  He will never forsake us completely or permanently. God never leaves us a little.  He never leaves us a lot. Because God never leaves us nor forsakes us, verse 6 says, “we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.’”

God’s care and presence are never removed from His children.  Sometimes we don’t feel, see, understand or believe that God is present or caring, but He always IS.

During the eclipse, the sun had not been removed; we just couldn’t see it.  This is very important.  The sun was not gone; it was only out of sight.

God is much more dependable than the sun is. Something else may cast a shadow, but God is always with us.

For most of my life, I felt like I could not connect with God.  I thought His Face was often hidden from me.  I was frantic to restore my connection with God.  I suffered depression and despair.  Sometimes I thought I was going to die inside.

David knew this feeling.  In Psalm 143:6-7 he said:

“I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails!

Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit.”

But how we feel is not always a true reflection of how God is. Intense as our feelings may be, we must not base our beliefs about God on them.

I identified with the Psalmist’s cries:  “Hide not Your face from me!”  “Why are You so far from me?”  “God, where are You?” But we must not take the Psalmists’ cries as proof that God turns His Face away, either.

If we parents collected all the things our kids say to us and about us when they are hurting, angry or confused, would those words represent our character and behavior accurately?  No! Pain, anger and confusion can blind us, eclipsing our perceptions of everything else, including God and His care.  Tragedies and heartache can cast shadows over our lives.  But what does Psalm 23 say? Verse 4:

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,

for YOU ARE WITH me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Psalm 46:1 says,

“God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.”

Not just “there,” but very present.

Now, I must tell you WHY I despaired of ever staying close to God. Church and “christian” books taught me, repeatedly, that God occasionally turned His face away from me, without explanation… and that I should wait patiently and faithfully until God turned His face toward me again.

I call this “the doctrine of God’s distance.” I was taught that God tested me by turning His face away from me, to make me “stronger.”  Build my faith.  Make me desperate for Him.

I was desperate, all right.  Sometimes I felt like I was in an endless eclipse.

Have you heard of The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren? Page 43 says:

“A very important test is how you act when you can’t feel God’s presence in your life.  Sometimes God intentionally draws back, and we don’t sense His closeness.”

On page 107, Warren quotes Philip Yancey, another best-selling author, from his book, Reaching for the Invisible God:

“Any relationship involves times of closeness and times of distance, and in a relationship with God, no matter how intimate, the pendulum will swing from one side to the other.”

Warren continues,

“That’s when worship gets difficult.  To mature your friendship, God will test it with periods of seeming separation – times when it feels as if He has abandoned or forgotten you.  God feels a million miles away.”

Page 108,

“…God has not promised, ‘you will always feel my presence.’  In fact, God admits that sometimes he hides his face from us.  There are times when he appears to be MIA, missing-in-action, in your life.”

Seriously?  Does a good, good father do that?

I found the reference in the back – then I applied the Redneck Theology Test. One of the first checks of the Redneck Theology Test is:  see if an isolated passage was used to form a doctrine, or if the ideas are from several agreeing passages. The Redneck Theology Test also checks to see if the passage was quoted correctly.

Warren cites one verse, Isaiah 45:15:

“Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.”

Wait – Warren said, “God admits that he hides his face from us.” But this verse is not God speaking.

The Redneck Theology Test also looks at the context of the passage used to form a doctrine.  Verses 18 and 19:

“…I am the Lord, and there is no other.

I did not speak in secret,in a land of darkness;

I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’

I the Lord speak the TRUTH; I declare what is RIGHT.”

God did not tell us to seek Him for nothing. “I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right.”

This is another check of the Redneck Theology Test:  is it right? Would it be right if God told us to seek Him, then made it impossible for us to find Him or connect with Him? NO, it would NOT be right.

Are you uncomfortable with me saying it would not be right for God to hide His face from us? …Because we were taught that “God works in mysterious ways”?  And we’re not supposed to question God or His methods because “God’s ways are higher than ours”?

Ok, let’s look at that passage too –  It’s Isaiah 55:9. Let’s read 6 through 12 (for context):

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;

7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts;

let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,

and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

This passage is about God’s mercy, forgiveness and redemption – not about God hurting and confusing us, then pulling the “God card.”

And Psalm 103:8-12:

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

God’s mercy,  forgiveness,  redemption and steadfast love are greater than we can ever attain or imagine. God is NOT living a double standard, then excusing Himself with “Because I’m God, that’s why.”

Continuing Psalm 103:

13 “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust…

17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him…”

God, our good Father, is considerate of our vulnerability.

Relational distance hits us hardest when we are struggling.  Hurting.  Confused.  In need.  In despair.  When we are most vulnerable, this question of God’s nearness or distance MUST be answered.  I am horrified by some of the answers religion offers.

Does the Bible really say that our good, righteous, merciful Father sometimes ignores us?  Or that God, Who is love, doesn’t respond when His children need Him most? Is God a fair-weather friend?  A neglectful father?

I am an adult, but emotional distance from someone I love hurts me, even if it is for a short time.

Even secular organizations acknowledge that it is wrong to deprive a child of attention, affection and care.  Every resource I found on the topic of emotional abuse included the silent treatment in its list, whether addressing the abuse of adults or of children. When parents turn their faces away from their children, refusing to talk with them, it does not make the children stronger; it makes the children broken.  It causes attachment disorders and disrupts all their other relationships.

‘The silent treatment’ is a form of rejection.  It breaks our hearts.

Here’s another check from the Redneck Theology Test:  Is it loving to treat other people like that?  Or does this doctrine make God seem like a hypocrite?

Religion told me to seek God’s Face with all my heart; AND said that God would intermittently turn His Face away from me. I was SO ANGRY with God, because of that.

Ephesians 6:4 says

“…Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger…”

The truth is, as a good and righteous Father, God holds Himself to a higher standard than He sets for us – higher than the heavens are above the earth.


The doctrine of God’s distance misrepresents God’s character and insults His love and mercy.  It interferes with our ability to approach God, trust God, make ourselves vulnerable to God… or to worship Him.

God does not give us the silent treatment!  No, God speaks and listens to us!

God is not cruel.    No!  God is kind.

God is not abusive.  No!  God is gentle.

God does not break our hearts.  No!  God heals us.

Jesus is the One Who finally freed me from the bondage of this false doctrine. I observed carefully how Jesus, God the Son, treated people:  especially women, children and the vulnerable.

In Mark 10:13-16:

“…they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.
14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’
16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”

Jesus told His disciples repeatedly that we must become like little children to enter the kingdom of God. Therefore, I believe God treats us as little children should be treated. Jesus would NEVER turn His Face away from a little child, especially in desperate need.

How would our faith change if we believed that God always keeps His Face turned toward us?  What if we believed not only that God is always there, but that He is always there for us?

What if we understood that the Presence of His Holy Spirit in us means that He is ALWAYS present WITH us? If we are confident in God’s abiding and constant presence, will we get spiritually lazy?  Well, knowing that God will never turn His Face away from me has had the opposite effect on me and my faith!

God’s faithfulness draws me close to Him.  His love and help compel me to obey and serve Him.  His goodness makes me want to tell everyone about Him.

Now that I know God’s Face is always turned toward me, and His heart is completely for me, I have hope, peace and joy like I have never known before in my life. Previously, I served God in fear.  Now I serve Him with joyful trust!

Doctrines like this one blinded me to God’s perfect love.  But through the anointed touch of Jesus Christ, I finally see that my heavenly Father is GOOD.

No more begging the god of closed doors and cold shoulders.  No more groveling under an iron fist.  No more crying outside locked gates.

I am FREE and WELCOME to run boldly into the throne room of my Father, the King, knowing that His Face is toward me and His heart is for me.  My Father’s ears are OPEN and ATTENTIVE to my prayers and my cries.  His power protects and helps me.  His truth and wisdom guide me.  His love comforts and strengthens me.

I am EXCITED about His words to me in the Holy Scriptures.  The Bible is alive to me – I am alive to God’s word – like never before. I want to tell everyone how good God is.

In John 7:37 Jesus said,

“…“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive…”

Romans 5:1 says,

“since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Peace.  Not distance.

And verse 5

“…hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

God is not stingy with His Presence.  God is GENEROUS with His attention and His care!

In Deuteronomy 31 and 32, God does say that He will turn His face away from the wicked, who refuse to repent.  Ignoring God’s word and His care, some continue to rebel against Him.

Yet, God still pleads with the wicked to turn to Him. Isaiah 65:1-3 says,

“I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me;

I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.

I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was not called by my name.

2 I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people,

who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices;

3 a people who provoke me to my face continually…”

And verse 24:

“Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.”

God is eager for reconciliation!

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”  That is a promise.

The Redneck Theology Test also asks, Does it make sense? Would God the Son go to so much effort and through so much suffering to reconcile us to His Father, only for the Father to hide from us?

Or, How can God the Holy Spirit live in our hearts, then turn His face away from us? That does not make sense.

Psalm 27:7-9 says:

“Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!

8 You have said, “Seek my face.”

My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

9     Hide not your face from me…”

Jeremiah 29:11-14:

“11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare [peace] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord…”

GOD WANTS US TO FIND HIM. There is NEVER a time when God does not want us to find Him.

While a few passages in Scripture could be twisted to imply that God turns His face away from us, many more clearly assure us of God’s constant attention and considerate care. The doctrine of God’s distance does not square up with the truth of God’s character.

God does NOT turn His Face away from His children. God is always reaching to us with love and mercy.  That is the Gospel.  That is God’s good news.

His Face is turned toward you at all times, and His Spirit lives within you. You are walking in the constant Presence of your good, good Father.

Y’all stay close to your Daddy, you hear?


This blog post is based on Brenda’s sermon by the same name, which you can see here.





Go here to download your free Guide, How to Enjoy the Bible Again (when you’re ready) After Spiritual Abuse (without feeling guilty or getting triggered out of your mind). You’ll receive access to both print and audio versions of the Guide (audio read by me). I’m praying it will be helpful.

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