Patterns and People that Bind ~ negative soul ties

Gate, Old City, Jerusalem
A remaining gate in the Old City, Jerusalem

 

And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. ~ Acts 3:2, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

 

We all have (or have had) patterns in our lives and relationships with people that bring (or brought) no, or very few positives into our lives.

This man in the Scripture was lame all of his life and was carried every day to the Gate they called beautiful in order to beg. He could not go into the Temple because he was not whole and in those days there were strict rules about wholeness and health. He had no access to what ‘normal’, successful people had access to, the inside of the Temple.

Usually we look at the man himself, but I wonder who were the ones who carried him every day to beg for alms? Were they corrupt greedy men who got a portion of what alms he acquired every day? Or, were they family and friends who could only see him as lame and with good intentions brought him to do what they thought was the only thing he was able to do? In either case, these were enablers with negative soul ties to the man.

This man had a negative pattern. He allowed himself to be carried to the gate to beg. Jesus came to him to break that pattern that had him bound. We all have or have had patterns that bind or have bound us. For some it’s alcoholism, gambling, pornography, self-mutilating, allowing physical abuse to continue, over eating (something prevalent in the church), anorexia, compulsive spending, overwhelming credit card debt. For others it might be excessive cleaning, or excessive running every morning even though pounding the pavement is injuring legs and feet. In these last two, the operative word is excessive.

What people do we have in our lives who enable us to be less than, support a very limited self-concept of ourselves? What patterns do we have that put walls up around us that might even look like a safety net, but keeps us bound. We all know, or secretly suspect what those things are. And before we take a step and do anything about them, we should ask the Holy Spirit to clarify who and what they are. We should pray about this, and whatever steps we take to get free of the limitations placed on us by others and the limitations of our own negative patterns should be done under the leadership of the Lord. And that will mean, there will be Scripture that supports what direction we feel led to take.

If a person has one of the patterns listed above, it’s quite possible the Holy Spirit will lead you to break the behavior off immediately and to speak with your pastor or a trusted leader in the church. The Holy Spirit may lead you to a treatment program, to Alcoholics Anonymous, to a weight loss group, to an accountability partner in the Church, or the like. Go, go, get help to break whatever pattern/habit/addiction is binding you. Take a step and then another step and then another out of bondage.

In the case of people who are enablers…if you are an alcoholic and a person is giving you alcohol, tell them to stop. If they won’t, cut them off. The same applies if you’re addicted to pornography or gambling, etc. and all your friends are into it too. Cut them off. These are super-negative soul ties. The end of the road with these ‘major’ addictions is sad, very sad. Often it’s jail, insanity, or untimely death. If you’re bound by one of these major addictions you must take immediate, firm, committed steps to get free. You also should have a human support system and the Holy Spirit can lead you to a good one. Please do NOT expect perfection from your human support system. Expect very human, caring support, capable of mistakes or being in error…while they hope they are supporting. There will be people in support groups who have become Pharisaical. Just pray for them.

Forgiveness is key. I’ve had to forgive people who were enablers, manipulators, and controllers in my life, people who sought to use me, people who were toxic. I’ve had to forgive them to be set free of them. This will be a constant. We will also have to forgive good, supportive people we add to our lives as we grown. They are only human. Remember, the final word on situations in our lives are not people, not matter how supportive. The One with the final Word is the Lord.

For perfect love and guidance turn often to the Lord.

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. ~ Matthew 6:33, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

Edgy Christian Fiction Just Ain’t That Edgy Anymore ~ Tracy Krauss and I Simul-Post on Each Other’s Blogs

Tracy KraussWow, Tracy and I have been saying we’re going to have this discussion on this blog for quite a while. Somehow real life kept getting in the way, but I’m glad we’re finally getting to it. This might also be a good place to announce that the two of us are taking over the Edgy Christian Fiction site. We are just beginning to get out sea-legs there, so the site will be undergoing some visual changes in the near future, but its spirit will remain the same. http://edgychristianfictionlovers.ning.com/

 

Now let’s get on to the discussion…

 

NikePixNike: It seems the subject has come up naturally in our emails for quite a while now of how “edgy Christian fiction” doesn’t seem so scary to many Christian readers and writers anymore. Isn’t that right Tracy? We’ve noticed traditional publishers who, five or more years ago, had unbendable rules about certain taboos are now more relaxed in that area. Of course, Christian writers making a beeline to publish as indie authors has pushed the envelope. And to my mind, that’s the true definition of edgy…pushing the edge of the envelope into deeper, more complex and troubling issues.

 
Unless we live in isolation and in a totally Christian bubble, the culture and the times are influencing Christian writers. Many of us have experienced societal problems in our own families – things that as recently as in the 1990s and the early 2000s, most American Christians did not face. If our teenage and pre-teen children and grandchildren are not sexually active, they have classmates in public school who are. If they are not experimenting with drugs, they know kids in the neighborhood who are. They have intimate knowledge about sexuality in their teen years that many of us didn’t have until after our marriage. For these and other reasons, it is no longer possible for some Christian authors to write novels that do not have somewhat edgy themes or sub-themes. I am one of those authors. My historical novels, and my contemporary, HARMFUL INTENT, which just released, are sweet in the romance department with a few warm intimacy moments, but as they’re whodunits, they have gritty police procedural elements. They also encompass adult issues (such as child abuse, abortion, adultery, substance abuse) in a tasteful manner.

 

Ribbon, silver
Tracy: I totally agree with everything you’ve said, Nike. Society isn’t he same anymore and it is unrealistic to expect to reach the modern demographic – Christian or otherwise – if we are hamstrung by outdated rules and regulations. I am not saying that authors should purposely cross any lines simply for the sake of doing so. It’s not about compromising our faith or even lowering moral standards. The Bible is clear about what is acceptable behavior for Christians. However, because of societal pressure, more and more people – even Christians – find themselves in unsavory situations. These are stories that need to be told. People make mistakes. Growing spiritually is a journey and with today’s pressures people have an even harder time sticking to the straight and narrow.

 
For instance, my husband and I were talking the other day about how things have changed since our parents’ generation. My parents (at least to my knowledge) never had any experience with drug use. Growing up in the sixties and seventies, we both have plenty of experience and would be hard pressed to find anyone we know of that same generation who hasn’t. I remember seeing a scandal on TV during the nineties when a well known politician revealed that he had smoked pot as a university student. There were calls for his resignation. That kind of response would be laughed at today. Who didn’t smoke pot in university? (I know I did.) It’s not something I am particularly proud of, but it’s just a fact.

 
The same goes for sex. Kids are experimenting with sex at a younger and younger age. I teach secondary school, and again, I would be hard pressed to find a virgin past the tenth grade. I even know several girls who have experimented with same sex relationships because this has now become almost cool. It’s mainstream. None of their peers bat an eye. The response is, “How else am I supposed to know if it’s for me?” While this is an unfortunate lie of the devil, it is also the new reality. Even Christian kids and young adults are having trouble standing up to the pressure.

 

Ribbon, silver

 
Nike: You so nailed it. Whether it be through public school sex ed classes, or what passes for PG-13 movies, kids today know a great deal about sex. What they’re getting from media and their friends is often presented in an extremely crass manner. There’s nothing lovely about it. I’m hearing from my 16 year-old exactly what you mentioned about same sex experimentation among girls…that it’s thought to be cool. And let’s be honest. The boys are excited by it. And the school tells the girls it’s perfectly appropriate to experiment in that way.

 

 
An increasing number of Christian authors have been called to write novels in such a way so that Christians who are facing these difficult issues with their own children and grandchildren can find comfort, be uplifted, and not feel so alone. Often those in the pews are hiding these problems from their fellow church goers. Even though many of them are going through the same issues, they dare not share the burden because of shame. This is an area where Christian fiction can break new ground and minister to those in the body of Christ who are hurting.

 

Wind Over MarshdaleTracy: I love what you just said about Christian fiction being a vehicle to minister to the body of Christ. This is exactly what I feel called to do in my writing. I am a firm believer that fiction can be a powerful tool. I have been ministered to by various books I’ve read, as I’m sure you have, too. (Frank Peretti always comes to mind. I’m still his number one fan! Francine Rivers is another writer whose books have had a profound impact.) Most of the time I try not to compare myself to what others are doing, but once in awhile I feel inadequate – like my work is shallow or too romantic or not theological enough… or whatever. Then I get feedback from readers saying that they identified with a certain character or have gone through a similar circumstance and I know that God is using my words. Even if the impact is felt by only a few, it is still ministry. Not every church has thousands of members.

 
Whether I am the right person to minister to the teens we talked about earlier is still up for debate. In all honesty, I doubt it. So far my audience has been more along the lines of thirty – somethings to fifty-somethings and that’s okay with me. The point isn’t so much the target audience as the fact that society has changed – for everyone. There are people who need to know they are not alone in facing some of the issues that plague our current culture. These could be recent converts, backslidden Christians, or people disillusioned with playing ‘church’. I seem to come across more and more of the latter these days and that tells me something. People are searching but they are tired of the status quo.

 
One of the things I’ve tried to do over the years in my writing is avoid giving pat answers. (Other than the fact that Jesus is the answer. Period.) Working through the rest of life’s problems will be messy. Even ‘good Christian’ families have struggles that might surprise if shared openly. My husband and I used to pastor a church and believe me, our family is not perfect by any stretch. In essence this is what the whole ‘edgy’ debate is about. Accepting people where they are at, allowing them to see that they are not alone, and finally, pointing them toward the one who can support them along the journey.

Harmful Intent, Amazon Lg

 

Nike: I have a background in public relations. I worked mostly in the bridal industry, but also for a private college. The rule of thumb is that for every one letter or email received, there were ten other individuals who were impacted but did not write. I’ve gotten feedback that the characters in my novels, warts and all, feel like real people with real struggles. I also have a readership of mostly women from 30-something to 50-plus. But these are the very women who are often struggling with children and grandchildren facing these issues…in a day and age when parental authority is being pushed aside. And these women are struggling with marital issues, adultery, divorce.

 
Yes, most definitely, Jesus is the answer to all problems, but a lot of people can’t seem to wrap their minds around that. This is where a good story as a vehicle can help. I’ve been told by Christian nay sayers that the crime scenes in my whodunits are a tad too gritty. I can assure everyone that what I describe isn’t even close to the reality police detectives, CSI, and EMS personnel see at a real murder scene. I’ve also been told murder mysteries can’t minister. They’re simply entertainment, and often dark entertainment. It’s my firm belief that at the heart of all crime fiction (Christian suspense and the most worldly general fiction thrillers) is the struggle between good and evil. My novels are a bit of a warning, wrapped up in a good story with lots of humor. I also try to depict ordinary, decent people struggling against evil. Many non-Christians as well as backsliders were finally able to submit to the Lord after a total awakening to gross evil. They saw raw, gross evil, admitted Satan was real, and then were forced to admit a Holy God was real.

 

Ribbon, silver
Tracy: As a ‘fan’ of your work, I don’t think your crime scenes are too graphic by any means, Nike. I wonder if these critics have read Ted Dekker? He is rarely blatant about the gospel message, but the ‘good vs. evil’ theme definitely resonates and this does speak to people.

 

 
I think my own writing is edgy in terms of the moral failings that the characters have to work through. (Pornography, promiscuity, drugs and alcohol abuse…) I’ve also tackled potentially controversial topics like the occult, native spirituality, and intelligent design. I don’t try to wrap these issues up neatly since I don’t presume to have all the answers. Instead, my goal is to make people think; make them ask questions and potentially investigate the topic further. For instance, my first novel AND THE BEAT GOES ON is about a scientist who comes across evidence for creation and then has to grapple with his believes about the origins of the universe. I’ve had a lot of feedback from readers saying they like the way the book asks more questions than it answers. One lady wrote me a hand written letter because she didn’t have a computer, but expressed her appreciation for the way I addressed the issue of intelligent design without trying to ‘explain’ everything. Another woman of native ancestry commended the frankness with which I addressed smudging in WIND OVER MARHSDALE, while another said she identified so strongly with the character of Joleen in MY MOTHER THE MAN-EATER because of her own checkered past that she bought a copy for her sister-in-law, a non-Christian who also had a similar past.

 

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Nike: Life is not easy by any means. The technological age has brought many vices into our homes. With a click of the TV wand, or a click of the mouse we can be face-to-face with full frontal nudity…and if we don’t have parental guidelines locked into place, so can our children. Teens plan and engage in gang-bullying via the internet. Church goers may find their child or grandchild is the victim of this bullying, or is part of the gang out of fear if he/she isn’t she/he will be the next victim.

 
Christians who are facing these issues no longer want to feel like pariahs within their churches. They don’t want to have to pretend any longer they’ve got the perfect Christian family. Many backsliders left because they did feel like outcasts. I hope my novels can reach them. I hope my stories can reach seekers who have more questions than they have answers about God, the meaning of life, and what it’s all about.

 

 

Purchase Links:
WIND OVER MARSHDALE: Amazon http://amzn.to/1j1ceE8
HARMFUL INTENT: Amazon http://amzn.to/SsPthK