a conversation about love

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 | Filed under: life | Tags: | 34 Comments »

I wrote a blog about love the other day that received the following comment (click the underlined link if you want to read the blog):

So because “Love Wins on every level” discerning christians should just stand by and watch a man COMPLETELY trample on the truths of scripture….we should listen patiently while he disregards Christ’s incredible sacrifice as inconsequential…?? Because we don’t know what all of his thoughts are and “Love wins”….???
A THOUSAND TIMES NO!
You are correct that we only see in part….God has not revealed all to us…..but He HAS given us His word and it is CLEAR….

Romans 16: 17-18…… I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

Colossians 2:8…..
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Everything Rob Bell is saying in his new book is contrary to the SOLID word of God! It is very pleasing to wordly ears……
We need to do as Jude urges…..

Jude 1:3…… Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

My response is something that I wanted everyone to read, so I am posting it here:

I am overwhelmed with kindness and the kind of patient love for you that I learned by God’s example in His dealings with me. All the while I do not understand why you hold disdain for me yet still read what I have to say. I can only give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that you want, with everything in you, to be a ‘good’ Christian.

I am not sure why you are bringing up a book that I never mentioned nor have I read. Your entire comment is in response to something that I have not formed thoughts about and have not spoken about, therefore it makes your fight against something that has nothing to do with me. What, within in you, are you fighting? What is hurting you? I have to wonder why you are bringing your fight here. You even pretend that you are a separate person named Rebecca when you post something especially venomous. What draws you here? Maybe you need to know that you are loved. You are accepted. You are His precious little girl. He calls you Beloved. And… you are my sister. Destined to one day be friends in a Kingdom where we just might be neighbors. I can only hope for and choose to believe that. It helps keep my heart soft and open to you.

I will address the scriptures you quoted:

When you look up Romans 16, it’s talking about avoiding people who cause divisions and create obstacles. When I talk about love and you come in with strong opposition, what do you think that is? Are you representing division? Are you creating obstacles? Obstacles to what? The cross-reference scripture leads to this one:

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. -1 Timothy 1:5-7 ESV

Obstacles to Love. Divisions over the law of Love.

By ’swerving’ from Love, ‘certain persons’ wander off into vain discussions about the law. They do not understand what they’re saying or what they are standing up for. We’re told to avoid them. Of all the people we think we should avoid, scripture actually says to avoid people who wander off from Love and assert the law.

When you read further into Colossians 2, you can find what ‘traditions’ or ‘elemental spirits of the world’ is referring to:

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. -Colossians 2:20-23 ESV

side note: “asceticism” means: “the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons”

In Christ, you died to ‘legalism’ (the elemental spirits of the world) and have to avoid those ‘human precepts and teachings.’ Why? Because your best is not good enough. Religion can’t save you. It has no value.

side note: “precepts” means: “a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought”

You said: “Everything Rob Bell is saying in his new book is contrary to the SOLID word of God! It is very pleasing to wordly ears……”

Have you read it? Surely you wouldn’t speak so boldly against something you haven’t read. Surely you wouldn’t be basing all of your opinions and beliefs, on what others say.

What if the Holy Spirit is using his message to reach people? What if the Spirit of God is speaking to people through the message of love? I haven’t read the book, so these are just “what if’s”. Again, what if the Holy Spirit is using Rob Bell’s book? What does that say about all of those who are mocking it, rebuking it, and saying it’s from the devil?

When you reject the Holy Spirit and accredit his actions with evil, isn’t that blasphemy?

You mentioned Jude 1, did you read a bit further?

But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. -Jude 1:10 ESV

The people that Jude is talking about are those who pervert the grace of God by making it something that must be earned by keeping a set of rules. It doesn’t mean that a person can live selfishly, it means that they cannot earn grace. The cross-reference scripture for the verse following the one you quoted (the cross-reference for Jude 1:4) is Act 11:23 where Peter sees the grace of God, is glad about it, and tells the church to ‘remain steadfast’. ‘Steadfast is understood with the cross-reference scripture found in 2 Timothy 3.

You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness… – 2 Timothy 3:10 ESV

Steadfast in Love (and faith and patience). Those who preach grace and love have always been ‘persecuted’ (1 Timothy 3:11) but Peter, Paul, Jesus, me, and any other worker/disciple of Jesus must endure and remain committed.

side note: “steadfast” means: “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering”

acal

UPDATE: Her response to me…

Serena….you were asked directly about th Rob Bell situation and you said THIS post answered your feelings……which means you are giving him the benefit of the doubt!
I believe in calling heretics what they are….. I have read enough portions of the book and have heard Rob Bell’s own words! He is a universalist and a heretic….He makes Christ’s sacrifice in vain……
I continue to read occasionally here because I am praying that you will see the great influence you have and how you are misusing it…. I have no disdain for you….I pity you……. I see you as distorting the gospel and profiting from it……I will no longer read however….you have a very inflated view of yourself and your own interpretations of scripture…..I think you seriously need to have a studied man of God evaluate your teachings!
We cannot be lukewarm….we cannot comopromise the truth of God’s righteous judgement in the name of love and understanding….we cannopt change the Lord into something that pleases man….He will spit us out! We are either hot or cold!
BTW….. I was not pretending to be someone else….if I had been doing that wouldn’t I have used a different e-mail?? Obviously you see the adresses….that is my middle name….I post under both occasionally…… but it doesn’t surprise me that you would be petty and demean me publicly…..that is what cornered people do! That post wasn’t venomous it was truthful!


34 Comments »


34 Comments on “a conversation about love”

  1. 1 Justin said at 7:46 am on March 23rd, 2011:

    What a loving, graceful response Serena.

    God will use whatever he needs to reach lost people. Rob Bell, The Shack, Serena Woods, Justin Falls, A Child, Rebecca, A Song, A Word. If the Bible were enuff – then we wouldn't be at war with each other. God will use anything and everything to reach his people – don't trip on that.

  2. 2 Brooke Luby said at 7:47 am on March 23rd, 2011:

    This is such a great example of how to respond to people who oppose in love. It's hard to enter into these conversations sometimes, because I never want to debate, and it feels like they already have their minds made up. But love wins, or rather- love has already won.

  3. 3 dawn said at 7:50 am on March 23rd, 2011:

    very good, sister. very loving and faithful Serena. I am thankful for you. I am endlessly helped and healed by the studying you do, and explain about the Lord. Much love and peace, sister.

  4. 4 autumn said at 7:59 am on March 23rd, 2011:

    Serena…..as I already explained in another post…..I feel you are very petty to say that I pretended to be someone else….. That is my middle name….I use it occasionally because I have been harrassed by other COMMENTERS….from Christian blogs (based on mutual blog likes and my unusual name) very viciously….something I have never and would never do….. I was posting publicly on a public blog….if I was pretending wouldn't I have used a different e-mail??

    You obviously saw both…..maybe you should consider people may have reasons for certain things……not very gracious if you ask me!

    I am not ashamed of that other post it was completely truthful……

    I think you should ask permission before you decide to make a blog post slandering someone….that would be the christian thing to do!

  5. 5 Serena Woods said at 8:21 am on March 23rd, 2011:

    Autumn: Actually, I didn’t know until the 14th (a month later). When people want to post anonymously, it is either because they want to discuss things and they don’t want their personal friends to know their identity or they want to say something mean to me, personally, and they don’t want me to know which regular commenter they are.

    Admittedly, you stand by what you said. You say it is 'truth' and you are not the only one who feels the way you do. You cannot label something you stand by as 'slander'. Slander is when you lie about someone to damage their reputation. I did not 'slander' you, I turned up the volume on your microphone. If what you say is truth and I just amped your speaking tool, you should be pleased.

    I am sorry you have been harassed by others. There is no excuse for name calling, sin listing, or accusations. Right? It’s a terrible thing to do in the name of God. You must know that I know how that feels.

    I'll repeat myself:

    Maybe you need to know that you are loved. You are accepted. You are His precious little girl. He calls you Beloved. And… you are my sister. Destined to one day be friends in a Kingdom where we just might be neighbors. I can only hope for and choose to believe that. It helps keep my heart soft and open to you.

  6. 6 Serena Woods said at 8:50 am on March 23rd, 2011:

    Justin, Brooke, and Dawn:

    Thank you for your kind words. 🙂 And for understanding what I am trying to do. Love wins.

  7. 7 autumn said at 8:55 am on March 23rd, 2011:

    That sounds rather condescending, but I know you are sincere…..please don't assume that because we differ in our understanding of grace that I am a desperate hurting woman without hope! I do know all those things Serena….. I do not hold any disdain or contempt for you whatsoever……. I think you are a very gifted writer….. I just think the message is off…..

    I will leave it in the Lord's hands because it is obvious that your readers definitely have different views than I do…….Perhaps it is not beneficial for me to read blogs with conflicting views hoping they will change….. So I will stop! 🙂

    The church is in serious decline…..If we do not stand squarely in the scriptures we do not stand at all! I will leave you with that……

  8. 8 Serena Woods said at 9:01 am on March 23rd, 2011:

    Autumn: I'll take that kindness and say 'thank you.' 🙂 Take care…

  9. 9 Serena Woods said at 9:09 am on March 23rd, 2011:

    A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. – Proverbs 15:1

  10. 10 Sisterlisa said at 9:33 am on March 23rd, 2011:

    Serena,

    Love the wisdom coming from you. ((hugs))

  11. 11 Sisterlisa said at 9:55 am on March 23rd, 2011:

    I just went back and read all the comments on the other article. I can understand why some comments, though negative, have a purpose to allow through. The way you handled this entire scenario was fruitful, for me anyway. I appreciate that you shared this openly and how you handled it is beautiful and full of grace. 1 Corinthians 11: 18For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

    Serena, you have been recognized. 🙂

    And as difficult as it is to see such hurtful comments, God uses them for His glory. To be thankful in the hard times… a spiritual sacrifice of thanksgiving while being accused. 1 Peter 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

    Special thanks to this 'Rebecca' for helping the grace in Serena's words to be amplified.

  12. 12 Julie R. said at 10:01 am on March 23rd, 2011:

    Loved the way you handle yourself even in the face of extreme disagreement.

    I appreciate the way you understand the reasons why people post anonymously at times.

    Autumn/Rebecca: I too am sorry that you have been "hated on" in other blogs. I will not speak for everyone, but I don't hate you. I don't think that disagreements necessarily cause division. You posted another way of looking at things.

    Your thoughts give people like me more to search out in the scripture. I don't take just look at one person's interpretation of the scriptures and believe THAT as "gospel". We are charged in the scriptures to study, to learn for ourselves, what is written there. I believe the Lord gives Christians a way to know if something is of Him.

  13. 13 Laura said at 10:05 am on March 23rd, 2011:

    Dear Serena,

    I think you are walking a dangerous line in this post. I want you to understand, I am not writing this to attack you…just maybe bring some things to the forefront of your mind to maybe pray about? I know you have given me a lot to pray about in some of your writing, and I thank you for that! So I hope I can convey my heart through this, in an iron sharpens iron kind of attempt.

    I completely agree with Autumn. I have not read Rob Bells book, but believe me the man has made enough press appearances, produced enough videos, and promoted his book enough for me to form an educated (and lets not forget, basic biblical) opinion on his newest book. In fact, the first time that I saw his video on "Love Wins" I had not heard about all the uproar surrounding him…and from that video, I feel pretty solid on saying he is WAY OFF from scripture.

    I'm sorry if this upsets people on this thread, but if anyone can believe that God can use the opposite of the gospel to accomplish the gospel…they are either confused, or don't have an understanding of scripture. Let's look at…

    "Mark 3: 22- 27 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "by the prince of demons he casts out the demons." And he called them to him and said to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house."

    So by saying that God can use Bells book to reach people, is in my opinion, insane. He sent Jesus to take our sins upon himself, and to die for us, so that we wont perish in hell. But Rob Bell is saying that there isn't really a hell. Soooo, what exactly did Jesus die for? All you have to do is google any of his videos, it is clear as day that this is what he is saying.

    Your stance on Bell or whatever isn't really my big concern, although it does scare me a little…it's how you call people out on your blog publicly, who are reaching out to you to discuss a difference that they have with your view. I understand if people come at you in a harsh manner, not engaging in a conversation with them…but I don't think that was the case with Autumn here. If you are only able to accept the praise for your posts, or only allow people to disagree with you but only to a certain extent, you are going to build up a false sense of humility.

    Yes, we are all hurting and imperfect…but not every person who opposes you is hurting in the area that they are bringing to your attention. I have seen you accuse a few people now of having an otherwise unknown motive for challenging your beliefs…maybe they just see that your understanding of a scripture is off, and want to bring it to your attention? Maybe their only intention is to help, since none of us are perfect and can't possibly know the interpretation of scripture 100%. I would encourage these types of discussions if you want your iron sharpened.

  14. 14 Chris said at 12:15 pm on March 23rd, 2011:

    I see that 'iron sharpens iron' is exactly what Serena is trying to do. She is taking one woman's public attempt to dispute Serena's message and Serena obviously took it to heart and studied the scriptures that were quoted to her. And STILL found evidence for her convictions. Her 'iron' sharpened by another and then taking that exchange to 'sharpen' the rest of us. It's so clear.

    Also, Serena has, as far as I know, not taken a side over Rob Bell or his book. She said she hasn't read it or formed thoughts about it. Any mention was a 4x's statement and even 'bolded' 'what if'. Why, then, the three paragraphs talking about something off topic? It makes me shake my head in confusion.

    I have been reading Serena's blog for over a year now. I have also followed 'Autumn Rebecca's' comments to her. She has called her a heretic, unforgiven, unrepentant, hypocrite, a danger, a wolf, deceived, not God inspired, on and on. Do you agree with that? And how does Serena respond? With more love and grace than I would have.

    Serena backs up every stance she takes with more scripture than a Pastor would use in his Sunday morning service. Look at it. Even people who attack her personally and her message with scriptures, she corrects WITH THEIR VERY SAME scriptures.

    So now, she stands up for the message with great patience, a thorough use of comprehensive scripture and she is attacked for not rolling over and giving in?! Talk about suffering for the Gospel.

    Serena, I am so sorry I have taken up so much space on your blog. I've never commented because I've never felt the need, but I had to speak up.

    Please keep writing, keep fighting for the broken. I can't begin to tell you the difference you made in countless lives.

    Chris

  15. 15 Laura said at 1:04 pm on March 23rd, 2011:

    Thanks Chris for your thoughts…hope you don’t mind me going through each of your points to clarify my reasoning behind my post. Especially because up until the last few posts by Serena, I was a faithful reader and follower even though many urged me against it. After I read her book, about a year ago, I read her blogs each time she posted one, but after the one about the prodigal…I started to get a little uneasy about where she was going with her message…then I noticed a trend, so I decided to speak up. I am not claiming to know her heart behind her posts, and I would love to hear from her to hear her out!

    On to your comments, Chris…

    You said: “She is taking one woman’s public attempt to dispute Serena’s message and Serena obviously took it to heart and studied the scriptures that were quoted to her. And STILL found evidence for her convictions. Her ‘iron’ sharpened by another and then taking that exchange to ’sharpen’ the rest of us. It’s so clear.” …I disagree with you. Unless I am misreading her tone in her blog…it sounded more condescending than anything, and I think Autumn agrees, as do other people who I have talked to about this post. It looks to me as though she was using Autumns response to her to prove the point that people who don’t see things as she does obviously don’t (and can’t) understand grace. When people hold people accountable to the use correct scripture, they are automatically pinned as negative, or argumentative. I promise you, not everyone who throws up a question mark wants the author to stop speaking about grace….they just want grace spoken about in it’s true meaning. I’m not saying that Serena doesn’t have a handle on that…but sometime, like all of us, we may mess up the message a bit. It was her understanding of God’s grace that drew me to her in the first place…but I am at a different place in my life now and can see SOME holes in that. But I don’t just throw the rest away.

    You said: “Also, Serena has, as far as I know, not taken a side over Rob Bell or his book. She said she hasn’t read it or formed thoughts about it. Any mention was a 4x’s statement and even ‘bolded’ ‘what if’. Why, then, the three paragraphs talking about something off topic? It makes me shake my head in confusion.”….as far as I understood, she posted in “Love Never Ends” in response to ImaAnon, that her blog was in fact her view on her opinion on Rob Bell. So, that is why I am talking about something so “off topic” even though the conversation between Autumn and Serena was about the very topic of Rob Bell. Not to mention that she tagged her post as “Love Wins” which is the name of the book in question.

    You said: “I have been reading Serena’s blog for over a year now. I have also followed ‘Autumn Rebecca’s’ comments to her. She has called her a heretic, unforgiven, unrepentant, hypocrite, a danger, a wolf, deceived, not God inspired, on and on. Do you agree with that? And how does Serena respond? With more love and grace than I would have.” I don’t keep up with all the comments after I read the posts, so I don’t know anything about Autumn’s past comments. However, I am starting to feel as though Serena’s responses to people who oppose her are often dripping with pride masked in kindness and her willingness to agree to disagree…but I’ve never seen her hear someone out and say “Wow…thank you for pointing that out. I missed that.” I have seen her however delete or sensor some pretty educated commenters because they disagreed with her.

    You said: “Serena backs up every stance she takes with more scripture than a Pastor would use in his Sunday morning service. Look at it. Even people who attack her personally and her message with scriptures, she corrects WITH THEIR VERY SAME scriptures.” The fact that she almost always uses The Message “bible” to create her blogs kinda discredits a lot of her use of scripture to me. Just because someone uses scripture doesn’t make what they are saying truth.

  16. 16 Serena Woods said at 2:55 pm on March 23rd, 2011:

    Laura:

    "Unless I am misreading her tone in her blog…it sounded more condescending than anything,"

    I am unbelievably sad about this comment. I spoke from my heart and I was 'overwhelmed' by the kindness and softness I felt. Autumn said that she believed I was 'sincere' and that was an amazing breakthrough that you are now trying to take backward. I'm just sad …and confused.

    "….as far as I understood, she posted in “Love Never Ends” in response to ImaAnon, that her blog was in fact her view on her opinion on Rob Bell."

    My very quick and short comment on that blog was my attempt to stop the fight over Rob Bell from coming here. I want no part of it. "love never ends" was a study of 1 Corinthians 13 (the last portion). Not a study or a statement about a book or the man who wrote it. I'm not jumping on the blog bandwagon of that discussion, I'm avoiding the whole thing. I have nothing intelligent to add to the conversation, so I won't take part.

    Autumn brought it up and I said: "I am not sure why you are bringing up a book that I never mentioned nor have I read."

    Not to mention that she tagged her post as “Love Wins” which is the name of the book in question.

    If you go to the right section of my blog and look at the words in the cloud, click on 'love wins' and find that I have been tagging posts with that phrase since February 9, 2009 when I titled a blog "love wins". My husband has had it tattooed on his forearm for 4 years. It's a phrase that has huge meaning in our lives and in the lives of others who rely on the fact that God loves us and we are supposed to love others. Just because a book came out with that name means nothing to me.

    However, I am starting to feel as though Serena’s responses to people who oppose her are often dripping with pride masked in kindness and her willingness to agree to disagree…but I’ve never seen her hear someone out and say “Wow…thank you for pointing that out. I missed that.”

    "Dripping in pride and masked in kindness." Would you be able to look me in the eye and say those things? Do you know me so well that you can say that? I am consumed with studying the scriptures, I use so many to back up my statements because they blow me away and I cannot support them on my own. I don't just say things to say them. When someone disagrees with me, I read everything they say, I read everything they ask me to read. I actually stayed up until 6:04 am 'hearing out' Rebecca when she posted a comment on a blog titled 'but grace'. My 6:04 comment was after an entire night of 'hearing her out.' If she was right, I wanted to know it. I am so passionate about finding the Truth that I will forego sleep any day of the week. I have four kids, I work full time, I go to school full time. I am busy, but I will give everything to finding the Truth and learning about God. I'm not going to just discredit someone because they don't agree with me. I just need someone to convince me otherwise.

    I have seen her however delete or sensor some pretty educated commenters because they disagreed with her.

    No, you have not seen me delete comments that disagree with me. The only comments I have moderated out were in response to me staying up all night 'hearing out' someone who disagreed with me and she came back with biting remarks that I could not stomach after the amount of effort I put into answering her. If someone is going to be biting and unproductive, then I will absolutely moderate it out. That's not 'iron sharpening iron' that is someone getting a cheap emotional release under the anonymity of commenting on a blog.

    The fact that she almost always uses The Message “bible” to create her blogs kinda discredits a lot of her use of scripture to me.

    I am aware that some people don't like 'The Message'. I do. I like it for it's conversational style. I've said this many times before, but I'll say it again. I study out of four different translations so that when I interpret scripture, I can be confident that I am doing it as right as I possibly can. I take what I do seriously. I used to use 'The Message' all the time in my blogs and my book. When I discovered that people don't like it, I thought that they would double check the scriptures themselves and balance my thoughts on the scriptures in their preferred translation. When I discovered that people don't do that and they just write off whatever I say, I started using a different translation. Look my recent blogs.

    I cannot please everyone. I don't even try. However, I listen and I do what I can to remove obstacles to what I'm trying to say. I have even started 'showing my work' so people can see how I came to my determinations.

    Every time I say anything someone is going to find a problem with it. I have to either stick to my convictions, expect it, and keep going, or I have to sit down and quit. I cannot quit. It would burn inside of me and make me miserable. In trying to find issue with me, you won't have to look hard. I am a flawed human being, but I know what my purpose is and I'm doing the best that I can to be obedient to what God has called me to do. I am in a quiet place of calm confidence in God choosing me, and though I know what kind of package I come in (flawed), I will not spit in the face of what He's done for me (saved me, transformed me, made me new, gave me purpose, set me free) by not telling anyone I can that He can do it for them, too.

  17. 17 Julie R. said at 3:19 pm on March 23rd, 2011:

    Ephesians 6:12

    For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

  18. 18 Cori said at 3:20 pm on March 23rd, 2011:

    I wasn't going to comment, but I'm feeling like I need to say something that I think of writing after every blog post you write: and that's a big ol' thank you. seriously. I read your book this past summer and I read your blog daily and your posts make me think. and search the scriptures. and thank God daily that both love and grace win. I see God here and I am so forced to see him working in my heart through this place. so it has nothing to do with your blog post today, but I just felt compelled to say a big thank you. and if I could, I'd just give you a hug right now because I see grace as a result of your words. thank you.

  19. 19 Serena Woods said at 3:31 pm on March 23rd, 2011:

    Thank you, Cori. 🙂

  20. 20 Laura said at 3:32 pm on March 23rd, 2011:

    Thank you so much Serena for responding. I can hear that my choice of wording has hurt you, and I am truly sorry for that. I am especially sorry that you thought that I was trying to undo what you saw as a breakthrough. That never my intention. As I am not a writer, I find it hard sometimes to convey my heart through text. That is why I try to preface things with "If I am understanding her correctly"…because I want to leave room for you to correct my understanding.

    Your clarifications have helped me immensely to see where you are coming from, which is why I stated that I was hoping you'd respond. We still disagree on some things, which is fine with me…if I held you to some perfect standard, that wouldn't be fair (or logical). But your willingness to have this discussion openly changes some of the opinions I have made.

    I would like to say though, I wasn't talking about whoever you are speaking of in which you had to delete comments. I don't even know who "she" is…I think you are talking about Rebecca, but I missed that completely. I am speaking about ver close friends of mine who's threads you have deleted before. The ONLY reason I bring this up is because I want to clarify, so that I am not portrayed as a liar, or even someone who just pulls something out of nowhere to prove a point. If you believed that the comments to you were "biting" in said threads that you deleted, than that is your choice. I understand the need to not post things that are going nowhere, and in turn hurting people. I however, didn't see that specific conversation as the other party using "biting" comments. But then again, it's not my blog…so what I think of the comments doesn't really matter.

    What you said in your final paragraph, if that is truly your heart, which I believe that it is, scratches what I have stated about your pride when people oppose you.

    I wanted this to be a fair discussion and I believe it has been. So thank you for responding. I think it takes a lot of courage to share the story of your life, Serena. I have cried with you while reading your book, and watching your video…so I know that sharing all of the details [that goes along with not just your story but with how your life unfolds each day after] can be taxing. I pray that while you study God's word and commit to teaching others through this platform, that you hold on with everything in you to represent it in it's fullest truth.

  21. 21 Serena Woods said at 3:54 pm on March 23rd, 2011:

    Laura: Are you talking about a man who wrote an entire blog telling people that I deleted his and his friend's comments? If so, it was 2:30 am and I could not get my phone to stop going off when someone posted a new comment, so I took them down until I could respond in the morning. I put them back up with my response when I woke up the next day. However, he wrote his blog in the middle of the night when he had no idea why I stopped the flow of comments.

    I wrote him privately to explain and he was very kind to understand my reasoning. They are up in full view. He is not a fan of my message, but as far as his dealings with me, has explained his reasons and I get it. He deals with people who take the message of grace to mean that they can do whatever they want and demand that people show them grace. He deals with people in a very different (and from what I understand, deceived) place. We had, what I thought, a very graceful and understanding exchange of emails.

    If that is what you are referring to, then there is my explanation. It's too bad he didn't write a whole blog telling people that he was mistaken, but he did take it down. 🙂

  22. 22 Serena Woods said at 3:58 pm on March 23rd, 2011:

    Laura, I forgot to respond to the other things. Thank you for really hearing me. You made me cry (a good cry).

  23. 23 Jason said at 6:15 pm on March 23rd, 2011:

    Serena, the bottom line is today with the internet you'll have people who are out to simply slander and attack those who do not line up with their almost militant like beliefs about Scripture and Jesus. They will not tolerate someone disagreeing with them on any level especially if that person is somehow in their mind reaching more people than they can reach with their actions. Almost every time those people will try to obscure their identity and will do all they can do to keep people from seeing who they really are…as if Jesus ran and hid when speaking the truth.

    You've been incredibly gracious in dealing with this situation, Serena. If I could make a recommendation…if someone is trying to conceal their identity, you're better off not responding to them. Almost every time, they're looking for a fight and as my grandfather used to say all that happens when you get into the mud is you both end up dirty.

  24. 24 Serena Woods said at 6:29 pm on March 23rd, 2011:

    Jason: Your grandpa's saying made me smile. 🙂 Thanks for your kind words.

  25. 25 D. Grayson said at 6:33 am on March 24th, 2011:

    Serena, I am so impressed with the way you handled this entire conversation, comments included. It takes a lot of poise and grace to be able to take this hits you take and still stand up.

    You really are making an impact. It seems your kindness has softened some hearts here, too.

    What you are saying is not misunderstood by all, it's obvious when people don't get it. It's not you. We can read, we can see, and you're doing fine.

    I just really felt like you needed someone to smile at you. 🙂

    You have more people loving you in Jesus name than you have people hissing at you.

    Keep going. We need it.

  26. 26 LisaJo said at 9:24 am on March 24th, 2011:

    Wow. I have nothing profound to say, but thank you for sharing this with us. And thank you to everyone who has contributed to the back and forth in the comments. This sort of thing does make me extremely sad and tired, tho. And….dare I say….angry at God? I'll admit that I can't quote Scripture from memory, and I'm not the best at diving into Scripture to work something out on my own, but it is frustrating to me that 2 people can read the Bible and come out with different…atttudes (?) I guess. I mean, when the stakes are this high: heaven/hell. Right/wrong. You are either with Christ or not. Then why not give us bullet points, God? Why all the extra words and stories and emotions? It's almost like He realized that for this book to mean something to Everyone who ever lived, every nationality, every personality, every temperament, every age…that there had to be something that spoke to each one of us. I'm sure that's an ill formed argument, but is it possible that both camps are right (I am saying 'camps' just to paint a quick picture. I'm not trying to categorize anyone.)? That may be too much of a hopeful statement, because it may make it seem like I'm trivializing the argument here. I am not saying that whatever we consider heretical is not important. I guess I'm just venting some of the frustration I have when I come upon blog arguments. Serena, I appreciate your blog. Whenever I stop by, I find something good to chew on. And to anyone who does not share Serena's views, yet comes by to join in the conversation: I appreciate you being concerned enough to say something. Can't we all just get along? What if something crazy happened and we all just said "My faith is in the accomplished work of Jesus!" and we continued to fellowship together and work thru our salvation with each other. Oh, and take care of that widow down the street who is having trouble fixing meals for herself, and contribute to missions that care for orphaned children. I read about that sort of thing somewhere.

  27. 27 Serena Woods said at 10:00 am on March 24th, 2011:

    Thanks, D. Grayson.

    love it, LisaJo. 🙂

  28. 28 Julie R. said at 3:50 pm on March 24th, 2011:

    Lisa Jo… you understand way much more than you think you do. I read your entire comment and found you to be extremely insightful and thought provoking in your questions.

  29. 29 Juliet deWal said at 5:24 pm on March 24th, 2011:

    My land, Girl, I miss a few days of reading and come back to a week's worth of reading just to get through the comments.

    I love you, and I am proud of you for how you've walked this out, and I am very glad that everyone involved shared their hearts and tried very hard to hear one another. If we, the Body can't openly discuss and disagree and yet, at the end of the day respect and grant love, who are we to speak of reconciliation to those who do not know Christ.

    xoxj

  30. 30 Sisterlisa said at 5:25 pm on March 24th, 2011:

    People won't always understand each other perfectly and they won't always agree 100%. That's the beauty of a thriving community of diversity.

    Colossians 3:14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

    I think of a person's blog as their personal living room. If the home owner prefers not to discuss certain matters in their home (on their blog) it should be respected. This is what love does, it respects and doesn't insist on it's own way. 1 Corinthians 13

  31. 31 Serena Woods said at 7:21 pm on March 24th, 2011:

    All good stuff. 🙂

  32. 32 Roberta said at 5:00 am on March 25th, 2011:

    Wow…blow me away why dontcha 😉 Found your blog via the Relevant blog and got pulled into this post for whatever reason…I don't question or anaylze life…I just live it. I don't read the bible and cannot quote ANY scripture and after reading all of these comments I have to say…I'm really okay with that. I find it so hard to get my head around this "tit for tat" and righteous sounding banter. When I have an opinion…I don't need the bible to back up what or how I want to say it. AND I find it ridiculous that someone calls themself a better Christian because they can. My words are simple, plain and true…things like "life happens while you are making other plans" is my way of saying that God has a plan for all of us no matter what. I'm saying the same thing when I tell my adult children, "things happen for a reason". "Get your head around it", simply means finding grace and acceptance for what you just cannot change or have control over. There are many more…but my point is, you don't have to know the bible or be able to quote scripture to be a good Christian. Ultimately, actions speak louder than words. Blogging is tough for everyone because it is public. However, I do not feel the need to defend myself in ANY manner when someone attacks me and neither should you because you want to share your opinions and passion about 'the message', whatever that may be. Ultimately, the only one that I care about and who will be my final judge is God. I am human and here for a reason and it's not to be God-like and judge anyone else. We can only be the best that we can be in any situation.

  33. 33 Angelia Primeaux said at 6:53 am on March 25th, 2011:

    John 3:16-18 The Message

    "This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son.And this is why: so that no one be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didnt go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in Him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that persons failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him."

    Romans 5:8 NIV

    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    Romans 6:14NIV

    For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

    Romans 8:28

    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

    I cannot quote scripture from memory. I looked up these because this debate(?) lit a fire under me. I am not familiar with Rob Bells book at all, havent read a word but have heard of him. Who am I to say what Gods doing in his life? Do I think God is wringing his hands over Rob? No I dont. Gods not finished with one single one of us. Our stories are not finished yet. The one question I would ask Rebecca….Where is Jesus in this? as hard as I looked in your postings to find him, I could not. I think healthy debate is a good thing…God can handle us and our differences. However, using scripture to hurt another….is the thing that makes me run far away from many a self-proclaimed "good Christian". All that aside….I love you. And Serena….you have been a life saving instrument of God in my life. Our stories may be very different, but our pain has been common. I love you for all that you are.

  34. 34 sarah said at 6:26 am on March 26th, 2011:

    Jesus didn't defend himself.

    I think that this angry commenter sounds tormented. She's probably suffering in her own way….probably just as much as you ever suffered.


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