Dealing With Pent-Up Pain

My heart was stretched recently as I’ve watched a couple, dating for the past three years, experience a most painful breakup. Both care for each other immensely, and yet they are unsure of whether or not they can really make the relationship work.
Too  much baggage
Kelly and James have already gone through one divorce earlier in their lives. Now in their mid-thirties, both with two children, they truly love each other. Kelly is a vivacious, fun-loving woman, active in the community and her church and professionally savvy. She wants this relationship to work and is heartbroken with the breakup.
James too is suffering with the breakup. Having experienced a painful divorce several years earlier, he thought he had met the woman of his dreams. James works as the maintenance man for a local school district, and loves being around the youth as much as taking pride in keeping the school running.
Messy break-up
This is not the first breakup for James and Kelly. “We go through this every few months it seems,” James said sourly during a counselling session. “She gets mad at me for something and then pushes away.” “What happens when you two have a fight?” I asked.
“Same thing each time,” he shared. “She gets so angry with me, and I’ve got to admit that I get angry with her.”
“Yes,” I continued. “But it must be more than that. You can feel angry with each other and not break up.”
“You’d think so,” he said wryly. “But not with Kelly. She just gets so filled with hate and anger that it is all she sees in the relationship. So, she pushes away and says she has to think things over. Silence for days…I’m really getting tired of this.”
Don’t focus on the negative
I shared with James about how one of the most tragic mistakes a couple can make is to only see the negatives of the relationship during a fight. It is like having blinkers on, seeing only the painful aspects of the relationship and forgetting all the good. It takes skill and insight to “remember” the forgotten parts of the person with whom they fell in love.
The hurt become hurtful
It is also very common for people who are filled with hurt to become hurtful. It is like they are so filled up with unresolved hurt that an easy conversation can quickly turn into a heated fight because of the pent-up pain. We discussed some strategies for talking to Kelly and changing their patterns of interacting.
1. We must take responsibility for our hurt
Hurt cannot be ignored. Like an infection that leads to a spike in temperature, inflammation, aches and pains, hurt is a symptom of distress. Unruly emotions are often a companion to those experiencing relational distress.
David, the psalmist, struggling emotionally, shares: “Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress. My sight is blurred because of my tears. My body and soul are withering away. I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness. Misery has drained my strength; I’m wasting away from within.” Psalm 31: 9-10.

2. Share emotions effectively
There is a way to share emotions effectively. Blurting out unruly hurt is not an effective approach. We must be responsible in how, when and where we share our emotions. We must manage our emotions and share from a place of self-control. James and Kelly commonly got into heated battles, blew apart and then missed the good parts of their relationship.
Don’t try to solve problems when in the midst of heated emotions. Allow cooler heads to prevail before tackling a thorny problem. Don’t forget the trusted “time out.”

3. Take responsibility for your part in the crisis
While it is tempting to rehearse how you’ve been wronged, this only seems to amplify troubling emotions. Anger tends to perpetuate itself, and studies now show that indulging in anger seems to heighten your anger.
Focus on remedying your part in the struggle.

4. Be gracious
Your mate is usually not trying to hurt you. They are ‘hurt-full’, and thus become hurtful. If you can listen to their hurt and, more important, seek to soothe their painful emotions, you will renew your connection to them and help them work through their troubling feelings. Listen with grace, showing kindness and compassion.

5. Be in prayer about your relationship
God is faithful to show us the hidden things in our hearts if we prayerfully ask for wisdom and direction. Seek to understand yourself as well as your mate. As you settle emotionally, you’ll be in a better position to help your mate settle as well. 

Dr David Hawkins is the director of The Marriage Recovery Centre and has been helping couples in crisis restore their relationships for over 30 years

Christine Caine: Undaunted

On paper, Australian native Christine Caine has everything against her. She was abused by several men as a child. At age 30, she found out that she was adopted. Unnamed. Unwanted. Unclaimed.
Because of her past experiences, she struggled to establish meaningful relationships with others (especially men) and it was only through the grace of God and the perseverance of her then fiancé (now husband) Nick, that she broke that pattern. She had a miscarriage and battled for years with a crippling fear of flying (not ideal when you are a global speaker!).
A force to be reckoned with!
And yet despite all these obstacles, she has become a warrior for God, a weapon in His armoury against slavery and a force to be reckoned with! Today, as a wife and mom of two daughters, Christine is a glowing light in a world of dense darkness.
Today, anyone who has heard Christine speak, or read her incredible books would all the say the same thing: she is a funny, brave, outspoken powerhouse. An inspiring motivational speaker championing the cause of justice. She is a
dynamic, courageous fighter for freedom and is passionate about seeing God’s love spread to every person left for dead in the dark, dingy alleyways of life.
A life transformed by His power
Christine herself realises the magnitude of her testimony. She was lost, afraid, alone – and in that place God rescued her. He placed His Word in her heart and His love in her soul. And He guided her on the path of restoration. God took what the devil meant for evil, and turned it for good – so much so, that Christine is internationally recognised and lauded for her efforts in combatting human trafficking.
She didn’t always have a passion for this though…it was a moment of clarity one day in a Greek airport  seeing the many ‘Missing Persons’ posters that drove Christine to helping these lost girls.  Together with Nick, they established the A21 campaign (to abolish slavery in the 21st Century) and now several years on can rejoice in the fact that they are making a difference in ending this diabolical trade.
Rescuing the lost
It isn’t an easy task though and Christine shares: “One night I went to a gathering at the local A21 safe-house in Greece and sat in a room hearing the stories of women who had been tricked into slavery. For one girl, Nadia, it was a living nightmare. Girls in her poor Georgian village did not go to school beyond the second grade. They needed to learn only how to cook and clean, not to read and write. What man, after all, would want to marry a woman more educated than he? Nadia, an obedient daughter who desperately wanted to please her parents, tried to push aside her secret dream of becoming a nurse.
Yet embers remained in her heart. So, just three weeks before her seventeenth birthday, when a man approached her group of friends at their bus stop and told of opportunities to work in Greece, those embers began to glow brighter. The man told the girls that Greece was beautiful and that people prospered there. He said there were many good-paying jobs for waitresses, hairdressers, shop assistants and nurses.”
Encountering the broken
“For the next week, Nadia felt blinded by the light of opportunity. Her dream seemed so possible, so close. On Friday, she arrived early at the village community hall and found a seat in the front row. Several dozen other girls trickled in after her. Some men introduced themselves as agents and gave a compelling presentation of the opportunities in Greece. They promised a bright future.
After completing the paperwork, Nadia was met at the airport in Greece by a woman from a hiring agency who spoke no Russian. Nadia spoke no Greek. But despite that confusion, she went with the woman to an apartment building, where she was shown a room that she supposed would be hers.
Within minutes, her nightmare began. Several men rushed in and locked the door behind them. They beat and raped Nadia repeatedly. She tried to fight back. She screamed for help until she no longer had a voice. But for every protest, every scream, she received more abuse, more torture. For two weeks, the beatings and rapes continued.”
Sharing a message of hope
“Several weeks later, having being used as a sex slave, and no longer sure there was a God in Heaven, Nadia pleaded with Him anyway: “let me die!” No ember of her dreams remained.
One day when the guard left her room, he forgot to lock the window. Though her room was on the third floor of the apartment building, Nadia scrambled onto the balcony. She jumped. A woman passing by saw a girl throw herself from the third story balcony and crash onto the pavement below. Horrified, she ran to Nadia, who, miraculously, was uninjured. She was then taken to our A21 safehouse.”
As I sat there listening to Nadia’s story, I felt ill with disgust at what had happened to her. How can I make her understand, I wondered, that I too know what it is to be trapped, enslaved, with seemingly no way out, no way forward, no way back?
How can I make her see that, as bleak as her enslavement has been, there are prisons just as black inside oneself. How can I show her that there is a Rescuer, a Way of salvation  from this bleak future? I felt daunted by the prospect of even trying to make a difference. It seemed so overwhelming!”
Allowing God to heal
“As I travelled away from that meeting that day, I thought of my own story. If anyone ever had a reason to feel unqualified, to feel daunted, it was me. And the reason for that went back to things that happened before I was even born…
What do you do when you have been living all your life, more than three decades, with facts that you thought were true, only to discover that so many of them weren’t facts at all? Only to discover in your thirties [by accident due to an administrative bungle] that you were adopted?
I had a choice. I could be devastated by this revelation or I could receive the unconditional love of my Heavenly Father. I could be bitter, or I could  refuse to let this split my family. The day I learned I was unwanted, unnamed, the daughter of unknown, could have devastated me. And for a moment it did – until God reminded me that His Word means more than anyone else’s.
The very thing that the enemy uses to try to destroy your life is the very thing God uses to help others. God can heal every hurt and can turn your scars into signs of strength for His glory.”
We are part of His army
Now in her forties, Christine can truly say that God’s power has been made perfect in her weakness (2 Cor 12:9). And it is this very fact that spurs her on to tackling the minefield of injustice in the human slave trade, and calling others (like you and me) to join the battle.
“God’s heart beats for every lost person, every single second, of every single day. He misses the lost. There are so many who need rescuers, each of them is God’s missing treasure, His beloved. Whether they were kidnapped or tricked into slavery, or whether, like the prodigal son, they chose the wrong way…God calls us to love them back into His care. That’s what He wants us to remember: we, too, once were lost and now are found. And because we’ve been found, we are part of His search-and-rescue team. That day in the airport, and again in the room with those girls, and again when visiting Auschwitz, I felt God stir something in me. He was saying: “Christine I am going to awaken you to things you did not know were taking place. I am going to use you to rescue these girls. It was as if God nudged me to wake up from sleepwalking through life, to open my eyes to the living nightmare of others.”
How can ordinary people make a difference?
“My eyes, that day, were opened to how, by doing nothing when others suffer, we add to their injury. Where once I saw persecutors as in another place, of another time, I now saw myself standing beside them, while those suffer stare back at us. The oppressed do not see too much difference between those who would keep them down and those who do nothing to help. There is no in-between. We who live in privileged conditions don’t worry about basic survival. We don’t live in fear for our safety during the simple tasks of daily life. But this is not the way much of the world lives.
How often do you, as I used to, switch TV channels with your remote when the channel you’d been watching confronts you with some ugly tragedy – or even turn off the television lest you feel some guilt? The people living in those situations can’t turn off their pain or the reality of their circumstances as easily as we turn off our TVs. How could I have ever thought that this had nothing to do with me? Were these people not loved by God? Doesn’t God have a destiny in place for each one?”
Every day, there are situations in our normal routines that require us to be the light of Christ in darkness. Waking up spiritually is not just about participating in life-changing efforts of worldwide importance, such as stopping genocide. It is walking through our lives wide awake. It is rising ready where we are with what we have. It is seeing people where they are and meeting their need. Do something today!

To get involved with A21 globally or locally or for more info about human trafficking, see their website: 
Compiled by Jackie Georgiou

No More Spineless Christianity

The Apostle Paul not only confronted sin but named specific sins when he preached. Why can’t we?
People often complain about angry preachers. I don’t like them either, and I agree that if a person mixes a sermon with hateful language (or if he believes God has called him to picket other churches), he’s in the wrong profession. Yet today we’ve jumped to the opposite extreme – now we are afraid to confront sin.
Offending the congregation
We can’t preach about materialism because we might offend rich people in the audience, as well as the poor people who buy lottery tickets every week.
We can’t preach about fornication because there are people in the church who are living together. We can’t preach about domestic violence because there are deacons who sometimes hit their wives. We can’t preach about homosexuality because our culture says it’s hateful to call that a sin. And the list goes on.
In fact, some preachers are avoiding the word sin altogether because it’s too negative. And we all know that the latest polls show people want a positive message.
Do you dilute the Gospel?
This temptation to dilute the Gospel has produced a new recipe for a trendy sermon. We start with some great motivational speaking (“Your past does not define your future!”), add a few quarts of cheap grace (“Don’t focus on your sin!”), pour in some prosperity Gospel (“Run to this altar and grab your financial breakthrough!”), flavour it with some trendy pop psychology (“It’s all about you!”) and voila! you end up with a goopy mess of pabulum that not even a baby Christian could survive on.
Producing an anaemic church
I’ve often wondered how the Apostle Paul would view our “positive” Gospel. Just before he was martyred, Paul gave his spiritual son Timothy clear instructions on how to keep his message on track. He said: “Preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” 2 Tim 4:2.
We’ve rewritten Paul’s words today. Our rule is, “Preach what the people want to hear! Avoid controversy! Stroke, soothe and pacify the people so they will come back next week!” Is it any wonder that this low-protein spiritual diet has produced an anaemic church?
Be confrontational
Paul’s preaching in the first century was unquestionably confrontational. He didn’t hold back from addressing sin, nor was he afraid to call sin what it is. Paul knew that a spineless Christianity would produce spineless Christians. He told Timothy that Biblical preaching would require three brave verbs:
1. Reprove
The Greek word here, elegcho, means ‘to convict, admonish or expose’ or ‘to show one his fault.’ The word can also mean ‘to scold’ or ‘to reprimand.’
Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of a mother’s discipline knows that reproof can be the purest form of love.
2. Rebuke
The word epitimao means ‘to admonish strongly’ or ‘to charge strictly.’ The English definition means ‘to express sharp, stern disapproval.’ And the origin of the word means ‘to beat or strike.’
Screaming at people is not Biblical rebuke. But when was the last time you felt the Holy Spirit strike your conscience during a sermon?
3. Exhort
This is the gentlest of the three words. Parakaleo can be used to mean ‘to comfort’ or ‘to call alongside.’ It’s the same root word used to describe the Holy Spirit, who is our comforter.
True Biblical preaching not only exposes sin and warns us of its consequences, but it calls us to reach out to God for help to overcome our weakness. When we challenge sin we must provide a means of grace for deliverance and healing.
Calling sin by its name
I discovered that Paul confronted sexual sin head-on in ten of his thirteen epistles. He boldly called out adultery, fornication, sensuality and homosexuality in a culture that was saturated in hedonism.
After exhorting the Thessalonians to practice abstinence, he rebuked them sternly by saying that anyone who opposes God’s Laws about sex “is not rejecting man, but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.” 1 Thess 4:8.
Paul wasn’t trying to win any popularity contests, yet when he penned those tough words, he was speaking from God’s heart (with love) under the inspiration of the Spirit.
Be bold, not spineless
Let’s get rid of weak Christianity, spineless preachers and jellyfish morals. Let’s preach the message of the Bible, instead of a neutered version. Let’s not only point out sin, but also point people to the only hope they have of overcoming it – our strong Saviour, whose death on the Cross was the ultimate confrontation of sin. 
J. LEE GRADY is the former editor of Charisma and the director of the Mordecai Project ( You can follow him on Twitter at @leegrady.

The Orphan Spirit And The Spirit Of Sonship

Ever since Adam and Eve were alienated from God the Father in the Garden of Eden, an orphan spirit has permeated the earth, causing untold damage! (By “orphan,” I am referring to a sense of abandonment, loneliness, alienation and isolation). Almost immediately after the Fall in Eden, the fruit of this orphan spirit resulted in jealousy, culminating in Cain murdering his brother Abel.
The problems in society stem from an orphan spirit
To make matters worse, in contemporary society, with the breakup of the nuclear family, large amounts of people are not only alienated from God but are brought up without the loving care and security of their biological fathers.
I believe all of the emotional, physical and spiritual ills of society can be traced to humans feeling alienated from God and their biological fathers. Orphaned men have a hard time connecting to their spouses, their children, those in spiritual authority and their supervisors, and they have a hard time accepting and loving themselves. There are presently millions of incarcerated men who are acting out lives of violence and rebellion because their earthly fathers abandoned them.
There are churches filled with pastors and leaders who use people and destroy relationships because they are driven to succeed, and it’s due to their need for a father’s affirmation – which is a hole too large for person or accolade to fill.
People can only become sons of God through Christ
The orphan spirit is perhaps the greatest curse on the earth today. It will take spiritual parents with Christian maturity to break and reverse this curse to perpetuate a generational blessing. Only when a person is healed of fatherlessness through the love of God is the orphan spirit broken so they can begin the process of entering mature sonship.
Sonship is so important that all creation is crying out for the manifestation of the mature sons of God (Rom 8:19). The following eleven traits contrast the orphan spirit from the spirit of sonship:
1. The orphan spirit operates out of insecurity and jealousy. The spirit of sonship functions out of love and acceptance.
Those with an orphan spirit are constantly battling jealousy and insecurity, since security originates in a secure relationship with our parents. Those with an orphan spirit are so insecure, they even have a hard time hearing a biological or spiritual father praise their siblings or co-labourers. But those with the spirit of sonship are so secure in the Father’s love and favour that they’re content to serve in any capacity needed, whether or not they are in charge or celebrated in the process.
2. The orphan spirit serves God to earn the Father’s love. The mature son serves God out of a sense of Divine acceptance and favour.
Along these lines, those with an orphan spirit are constantly striving and trying to earn the Father’s love through accomplishment in ministry or career. Those with a spirit of sonship already know they are accepted in Christ and serve others out of the abundance of this acceptance.
3. The orphan spirit is jealous of the success of his brothers.
The mature son is committed to the success of his brothers.
Those with an orphan spirit are happy when their brother fails because it makes them feel good about themselves. On the other hand, those with the spirit of sonship joyfully commit themselves to serve, celebrate and help their brothers succeed, since they don’t work for human accolades but out of a deep sense of the love and affirmation of Father God.
4. The orphan spirit tries to medicate its deep internal alienation through physical stimulation. The mature son walks in the joy and presence of the Lord for comfort.
Those with an orphan spirit are constantly trying to push down their sense of alienation, loneliness and lack of self-worth through constant work, going from one relationship to the next, physical gratification and a life of narcissism and self-indulgence. However, the more they indulge, the more addicted they become and the larger the hole in their heart becomes, because only the love of the Father can fill the deep emotional needs they have.
Those walking in sonship bask in the presence and love of God and practice the joy of the Lord continually as their source of strength because they understand that grounding their security and self-life in anything other than God is like trying to build a house on sinking sand.
5. The orphan spirit uses people as objects to fulfil goals. Mature sons serve people.
Those with an orphan spirit tend to use people as objects to accomplish their goals.  Whenever we objectify people, we manipulate them with word threats, and anything necessary to have our way and control them.  Mature people who walk in sonship don’t use people; they serve and release people to fulfil their destiny in Christ.
6. The orphan spirit is driven by the need for success.
The Spirit leads the mature son into his calling and mission.

Many attempt to accomplish great things to satisfy the deep yearning in their hearts for the Father’s approval. This results in them being driven to succeed instead of being led by the Spirit. Many leaders get their churches into huge debt to build huge buildings, driving the people around them because they are blinded by their own innate feelings of inadequacy. They think they can feel good about themselves with great accomplishments. Only those with a strong sense of sonship will allow the Lord to direct them and bring opportunities to them without trying to drum up their own success.

7. The orphan spirit repels children. The spirit of sonship attracts children.
Leaders and parents with an orphan spirit are constantly in turmoil, fighting and striving for their own way, which gives their spiritual children the sense that their leader is in competition with them instead of loving them. This results in repelling spiritual and biological children, which can forfeit influence over the next generation! Those who walk in sonship, walk in the Father’s anointing and draw children toward them because their children hear the voice of a shepherd who cares for them.
8. The orphan spirit has anger and fits of rage. The spirit of
sonship rests in the Father’s ability to control and guide the future.
Those with an orphan spirit have issues with uncontrollable anger, fits of rage and other forms of manipulation because they feel they must control others and their circumstances in order to fulfil their goals. This is because they lack the trust necessary in their Heavenly Father to guide and control their future.
Those walking in sonship walk in the
Father’s rest and have ceased from their own works so the Father can have His way in their lives.
9. The orphan spirit is always in competition with others.
The spirit of sonship is always blessing others.
Those with an orphan spirit are always trying to outdo others in their church, family, business or denomination because they receive their identity through being better than everyone else. Those who walk in sonship are constantly seeing how they can bless others, since they already have the affirmation of God in their souls. They want to freely share His love with others.
10. The orphan spirit lacks self-esteem. The spirit
of sonship walks in the love and acceptance of God.
Those with an orphan spirit have a hard time loving and accepting themselves. Those walking in sonship are filled with a sense of Divine love and acceptance that enables them to walk confidently in the joy of the Lord, in spite of the fact that all humans are sinners and fall short of the glory of God.
11. The orphan spirit receives its identity through material possessions and physical appearance and activities. The spirit of sonship is grounded in the Father’s approval.
Those with an orphan spirit never have enough career success, material possessions, pleasure, or illicit relationships, to satisfy the hole in their heart related to their identity. Consequently, they are constantly striving to gain satisfaction through the use of various things or people in their lives. In many cases, even their form of dress – including an inordinate amount of tattoos, skin piercings and hairdos – can be their way of standing out as unique in a cry for attention due to a lack of self-esteem and fatherly affirmation.
Those who walk in sonship are so grounded in their Divine Father’s affirmation that they can be satisfied serving in the background and can celebrate the success and attention others receive. The void in their soul has already been filled with the unconditional love of the Father.
In conclusion, the greatest gift known to humankind is to accept, receive and walk in the love of the Father, who so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that we may not perish, or waste our lives away, but experience the abundant life that only our Divine Father can give. 

Joseph Mattera has been in full-time ministry since 1980 and is currently the presiding bishop of Christ Covenant Coalition and the overseeing Bishop of Resurrection Church in New York, a congregation of 40 nationalities. For more see: