I nearly died two or three times as a youngster. It gives me a rare ability to LIVE without fear of death. Or too much else, most of the time.
Although I wrestle with addictions (in recovery at the moment, even the cigarettes wow!) and depression (healed…just have a blue day now and again instead of a blue year or decade!)….my communication, especially to people I love is blunt, to the point and by faith ANOINTED. Without being over-spiritual, it depends on my heart motive, and thanks to Jesus, most of the time my motives are for good and not evil…
Don’t get me wrong….I prefer to be sweet, non-combative, in love and gentle in a soft female way! And sometimes I am. But a lot of time I AM NOT and God made me this way and it’s ok! I remember an evangelist laying hands on me praying for an anointing of a SCRAPPER for Jesus, like a lil ol boxing Mohammed Ali kinda thing, an I laughed at the time…but God will use ANY aspect of our personality for his purposes if we submit them. Just look at the tatoo’d biker Todd!
So in my quiet time today I came across (how did I miss it the last gazillion times?? The Word is new and fresh every time) Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and it jumped out at me…rhema. I have translated it into modern language, with the original King James beneath. Hope it ‘speaks’ to you as much as it did me!
2nd Corinthians Chapter 7, verses 7-12
italics Even though I upset you in my message, I’m not really sorry, though I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I’m not sorry, because I realise that message made you think and do some soul-searching, it only hurt for a little while…
I’m glad now, not that you were hurt, but that in the pain, you did a stock-check, some soul-searching, I tried to induce in you a godly kinda sorrow, not hurt your feelings or damage you.
That kind of conviction…not condemnation…induces change that can save lives which is of course a good thing. Worldly criticism just makes us wanna run, cut off, disconnect….even die.
Because look now…the very message thac caused you pain yet in a good way, look at the changes it has brought about in you in a really profound way: you’re much more aware, a weight has been lifted off your shoulders, you’re more indignant for righteousness and justice, you have a healthy fear kind of reverent fear…you got your passion back! You are alive an ready to kick some butt…the devil’s preferably!!
So I hope you believe when I say I meant you no harm, nor was I taking sides with anyone or trying to be ‘holier-than-thou’ …but genuinely to show you how much I care…and HOW MUCH GOD CARES!
fOR THE MORE TRADITIONAL, FOLLOWING IS THE ORIGINAL KING JAMES TRANSLATION!
For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent; for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentence; for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
For godly sorrow worketh repentence to salvation not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness is wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.
THIS WORKS BOTH WAYS…IF SOMEONE CHASTISES ME IN LOVE WITH A GOOD HEART MOTIVE I CAN HAVE THE EXACT SAME EXPERIENCE AS OUTLINED ABOVE…WE ARE ALL EQUAL IN THE SIGHT OF GOD, AND THE LAKELAND ANOINTING WAS NOT JUST TRANSFERABLE TO FELLOW WORKERS IN THE FIVE FOLD MINISTRY BUT TO LAY PEOPLE WITH A HEART FOR GOD LIKE YOU AND I….Thanks Todd!
Update MAY DAY MAY DAY ….
I guess for now, for a season, and I personally hope it doesn’t last too long God!, my ‘anointing’ is to yank up carpers or rugs and sweep out what is under them…to open closets and invite people out into the light…to see dem bones dem bones dem dry bones come back to life. There is a scripture that says What is in the darkness will come to light, and that which has been secret will be revealed…
Nobody likes a whistle-blower or a tell-tale-tit whose tongue will split! But, like gossip, it depends on the motive. Mine is to heal. To set free. To vanquish hypocrisy in myself and others. And to reconcile. It’s good to ‘gossip’ good news!
I don’t think I am alone in having been hurt in churches along the Way. Doesn’t matter what century it is or what denomination, we humans hurt each other…
I went to a little Baptist Church in picturesque Suffolk which had a youth revival, of 200 full members in the tiny church, 125 were under 25 and on fire and real fun and real hurting people. About 5 committed suicide and that was awful, but we need to focus on the 120 that turned their lives around…
One deacon used to refuse communion to the teens who had nipped outside for a cigarette, which they often did, this Church thing was new and scary to them. But an hour or two later he could be seen drinking a pint in a local pub. He was obese and had what looked suspiciously like a beer belly. One brave teen said at least to the others…my nicotine addiction is just the same as his gluttony…
A labourer that worked for my ex husband was married to a settled traveller. He came from a fighting drinking family and was 3rd generation on the dole as a way of life. He pulled himself up by his boot straps and went first on a Back to Work scheme, learned the trade of brick-laying, and finally earned enough to support his wife and 6 children it was a miracle for him. His mother and one of his sisters were rumoured to be occasionally ‘working’ girls. And they wore tight mini skirts and loads of make up, his Mam had a better figure than me! But she had not stepped inside a catholic church since a priest some years ago REFUSED her entry based on her looks and lifestyle. SHE was exactly the kind of woman Jesus would have embraced and allowed to wash his feet with her tears!
I got lost along the path of my life for a while. God always has a Plan B until we get back on track, like satellite navigation systems saying RECALCULATING RECALCULATING when we take a wrong turn! So I was married and living in Ireland and my husband and I had gotten planning permission to build on land my father ‘gave’ me. We were honest on the mortgage application, possibly foolishly so, and declared a bankruptcy my husband had filed years earlier in England before we married. On those grounds our mortgage was refused, and we were not persistent enough to try elsewhere. With hindsight I believe that was the hand of God because if we had done the whole build a house beside my parents and have a huge mortgage thing, I may never have found the courage to leave the marriage, which I KNOW for me was the right thing to do.
But anyway, around this time, we attended a Kenneth Copeland conference in Belfast. One Word from God can change your life….and one of the things that stuck with me was Ken saying, ‘If you don’t have a good church, MOVE!’
So we did! We met someone at the same conference who spoke glowingly of her church in Dundalk, and how it had a private school attached which had a curriculum called ACCELERATED CHRISTIAN LEARNING and turned out to be brilliant. Their music band was fabulous and their youth group vibrant and fun and dynamic. Seemed perfect. (I love that saying, ‘if you find a perfect church don’t join or you’ll spoil it!)
We walked away from the 4 acres my father promised us but never signed over. We walked away from the planning permission secured only on appeal and so precious. We walked away from the dream of a family compound in Oldcastle. We walked away from the latest contract Paul had just secured to build 200 houses.
We took 3 horses and 3 children, 2 jeeps and a horse box and a dog. We miraculously found a place to rent that accomodated all. (God has ALWAYS provided amazing rental properties for me all over the world, facilitating horses children day care businesses whatever where ever tailor made!!)
We took our kids out of school and enrolled them all in the small school attached to this growing, dynamic church in Dundalk. Most of the leadership were from a catholic background, and the Pastor was an absolutely gifted teacher who could unwrap and expound on the Word of God like few I have heard. He was good looking and probably in his late 30’s, with a cute wife and 2 gifted children. He also had a fabulous home, far and above his natural expectations of life…
The school was phenomenal, education is one of my pet priorities in life, and this one translated and shone in comparison to state schooling. When the kids later transferred back to public schooling they were assessed as being between a year and a half to two years ahead of their peers. The discipline was loving and powerful, the culture of love and respect was inspiring, and the tiny class sizes obviously beneficial. My kids blossomed there and it was my biggest regret about moving that I had to take them out.
Paul became an usher. I was recognised moving in the gift of prophecy and being groomed for preaching. I have always had an evangelistic heart and straddle the secular and christian worlds in terms of reaching and touching people. The Church outgrew its’ building which housed about 200 and needed a new home to house between 500 and a thousand. The Pastor took a long lease on a local building and it needed refurbishing totally.
I had ‘witnessed’ to horsey friends of mine and they ended up joining the Church. The husband was a dynamic go getter kinda guy and threw himself into everyhing he did, with great success in his business. He took 3 months off work voluntarily and project managed the entire refurb of the Church. All the labour was done by church members including my husband, and the job looked like it cost hundreds of thousands on completion.
About a year into our cosy new christian life, I invited a teenage friend of my daughter to stay with us Monday to Friday to attend the Church school. Her parents had divorced acrimonioiusly and the commute was hard for her too. She was showing signs of going off the rails, so I borrowed a pony for her from my Dad and embraced her into our country life at the foot of the Cooley Mountains.
It was her mother who told me that she felt I should know the Church had recently ‘gotten over’ a huge scandal. I guess she was sick of me waxing lyrical about how wonderful the Pastor was and how perfect the Church…or maybe she really did confide in me out of a sense of unease. Seven families had been expelled from the Church apparently, for refusing to stay quiet about the scandal.. One family being the Pastor’s brother-in-law and the Youth Pastor.
She told me how 2 women had come forward…one saying she had had a full blown affair with the Pastor for more than a year, and the other, the young wife of a trainee preacher in the Church, saying how the Pastor had sexually harassed her ongoingly in the most distressing, graphic and inappropriate way. When she disclosed to her husband and other Church members she was publicly denounced by the Pastor as an alcoholic mad woman. The Pastor shockingly advised the young adoring husband to divorce her. When I interviewed her, her husband was in another country and the separation looked permanent. Desperately sad. And the woman was traumatised that her husband had not believed her.
The other woman I interviewed (I had previously worked as a journalist and no way was I going to leave such a shattering story uninvestigated) was the woman who had indeed had a long affair with our supposedly lily-white, happily-married, internationally-respected Pastor. The details she gave and the background and everything about her story had the total ring of truth to it that a journalist as well as an abuse survivor learns to recognise. She told me more disturbing details of cheques from American churches made out to Pastor that were never disclosed to the Church…of the Pastor and the school Deputy Head, who was a beautiful single woman and gifted with the children, being seen kissing passionately…the horror went on and on.
Neither woman was anxious to be named in any journalistic expose. They had suffered total humiliation and shame being thrown out of the Church and ostracised by all its members. And disbelieved by their spouses. The Pastor’s intellectual gifts were not limited to teaching the scriptures, he had been a formidable enemy and had apparently won.
I went to the pastor privately, told him of my discoveries, assured him an expose was not my goal, and asked simply that he acknowledge the truth both to me and the church members. That he allow the elders to decide how long he should step down for. And that the expelled families be apologised to and re instated. The only family I had left to interview at this stage was his brother in law, who had moved to Galway after the debacle, and started a new church there. I absolutely wanted the pastor healed and re instated as quickly as possible and would have maintained respect for him throughout that procedure, he was brilliant at what he did.
I was horrified when he denied everything, and threatened to throw me out of the Church also, if I dared to go to Galway to interview his brother in law.
I don’t respond to threats, I am a born rebel. Maybe i should have shut up for the quiet life, and in obedience to the scripture about not murmuring against God’s anointing…but again I see the hand of God in my ‘rebellion’ I never wanted a quiet life, I wanted a divine one.
I went to Galway. The pastors there confirmed my suspicions. We prayed. I left with a heavy heart. I pulled my children out of the school. Devastating for them. I took back antiques I had given the Pastor and his wife for their suspiciously wonderful home. I listened in horror as my husband told me he had been advised to divorce me by the Pastor when he went to collect my antiques. Sorry for the Indian giving God but it seemed justified at the time.
But my husband needn’t have bothered wrestling with that decision, his disloyalty to me had reared its’ head during this whole debacle, he wanted me to stay quiet so we could stay comfortably numb in this wonderful church which was rotten inside….
I discovered my husband had been compulsively viewing pornography online whilst I was away show jumping with the kids all over Ireland….I discovered his building firm was being held afloat by me, and as soon as I let go of the reins at his whining insistence, it collapsed, leaving debts of 100,000 and 20 men out of work. I discovered my husband was a fourth child instead of a partner or Head of the House. And I discovered what I had known since my wedding day…that I did not love him. And after six months of agonising, I finally found the courage to leave him. Well, he left and went back to England. Leaving me with the debts, the children, the horses and dog, the apparent shame, and the determination to survive it.
The Pastor meanwhile announced to the entire church that I was a witch. That they should not talk to me, and on no account listen to me. He scared them into submission and people whom I had counted friends looked at me with a mixture of fear and pity.
I went to the Irish Times and the Dundalk Democrat. The local paper read my dossier with great sadness and a certain amount of trepidation. Apparently the Pastor’s uncle had been one of the founders of the newspaper and a highly respected man. They were not however surprised at the revelations, and had heard similar stories for many years. They were waiting on my go ahead to publish.
The Irish Times the same…
I wrestled for months with myself over it. The pain of rejection and wrongful accusations was monumental and the urge for revenge was strong. I wrestled the same way I had years previously when an ex con who my mother had met in AA in California offered to have my daughter’s sexual abuser knee capped or murdered for what he had done to her.
And on both occasions I came to the same conclusion. I could not take revenge myself. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. I will repay. I did not want the Born Again Church community in Ireland disgraged nationally. I knew the whole church would be tarred with the same brush as this rogue pastor. I feared the baby would get let out with the bath water. Ireland was still reeling at that time (2000) from the clerical sexual abuse scandals in the catholic church and I just didn’t feel I could betray my own even a sinning one. With the guy who molested my daughter at her babysitter’s in California, I had him red flagged across America on police records; I made sure his family knew. A prosecution was not an option because my daughter was too young to testify in court as a viable witness. And I left the rest to God. Vengeance killing spirals out of control and decimates generations of young men like Sicily in a mafia feud. And I did not want to risk jail for myself or my well-meaning ex con by saying yes to a contract hit. Even at no expense.
I told both newspapers to kill the story and they did, possibly with some relief. If I had given it to a tabloid that might not have been so easy.
I just got on with trying to rebuild a life for myself and my children. And the Church in Dundalk as far as I know is still flourishing. God forgive them.
I got ‘saved by the bell’…a friend called. I must learn to ignore the phone when I am on a writing splurge, but as a Mum or young kids it could always be a teacher saying ‘come quick’, as in the other day when Josh bruised his chest wall at high jump!
So I will continue another day when the muse returns! Sadly there is another catalogue in this story of christians hurting christians and H’s church was not the last I was expelled from! It’s tragi-comic and I lived to tell the tale, but seriously….WE NEED TO PUT OUR OWN HOUSES IN ORDER!!
I forgive and am forgiven….where there is unity, the Lord commands a blessing.