everybody has damage

Posted: September 7th, 2012 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , , , | 19 Comments »

You never really know what’s going on. Like sheep following the sheep in front of them, some have never even met the Shepherd.

“The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.” -Matthew 23:2-3 MSG

When denominations become corporations, leadership becomes a career. So come the politics of spit-and-polish veneer.

I heard a story a few months ago. The president of a denomination has a secret that could destroy his credibility, but only in a world where a person’s credibility is based on his ability to be a perfect example of the rules he sets forth. It wouldn’t have destroyed his credibility with me and probably not with you, either. We would have found hope in the rawness of life, knowing that everybody makes mistakes. He could have entered the world of grace instead of avoiding it by hiding under a blanket of technicalities. Good leadership is honest about their mistakes. Bad leadership makes people think it’s possible to be perfect.

“You can’t be a leader if you’re divorced unless you can prove that you had no fault, but you can never remarry, unless you can prove you were tricked.” Or, there about. All bylaws of loopholes and small print. The smart people can study the contract and find a way out of needing forgiveness. But, in the Kingdom world, they’re only finding a way to not need Jesus.

If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise—and God’s promise at that—you can’t break it. -Romans 4:14-15 MSG

As a result of the rules of the corporation denomination, men publicly hang the character of their ex-wives, just so they can keep their jobs. Women tell all of their ex-husband’s secrets and none of their own, just so they can still teach Sunday school.

 “I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God’s kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won’t let anyone else in either.” -Matthew 23:13-14 MSG

This system has been set up to not ever be able to admit your fault. There is no grace there.

The wife of the denomination president had grounds to divorce him, but didn’t want to hurt his career. She got a legal separation instead. That way he could keep his job and nobody would ever have to know the secrets that could destroy the facade. He was able to later retire with no one the wiser. The inside was broken while the appearance remained in tact.

What about all those under him who feel abnormal and wrecked because they didn’t have the power to hide? What about the women with alter call carpet embedded into their knees? They’re begging God to take away their stains because they’ve been taught that you can’t have stains. What about the men who are no longer allowed to do what they know God has called them to do? They think they have to live out the rest of their lives with the chains of sin still wrapped around them.

I met a preacher who got his papers taken away because he made a mistake. His passion is still preaching. There’s a hollow ache in his disposition. But he’s only allowed to hammer nails.

“Still like Jesus,” I tell him, though I know my kindness can’t reach him.

What about him?

“Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that’s wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?” -Matthew 23:24 MSG

“Writing a life’s story that’s wrong from start to finish.” It’s wrong from start to finish because you are not the Author. You can write all you want, but He is the One who’s published.

Nitpicked lives are slaves to their sin. Being a slave to sin is more than obeying the impulse. It’s believing it has the power, so much so that you devote yourself to avoidance more than you release yourself to God.

He writes your life story and He’s already said that He made the destroyer. Nothing the destroyer can form will be able to destroy you. No matter how bad your situation looks, it does not have the power to destroy you.

If anyone attacks you, don’t for a moment suppose that I sent them, and if any should attack, nothing will come of it. I create the blacksmith who fires up his forge and makes a weapon designed to kill. I also create the destroyer—but no weapon that can hurt you has ever been forged. -Isaiah 54:15-17 MSG

The way into God’s Kingdom is through Jesus and it’s only by grace. Grace is for sinners. It’s not a safety net. It’s a gate.

Be open and honest about your failures. Let God’s grace wash over you. It completely transforms you. It lights you on fire and sends you blazing. That’s where the power comes from. It’s not from you and your ability, it’s from grace. God’s children need to see it. The people need to see that there is hope for them, too.

Nobody goes through life without knowing they’ve been saved from something that had every right to destroy them. Don’t set yourself up as someone who is so far away from that, that it steals the hope of grace from everyone else. Use the moment of someone’s failure to rejoice about the vibrant display of mercy, grace, and restoration that God is about to show. That’s when you can really see Him. It’s the rainbow after the storm. It’s in the eyes of someone who believes with everything in them that God has a plan for this, too.

You never really know what’s going on. Don’t be the sheep who follows the sheep in front of you, but has never met the Shepherd. No matter what people want you to think, everybody has some damage that only Jesus can justify.

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”-Matthew 11:28-30 MSG



19 Comments on “everybody has damage”

  1. 1 Jayme said at 9:17 am on September 7th, 2012:

    So good and so timely for me! I love, love, love your work, Serena! I have never commented on anything before now, but trust me when I say I've read everything. Your writings have helped me through so much. So much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. =0)

  2. 2 serenawoods said at 9:29 am on September 7th, 2012:

    That's awesome, Jayme. Thank you for telling me. 🙂

  3. 3 Sam said at 9:19 am on September 7th, 2012:

    Love this.

  4. 4 serenawoods said at 9:29 am on September 7th, 2012:

    Thank you, Sam. 🙂

  5. 5 Dawn Phenix said at 10:26 am on September 7th, 2012:

    Such loving communication in this blog. I had to share several statements and paragraphs on my fb wall. I know they will speak to someone who needs to hear them today. We can never hear to much about Gods grace and love.

  6. 6 serenawoods said at 7:03 pm on September 7th, 2012:

    Thank you, Dawn. 🙂

  7. 7 Jeremy said at 1:41 pm on September 7th, 2012:

    A few years ago there was an associate pastor at a church in my hometown that was sleeping with a member. The woman he was sleeping with was engaged to be married to another man but eventually broke off the engagement once the head pastor of this church found out about what they were doing.

    The head pastor put the associate pastor on leave for a month before bringing him back on staff…during this time the associate pastor confessed what he had done to all the staff members of the church, but it was decided that this was as far as the information would go. Within the next year the head pastor left the church for another calling and the associate pastor took over and is currently still the head pastor of this church. The engaged woman he was sleeping with still attends the church as well though their relationship seems to be non-existent now.

    Your blog entry today made me think of the situation I've written above…I've often wondered if the previous head pastor made the right decision to keep this situation silent from the members of the church. I wonder if the man pasturing the church now feels disconnected in any way because he hasn't shared this secret with those he ministers too.

    I wish I had more solid answers or insight on this one…but I'm kind of at a loss today. Is the congregation better off not knowing?

    My recent post Moments of Ugly…

  8. 8 serenawoods said at 3:42 pm on September 7th, 2012:

    Jeremy, the denomination president in my story was like the servant in the Bible who was pardoned a huge debt, but then went out and refused to pardon someone who owed him. The king took the pardon back. The denomination president allows people under him to be destroyed for doing something he has done.

    It seems like the pastor in your story may be different. I don't think a congregation needs to know about what he did. It's possible that his experience has made him better as a pastor. More fit to lead. I see things different than a lot of people, though. To me, damage increases value.

  9. 9 Jeremy said at 4:43 pm on September 7th, 2012:

    Serena, you're not alone, I totally agree with your thoughts that damage increases value.

    You know, I'm gonna be honest with you about how I'm kind of feeling about the situation. There is a big part of me that is angry at this guy. And it's all so stupid really…but when I heard this guys story I immediately thought of myself six years back and how I lost my ministry and had to go through the crappiness of people making comments and judgements towards me about the affair I had. I guess it just kind of stings a little bit. But obviously my situation was a lot different than this guys, so I understand why things happened the way they did for me.

    I'm really in prayer about this Serena, because I know I'm judging this guy just like I was judged back then…and the truth is only God knows a persons heart.

    This walk with God continues to challenge me :o)

    "My humanity lies in wait like wolves at the door" – Close Your Eyes

    My recent post Moments of Ugly…

  10. 10 serenawoods said at 7:14 pm on September 7th, 2012:

    I totally understand. It feels like a double standard. It's not, though. This stuff doesn't go by our rules. People like you, me, and others who have turned from our public sin and use the freedom from our shame to strengthen others have a unique grasp. Some people wouldn't be able to bounce back like we have. Some people get to heal in private, but can still be fiercely driven to extend grace like they've received it. Step back, give the Holy Spirit room to reveal what needs to be revealed and protect what God chooses to protect. I needed my public shame. I'm a hard nut to crack. Others aren't so hard. But we're all I'm the same boat. On the same team. Singing the same song. Some are good at offense, some are good at defense. God knows where to put His players.

  11. 11 jeremykwalker said at 1:55 am on September 9th, 2012:

    I'm really just blown away by your response here…I get it…I totally understand what you're saying….and I agree.

    Thank you for speaking truth to me…understanding…and responding in a way I can really understand. God spoke to me through you…it's really awesome…thank you.

  12. 12 @JCWert said at 3:04 pm on September 7th, 2012:

    "They think they have to live out the rest of their lives with the chains of sin still wrapped around them."

    More like repeatedly put back on them with violent glee by a group of people who want to use them as the objects of scorn and sin so those throwing the stones can avoid their sin.

    I can't count the number of times "Christians" just dismiss me as a person because of my divorces or my mistakes in life.

    Grace is just a buzz-word that sounds good on Sundays to many Christians. 🙁
    My recent post Want a young girl, bound, with duct tape on her mouth?

  13. 13 Sisterlisa said at 7:24 pm on September 7th, 2012:

    The concept of a CEO of a church tends to get sticky and can cause all kinds of messy stuff to happen in a congregation. I think the bottom line is that we're all fallible and in need of grace. How to apply grace requires wisdom on our part, because we're not God. We have to live with different consequences while we're here. But regardless of the consequences, grace loves and walks with each other through the consequences.
    My recent post Adjusting

  14. 14 Denise said at 5:17 am on September 8th, 2012:

    "Use the moment of someone’s failure to rejoice about the vibrant display of mercy, grace, and restoration that God is about to show." … yes, yes…instead of beating them over the head love them to Him.

    As a perpetual "glass half empty" gal and one who fights hard to forget the "rules/reg's" – the wasted "contract" I was raised on and live the "Promise", I battle hard to stop hiding in my sin and stop beating others for the same.

    Thank you once again for words that wrap tightly around the heart!

  15. 15 Emm said at 5:47 pm on September 19th, 2012:

    Do I dare tell u what I've done. Maybe because you don't know me and who else could I tell? Ten years ago I married a non Christian when I KNEW it was a sin and I didn't slip into sin, but ran after it and said I don't care what God says. I was infertile for many years and chose the path of ivf when I knew I shouldnt and I wouldn't pray about it because I didn't want Him to say no. I ran into sin again with my arms open wide. And now I'm happy and have everything but Im not happy because I disobeyed and I know He can forgive but would He want to after I contiually said NO to Him again and again. And how do u turn from sin when its your husband and child? And I have moments when I feel like I'm His and then the crushing of my spirit starts and I wonder will He bless my husband and child with his spirit or have I damaged them in my sin?And lots of time I feel better when I feel bad.

  16. 16 serenawoods said at 6:55 pm on September 19th, 2012:

    Emm, I don't know what to say other than this sounds completely wrong. I don't know who told you what sin was or why you think that marrying someone who wasn't a Christian or having a baby with the help of doctors was a sin. Your husband and child are not your sin. They're your husband (of ten years!) and your child. You're in tangles of lies. Instead of focusing on your past, mistakes and all, let it go and start trying to get to know who Jesus is. From what you've written, I don't think you know what kind of Love you're dealing with.

  17. 17 emm said at 6:42 pm on September 19th, 2012:

    yes, I feel tangled, perhaps you're right and I am, but doesn't the bible say do not be unequally yoked… what does light have to do with darkness. Sin is anything you do that is w/out faith. Because I knew I shouldn't do these things (even if it was my perception) isn't this sin? I am completely and totally in love with my little family. Almost too wonderful they both are..but I feel that I am the one who demanded from God. I said, I know what is right. I turned my back on Him. Perhaps He would have said yes, but I didn't give Him the chance. If I am confused, how wonderful that would be, because my life is tainted with regret.

  18. 18 Aimee said at 8:29 pm on January 19th, 2014:

    Dear Emm,

    Love your family. Not everyone who does IVF (or tries to have a baby via conventional means) conceives. God still knit your baby together into your womb. Your child is a gift from God, regardless of whether you feel you don't deserve the gift. This is what grace from God is: that He gives us far more than we deserve; more than we could ask or think. I encourage you to love your child and your husband. You didn't mention whether your husband has come to Jesus and been saved yet or not, but if not, the Bible teaches that your husband is "sanctified" through you. This frees you to LOVE him and show him the wonderful Jesus that will love and save and give him grace too! Sometimes God can even make something beautiful out of our mistakes. Maybe (I pray) your husband will find Christ through being yoked to you, a Christian. It would be just like Jesus to do something wonderful like that. Let your life be tainted with JOY, not regret. Pray for your husband's salvation, and let the joy you have through God's love permeate your home. 🙂

  19. 19 Michelle said at 2:58 pm on September 21st, 2012:

    Thanks… more great words to spark my meditations.

    (I used some of your words in my recent post… )

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