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Recognize, Understand and Reject Spiritual Abuse

I’m a Christian. I love God. I read the bible. I go to church…but, I’m abusing you.

The reality is, someone doesn’t have to hit you, molest you, or even shout at you to hurt you. The enemy is cunning, deceptive, and he specializes in using things God intends for good, and using them to steal, kill and destroy, to do damage to our souls, and do damage to the body of Christ.

This is going to be an uncomfortable conversation.

This is going to be an uncomfortable conversation, because although it often flies under the radar, spiritual abuse is deeply imbedded in many parts of the Body of Christ globally, as well as in our American church culture, and as believers, we are all likely guilty of it at some level.

It’s especially likely that those of us who lead in churches and ministries have allowed ourselves to exhibit spiritually abusive behaviors, and we need to recognize it, repent and install guard rails in our leadership to protect our people from our own unhealthy tendencies. So, whether you are a victim or a perpetrator, or, as is most likely, both, I pray these thoughts are truthful, helpful, and loving, and that they help us live and lead for Jesus most faithfully.

At the core of abuse we always find control.

Let’s define abuse as ‘the improper treatment of a person or people, often to gain some sort of improper benefit’. Abuse takes many forms; including physical, verbal, sexual, mental, and as we’ll see here, spiritual. At the core of abuse, we nearly always find the abuser grasping for some sort of control. In the same way that a physical abuser uses violence to instill fear and thereby control those they abuse, or a sexual abuser receives fulfillment from dominating and controlling their victims, a spiritual abuser uses spiritual things to manipulate and control their victims. Spiritual language, religious cultural tensions, shame or fear based manipulation, the threat of rejection or shunning, can all be tools of spiritual abuse.

The two primary settings for spiritual abuse, sadly,  are the two most sacred gifts God’s given us as human beings, the family and the church. Many husbands and wives that love each other and love Jesus, find themselves spiritually wounding one another, attempting to do what’s right, but struggling for control and stability in their relationship. Christian parents who deeply love their children, and desire to see them follow Christ and grow in their faith, can unintentionally, spiritually wound their children, when biblical truth isn’t imparted in healthy, helpful ways.

Some spiritual abuse is unconscious, in that it naturally emerges from unhealthy patterns of doing family or doing church that we’ve learned and tend to duplicate, as we reproduce the environments we developed in. Some spiritual abuse, however, is conscious, and deliberate. Christian faith, and spiritual principles (appropriately) run deep, and can become powerful weapons, when wielded to control and manipulate and hurt those who don’t comply or obey.

Here’s a key thought…

When those who are participants in abusive patterns of living, adopt religious beliefs and values, but do not receive healing, correction, and transformation in these areas, they simply continue in the abusive patterns with ‘spiritual things’ as their new weapons of abuse and control.

Abuse can spring from a leader’s ambition.

In some church cultures, spiritual abuse and manipulation are business as usual, a way of simply getting things done. In these cultures, people are motivated by spiritual fear to give, participate or comply, while the non-compliant are shamed and rejected, further instilling the fear in those who remain. Even churches with sound theology and biblical instruction, can slip into abusive patterns, if there is not a safe environment for dialogue and a system of checks and balances for leaders. Often,  churches and leaders burn those serving out, in pursuit of their goals and vision. As spiritual leaders, we are absolutely mandated by God to protect those we lead from our own ambition, anything less is abuse.

There are many ways in which spiritual abuse can manifest, and it demands that we as believers and leaders, take an honest look at ourselves, our leadership, our roles as parents, husbands, wives and friends. I pray that we can receive the healing and the growth that we need to be healthy life giving people and leaders. The good news, is that there’s healing, forgiveness, and restoration for those who have been a part of a spiritually abusive culture. The grace of God in Jesus Christ is sufficient to heal, deliver and make new the hearts and minds of those who the enemy has wounded through spiritual abuse, whether they are the victim or the initiator or both.

Power, love and self-control.

Paul told Timothy, a young man he was training to lead God’s people, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power, love and self-control.”

It’s important we recognize if we’re being manipulated by others through spiritual fear, manipulation and abusive tactics, and to then confront, establish distance and clear boundaries, but above all to get help. Reaching out to a wise friend, Christian counselor, pastor, mentor, or spiritual leader who is not involved in the abusive culture is a great place to start.

It’s also up to us as those in positions of influence in our homes, in our marriages, and in our churches, to recognize when we are leading by fear, manipulation or with abusive tendencies. It’s up to us to recognize, invite and receive correction, and cultivate health in our relationships, the souls and spiritual health of our spouses, our kids, those we lead and ourselves depends on it.


This article is the 1st in a 3 part series…look for the next 2 installments in the coming months.

Part 2 Religious Abuse vs Gospel Freedom.

Part 3 Shutting the Door on Spiritual Abuse.



Dalton and Sylvia, his wife of 16 years, live and pastor in Republic, Mo




How To Preach So People Will Listen

I notice that many Christians and ministers in particular, seem to have a chip on their shoulder about people that “refuse to hear the truth” and “just want everything sugar coated”. Let me say that I understand that the minds of sinful humans are…well, sinful and proud and prone to reject the truth, and carnal men desire carnal things, not spiritual.

But sometimes I think that we beat up our listeners and our congregations in response to a “lack of listening” that stems from poor preaching or lack of ‘relational capitol’. The primary burden of communication isn’t on the listener, it’s on the speaker. To get angry at people because they aren’t listening and show it with your tone and word choice isn’t going to make them more likely to listen, rather less. The reality is that there are ways you can cultivate receptivity in your listeners…

1) Spend time establishing relationship which produces as sense of common ground, trust and the fact that they matter to you.

2) Cultivate and model an atmosphere where the Holy Spirit is free to move and open peoples hearts to the Word in your services (pray and let God move).

3) Let the Lord develop you as a communicator, don’t be too proud to adjust your approach. Style isn’t sacred. Rapport with your listeners is non negotiable, to ignore that concept is arrogance. However, approach will look different in different cultures (north, south east, west, mid-west, urban, rural, ethnic, etc…)

4) Submit your preaching attitude to the basic building blocks of Christian character. If people walk away from our messages not having sensed the fruit of the Spirit in us ( whether they know what that is or not), how can we say we’ve been Christlike in the pulpit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control….go a long way toward cultivating a willingness to listen.

Stop blaming your listeners, take responsibility for relating to them, facilitating an encounter with God’s presence, grow as a communicator, and be Christlike in the pulpit…..It will help.

Duck Diagnosis


I’m a Christian…..I’m a pastor…..I’m relatively politically conservative.

I don’t particularly like Duck Dynasty.

Not because I don’t like the Robertsons, or hunting or fishing or Jesus…But because I don’t have cable, and I don’t really like ‘reality tv’.

I LOVE what the show stands for however, because I think it’s great that America is able to see what a real life, Christian family looks like from the inside. I firmly believe that the show is making a positive difference in our culture.

The recent ‘indefinite’ suspension of Phil Robertson, the show’s patriarch, because he shares his agreement with Biblical instruction concerning sexuality in GQ magazine that prints in January 2014 concerns me.

Not just because I agree with his stance, but because, I think we need to wake up to the reality that we can no longer expect the government, laws, media or American society to affirm the proclamation of Biblical morality.

We need to stop treating America like a big church that has simply drifted in it’s theology, that we can call “back to her roots.”

This country is not a faith community that we are simply called to morally police, it is a mission field full of people who do not know Jesus and thus do not care what the Bible says. Furthermore, they will not care until they’re born again.

We’re called by God to preach the gospel of Jesus to every nation, and we need to start with our own.

The Constitution is a great foundation for governing our nation, but it is not the Bible, it is not inerrant, it was written by fallible human beings, and thus we cannot expect it to supernaturally protect us from being persecuted for our Faith.

Democracy is beautiful, government for the people, of the people, by the people, but it is a double edged sword, because ultimately it reveals the character of a people. 250 years has pulled back the curtain on who we really are–a people who need Jesus, just like the rest of the world.

So don’t be fooled America, the solution is not simply political, it’s the Gospel.

We are who we are, and only Jesus can change us.

Pastor Dalton

Pastor Dalton

Can Pentecost Survive in the 21st Century?

Can it?

Can a message that was born in the 1st century culture still be relevant, significant and necessary in the 21st century? Many “Pentecostal” churches say no, and have omitted the Pentecostal distinctives from their teaching, preaching, practices and doctrinal statements.

In response to this, I have on my heart to post an article focusing on what’s going to be necessary for the blessing, strength and power of Pentecost to remain in our churches and ministries in the 21st century. And why eliminating the operation of the Holy Spirit from our churches is the LAST thing we should be doing in our attempts to reach this generation.

As i study Acts 2–I feel 3 things emerge that have To happen for Pentecost to survive and thrive this in this generation. These things are vital to being a Pentecostal church—and being a Pentecostal people in the 21st Century.

I was 15 years old—when Jesus got a hold of my life and saved me and filled me with the Holy Spirit—and called me to the ministry—and I have a heart to see him do it again—and again—and again. I know many of you share that same heart, but it won’t happen by accident—it won’t happen by random chance—and it won’t happen by good intentions alone. The Pentecostal message is unique in that it must be intentionally taught—and deliberately modeled.

1 Corinthians 4:20 tells “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power“. So we have to do more than SAY we’re Pentecostal—we have to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in the actions of Pentecost—the fruit—the gifts the distinctives that make us who we are.

As I studied the Acts 2 account—3 things began to emerge about what will be necessary for us to remain practicing Pentecostals in the 21st century and impart Pentecost to future generations.

First, We Have To Be A Good Investment. No one in their right mind invests their resources in a failing company—that’s headed for disaster. The Disciples on the day of Pentecost were a good investment for God to pour his spirit out on, because they  were about the fathers business. The day we stop preaching salvation through Jesus is the day we are out of the Fathers business—the day the Day the Holy Spirit will depart from us and leave us barren.

God will not empower a carnal church—with a carnal gospel—that prays carnal prayers. We must be striving to reach the lost—we must be proclaiming the gospel– that “you must be born again-through the cross of Jesus Christ”–we must be making disciples—we must be a good investment for God to pour out his Spirit in out midst. Why would God pour out his Spirit on a church that wasn’t concerned with reaching the lost? It would be a bad investment. The promise of Pentecost is a conditional one. Conditional that we stay on mission.

Show me a church that is not reaching the lost—and not preaching the gospel—and not making disciples and I’ll show you a church that’s faking it—when it comes to Pentecost. Because glorifying the Savior is what the Spirit does—& if we’re not in the business of proclaiming Jesus as savior— don’t expect the authentic power of God to be present. We must continue to be a good investment, for God’s Holy Spirit anointing to be present in our lives and churches.

Secondly, we have to engage the Holy Spirit as the source of supernatural creativity. The Bible tells us in Genesis and Psalms, that the entire person of God were active in the creation of the universe—Father, Son, Holy Spirit. In other words, God the Holy Spirit is the most creative personality on the face of the planet. Now the Holy Spirit lives in the hearts of every Christian. In other words–Pentecostals, people of the Spirit, should be the most creative people on the planet.

Sometimes in the church– we have the mindset that the Holy Spirit can only move and operate the way he did 20-30-40 years ago—that he’s bound in a style or a tradition or a culture. But that’s not the Holy Spirit I see in Acts 2—it says the Spirit enabled the disciples to speak in the native languages of the people—the languages they spoke as a child— the languages that they prayed in –the languages they dreamed in—I can’t think of anything more creative for the HOLY SPIRIT to do

What this tells me is that—-If we’re obeying the Holy Spirit we’re going to be creative—if were ministering under the power of the Holy Spirit we’re going to do ministry creatively—we’re going to do things that have never been done

So often—we let the world create cultureand we do one of 2 things—1) We try to copy it and we end up just having a second rate version of what the world has—or 2) we completely reject it and we seem unengaged, oblivious to what the real world is like.

Both of these responses get us in trouble—and both of these can kill the church of tomorrow if we’re not careful.  Because #1 we’re called in Romans 12 not to be conformed to the pattern of this world—but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. HEAR ME—we are not called to copy the world’s culture and values and ideas—we are called to create in the power of the Holy Spirit a culture that transforms the world.

And #2 if we completely reject everything everyone outside of the church is doing–we miss ideas that God wants to redeem—we alienate people that Jesus wants to save—and fill with his Spirit.

The most dynamic soul winning Spirit filled churches—the ones where the Spirit of God is moving in power and doing miracles and transforming cities and nations are churches that are on the cutting edge of creating culture. Not b/c they’re copying the world’s ideas—But because the HOLY SPIRIT is giving His church better ideas. If we’re going to be a spirit filled people—that are effective in the 21st century—we have to realize that that means—creating culture—instead of copying it—or God forbid ignoring it.

Why is creativity so important? Acts 2 Say the Spirit enabled the disciples to speak the NATIVE languages of the people gathered for Passover. That’s significant—for any of you that speak a 2nd language—most people continue to dream in the language they spoke as a child—in private they tend to pray in that same language—bc it’s who they are. It’s the language they approach God in. It’s the language that they comprehend the best. We must learn to communicate the Gospel—in the ‘language’ of the people we’re trying to reach. The language they approach God in—the language they dream in.

And the first language of this generation is CREATIVITY.Its the language they dream in—it’s the language they approach God in. The young people of this generation–will draw more pictures—take more photographs–write more songs—invent more products—they will write more books—they will CREATE MORE than any other generation in the HISTORY of the world has ever created. The language they speak is creativity. It’s how they approach God.

And that’s good news for us as Pentecostals—as people of the Spirit—BC the HOLY SPIRIT is the most creative personality on the planet.  If we’re serious about reaching young people—-we must engage the Lord for an authentic move of His Holy Spirit.

Because–the young people of this generation will not be tolerate a lip-service Pentecost—authentic Pentecost is practical—it is powerful—it is focused on Jesus and it is creative. If Pentecost is going to be what God called it to be in the 21st –preparing the world for the final harvest:1)       We must be a good investment—and be about preaching Jesus to the lost. 2)       We must engage the HS as the source of Creativity—-and lastly–3) We have to realize that Christianity in general and Pentecost in specific is intergenerational in nature

Acts 2:39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

My great grandparents Prentice and Ella Pry were saved—and filled with the HS in 1939 at an Assembly of God camp meeting in Leora, Mo—they were passionate Pentecostal people. Grandma Ella once told me about a prayer meeting—where they felt led to pray for future generations that they would know the Lord and be filled with His Spirit. It sends chills down my spine that what God is doing in my life has been affected by what happened 80 years ago in a prayer meeting.  When’s the last time we were that in tune—and that creative–in the Lord—to look 80 years ahead and see a great-grandson that needed the power of the Holy Spirit—and to pray for Him to be poured out?

We must pass down the Pentecostal legacy to young people. We must make ut about the Gospel being preached, we must do it with supernatural, Holy Spirit inspired creativity, and we must cross generational barriers to do it.

Lets make it happen.

Pastor Dalton

Pastor Dalton

One of the Most Life Changing Messages I Have Heard in a Long Time

One of my favorite all time messages by my favorite speaker Pastor Judah Smith.

Pastor Dalton

Pastor Dalton

Do I As A Christian Have Answers For People Dealing With Homosexuality?

I don’t like to apply the word homosexual to people.

Because I feel like it assumes that for some people at least, homosexuality is inherent, that it’s something that must be accepted about people. It gives people an out–an alternate identity–where there really isn’t one—it allows someone to label themselves and say—I’m a homosexual or I’m gay, and that’s just the way it is—I can’t be changed—God must have made me this way. When in reality, the bible teaches us that a homosexual lifestyle is a wrong response to a specific temptation. I feel a more proper way to define people who have been labeled or have self identified as homosexual, is instead to say that they are someone who experiences some level of “same-sex attraction”.

So…..What does the bible say about same-sex attraction? 

A lot. Way too much to unpack in one article. But let’s take a look at one piece of scripture:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I want you to change your thinking for a second—b/c just like not everyone who has been tempted by alcohol becomes an alcoholic—and not everyone who has been tempted by lust becomes an adulterer…

I want to challenge you to consider that not everyone who has been tempted with attraction to the same-sex—has begun to practice homosexuality—or live a homosexual lifestyle. Not everyone who has experienced homosexual orientation takes that as an indicator that they are “wired” to live a homosexual lifestyle.

If this is confusing, let me help you understand—the word orientation applies so well here—because it’s a geometric term describing which direction something is pointed.

We were wired by God to be relational—one of the physical expressions of relationship is sexuality. Everyone was wired to relate and then to mate–with someone. In Genesis—God made humans anatomically and sexually male and female–so that the expression of relationship—the expression of sexuality could produce LIFE.

God created man and woman and pointed them toward one another–He oriented man toward woman and woman toward man—to complement one another.

The female emotions are designed to complement the male emotions. i.e. Spaghetti and Waffles. The male anatomy is designed to complement the female anatomy. To make one flesh. The natural result of becoming one flesh—sexual intimacy—is to produce life .

One of the reasons homosexuality is not ok is b/c it doesn’t pass this biblical test–it doesn’t–it cannot-produce life.

I want you to think of sexual orientation like this: 


Have you ever played the game Twister?

Part of the game involves a spinning wheel—that you spin to determine what color you are supposed to touch next. The pointer is a “free moving, spinning stick type thing”. The idea is to push the “thing” and it moves around and points you to your next move.

In the garden, God created Adam and pointed him toward goodness/righteousness in every area including sexuality–he pointed man to woman and woman to man for the purpose of relationship. Sin came and infected the heart mind and nature of mankind–allowing us to be pointed in the wrong direction. Then enemy knows this– and he uses his influence to bump us—knock us—point us in a direction that we weren’t designed to go in. One of these directions is same-sex attraction.

What are the things that can bump a person out of our created sexual orientation?  These things don’t always—but it can happen.  Sexual abuse—can mark someone’s sexuality. Exposure to pornography–to sexual images or emotions before you are ready. A lack of healthy connection with a father or mother can cause people to seek the attention of a person that fills that void—that affection they are seeking can be mistaken for sexual attraction.

Sometimes if a guy seems to have a feminine voice or a feminine manner—or a girls seems to have a manly voice or a manly swagger—people will literally begin to label them–they will begin to identify their personality with how the media depicts homosexuals, and they will literally start to believe that those things make them more male or more female.

The enemy, Satan—plays off of these wounds—he plays off of these insecurities—he plays off of these unmet needs.–And He uses them to tempt people. To Manipulate people. To try to deceive people. They’ve been bumped in their orientation—and their temptation switches gears to instead of just being tempted sexually—they’re tempted by the same-sex.

And bc so often we don’t know the word of God–People assume that because they’re attracted to–or tempted sexually by a person of the same gender that that makes them gay. And that is the LIE of the enemy—that causes so many people to decide to live a homosexual lifestyle.

But just like the temptation to alcoholism and drunkenness is not a sin and can be overcome…

Just like the temptation to commit adultery is not a sin and can be overcome—before it becomes sin…

Just like the temptation to steal is not a sin, and can be overcome before it becomes sin…

The temptation itself to desire someone of the same sex is not a sin-& it can be overcome—before it becomes sin.

How do you know? I’m struggling—someone I know is struggling—someone I love—a brother/sister, friend…..I want to take us back to the scripture:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 —Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

We see from the scripture that Jesus delivered some of the Corinthian believers from immorality and idolatry and thievery, and drunkenness and yes, even the practice of homosexuality

He says—-such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Jesus is the answer to greed—Jesus is the answer to idolatry—Jesus is the answer to adultery—Jesus is the answer to sexual immorality—AND YES Jesus is the answer to homosexuality.

If you are dealing with same-sex attraction, know this, Jesus loves you–he has a heart of compassion for you—Allow Jesus to wash, sanctify, and justify you into His image–allow him to reorientate you toward who you really were created to be.

If you know someone dealing with same sex attraction, love them, pray for them, be patient with them, do everything you can to lovingly communicate the holy character of Jesus to them. If they will allow Him he will wash them, He will sanctify them, and He will justify them by the Spirit of God.

Pastor Dalton

Pastor Dalton


I love homosexuals.

But, the reality is–that if you think you can be a Christian and never come into conflict with the ways and choices of unbelieveing people or what your body desires, you’re mistaken–it’s not possible.

The word of God cannot be unloving, nor is it outdated. Furthermore, it is not vague about same sex relationships (see passage below). We must lovingly live in light of this innerant biblical truth out as followers of Jesus–or we are ignoring the Words of Jesus. himself who said “his word would not pass away”. If we choose to directly and un-repentantly disobey the bible how can we say we know or love God?

God loves homosexuals–enough to die on a cross to give them the power to overcome the temptation and orientation life experiences have thrown their way. In the same way, I believe Jesus offers me and every other heterosexual man and woman the power to overcome the temptation/orientation to misdirect our sexuality in adultery, promiscuity, pornography etc…

I love homosexuals enough to walk through the season of discipleship that overcoming any sexual sin requires.  So should you, as a Christian.

I want to let the Word speak for itself:

Romans 1:18-32 (ESV)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Pastor Dalton

Pastor Dalton