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Reeling

Our church is stunned right now. We’re walking through one of the most difficult challenges our body has ever faced. One of our own, one of our respected leaders, has confessed to hidden sin. A beautiful wife and young daughter, coupled with a life of immorality and years of deception, all carefully hidden under a “godly veneer.” We are reeling from the pain and sense of loss. The destruction is deeply personal and the shock visible.

We’re trying to make sense of it all, but it makes no sense.

Sin’s cycle of destruction never makes sense. 

How can one who appeared to follow God, to be a sincere follower of truth, to know and love God, and even be in the position to lead others in worship of God . . . how can that one be leading a double life?

How can that happen?

How do we process what has happened? 

This event needs to be a spiritual wake-up call to all of us. It definitely has been for me. It has given me an even greater understanding of the pervasive and deceptive nature of sin—even in a believer’s life. You may struggle with the question of how a “believer” can go that deep into sin for such a prolonged period of time . . . but the real question is:

How have I not fallen captive to that level of deception as well?

Or have I, but the sin is not as easily recognizable?

The very nature of sin is self-deception. We clearly see the process in Genesis 3. In the beginning of this young man’s life of deception, he first determined that he didn’t want to let his parents down, didn’t want to hurt them, so he crafted a “good boy persona” that allowed for strong outward compliance and an appearance of “godliness.” By his own admission, he wanted to experience God in the way he saw others experience Him, but he rarely felt like God was connecting with Him, so he erected a barrier of resentment toward God and any seeming “spiritual growth” he experienced came through mimicking the spiritual examples in his life.

How can this level of deception occur? 

When an individual develops a hardened heart toward God (for whatever reason), they are extremely vulnerable to temptation. Without a strong love for God, we have no reason to turn from our selfish desires.

The progression of sin always begins in the heart: James 4:1–4 

As we yield to our selfish desires, we develop a greater taste and even hunger for sin. As we commit that sin, it begins to enslave us; we are under its control: Romans 6:12–14

The longer we go in darkness and deception without confessing our sin and seeking out accountability and help, the greater the stronghold of sin becomes in our lives, and the more lies of the enemy we believe. Rather than developing the mind of Christ, we begin to take on a mind of deception.

For those who are affected by the destruction caused by the sinful individual, this kind of horrific event can only be processed through the grid of God’s sovereignty.

We must cling to God’s truth as never before. God’s purposes can still be accomplished, even taking what was meant for evil and using that to bring about His glory in the situation (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20).

The only thing that is holding my heart and mind in check is the truth of God’s sovereignty. 

This did not take God by surprise.

God brought this to light.

God grants the gift of repentance and grace for recovery.

God can get glory from the most horrific events when hearts yield fully to Him.

We can’t trust the individual who has lived a lie for years, but we can trust the God that is at work in his life.

Trusting and praying for this fallen brother. Will you join me?

23 Comments

  • Chris

    Praying for you all. We truly can only trust God. We are His vessels of healing and hope. . . .not that this will pass but He will be drawn near as you all pass through these deep waters. Your words were true, He knows, He is there and anything we do that reflected Christ, no matter of our sin, His works stand. My dad had an affair after 17 years of ministry, starting from our basement to 3,000 members(later had another/divorced my mom after 34 years-but God healed those relationships and eventually my dad accepted His Saviors forgiveness-we all had already done so-my coming to know my Savior because of my dad’s ministry is true, Jesus is real and He heals all wounds). No it wasn’t quick, but in the end as the youngest of the family, I have had a ministry of reconciliation that few can understand –even me sometimes. Remind people about who Jesus is and what He does . .. love while sinners, forgive while we are sinners . . . He is our only hope. Truly will lift you all in prayer . . . continually. Jesus is trustworthy. People . . . not so much!

  • Tambra Lucas

    Praying for my brother , because I love him. Not excusing the sin, but the love of God in my heart burns with a desire to see him restored. But also praying for all of us that need to take a closer look at our own hearts and that we would fall at the foot of the cross where it is dusty and dirty but there is undeserved mercy and grace awaiting and that we would repent and seek forgiveness. Praying that God would bring revival. Without repentance we are dead in our sin. And if we are dead in our sin, there will be no revival. And no matter who we are, not one is incapable of sin than the other. The question is who of the sinners will be honest before our God and with others and repent? God is a gracious God ,none of us deserve His mercy not one. If we want God’s forgiveness of our own sin, we must forgive others. True love for the brethren is unconditional. That means loving them even in their sin. That kind of love is God’s love. Either we have God’s love or we do not. If His spirit truly lives in us that kind of love will be displayed. It is displayed on the cross by Him, that’s why we need to cling to the foot of the cross so desperately, because when we have repented and been forgiven the dust clears and we can see God again for who He is Holy. We must not allow the love of Christ in our hearts to be cooled by the enemy deceiving us into worldly lust in our lives. The cross reminds us of what real love is, the cross reminds us we are all sinners saved only by His grace not on our own works but by the work on the cross! That’s why there is a cross!
    We all need the cross!

  • Jennifer

    Reading this reminds me of a walk that I have faced in my own marriage, infidelity. At first all I could see was the pain and deception. Truth is that we are all in the same boat….We are all just inches away from denying Christ as Peter did or from betraying Christ as Judas did. We are all broken people in a broken world willing to throw Christ on that cross to protect ourselves or please ourselves. How can we not have grace for our brothers and sisters? It took me a bit to understand that Christ poured out his grace on me without stipulations. He loved me more than I loved Him and so I must love others in the same. This includes for me the woman whom my husband had the affair. I have come to love her and pray for her salvation.

    Romans 8:6-8 “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

    This reminds me even to this day that even though my husband was in the flesh, I cannot respond in the flesh. I cannot allow my flesh to separate me from God. My mind must remain on things above. Our marriage is an amazing example of the love and grace of Jesus Christ. We are both closer and more in-tune with God than ever before.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello Chris ~

    Thank you so much for sharing with us your story. It is encouraging to hear from one who has experienced this kind of pain and disappointment, but who has also seen God’s beautiful redemption. Praising the Lord that He has given you a vital ministry as a reconciler, that is so needed!

    Thank you so much for your prayers, so appreciate it ~

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Yes, precious friend, the cross–that is where I find my hope, strength, and true perspective in navigating these painful days. Thank you so much for your prayers, praying for you as well~

  • Chelsea

    This hit me so hard tonight. Just today I learned of a good former Sunday School teacher, who has now turned on their family and God. It’s so sad, and no one can believe it. Our hearts are confused. Praying for your friend to come back to the faith, and would appreciate if you’d pray for mine.
    I must say the timing of this post just had to be designated by God!!!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello Chelsea ~

    I am so very sorry to hear about your friend and I am pausing now to pray that your friend will not be able to ignore God’s convicting Spirit. May you see God accomplish a miraculous rescue for His glory!

    Thank you so much for your prayers!

  • Vivian Etherington

    Oh Kim! Remember God’s story in my life! He IS able to bring beauty out of ashes; an intense love for Him that wasn’t there before; real repentance…. My heart is grieved for you and your church body! Remember that just 3 months ago my church body walked through the same thing. I know in some measure exactly what you are walking through. May God use this to bring real revival there; to knit your hearts to His and each other as never before. I know He is working! It is through pain that we know Him deeper and cling to Him more tightly. May you sense His dear presence keenly. I love you!

  • Mary Jo Mayfield

    May God erect a tower of His grace and mercy in this sad sinful situation. May I continue to lift this family up as each have need. And as I would wish to be so loved and so met with compassion concerning any unrepentant sin in my walk with God. I pray for a cleansing turn from his sin, to a new found wisdom that can only be built in us in direct correlation with our obedience to the Father. And Kim, I pray for a healing in the church. And for the heart/hand of fellowship to be extended with the same grace we each, ourselves receive from God. In Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.

  • Maria

    As a Born Again, I can say that I do admired This Family for having the courage to open up they’re heart and cry out or even if just the Lord exposed the sin, it will be an amazing testimony that God is giving them to be able to help others that may be in the same situation! Satan will never attack the worldly people, he is always pointing the finger at the one inside wanting to do Gods will! My prayers go out to this family. Love you Kim, you have been an inspiration to me since I came to meet you in Florida last October, love to met you again…. may the Lord continue blessing you and yours.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Yes, Viv, remembering the beautiful work of God’s grace in your life is a huge encouragement right now. Thank you so very much for your prayers, dear friend ~

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello Maria ~

    Praying God will do that! Thank you so much for faithfully interceding ~

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello Jennifer ~

    Thank you so much for sharing part of your story here. I know that it will be an encouragement to many. Praising the Lord for the beauty He has brought from ashes ~

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Thank you dear friend ~

    That has been the most amazing thing in all of this, to watch her unwavering faith in God, her maturity in a response that is looking to God’s glory, with not a speck of self-focus. Please continue to pray for her to continue to experience this supernatural hedge of protection from her Heavenly Father. We are intensely ministering to her as a body, but we cannot heal the deep pain and sense of loss she is experiencing. We are trusting God to hear our prayers and accomplish a work that will bring Himself great glory (Ps. 66).

    May He do more than we can ask or think! (Eph. 3:20–21)

  • tony

    I love all these posts! It’s saturated with God’s grace and mercy. My church also had a similar experience with a youth pastor. We all need to learn from these experiences. I concur with the statement “we are all inches away from sinning”. Our friend and dear brother who is now restored says “we are all one step away from stupid”.
    One thing I’ve learned in the light of all this is that knowing we are all capable of grievous sin we still put people on pedestals. And when we put people on the pedestal of “oh they would/could never do that” we don’t pay for them like we ought. The bible says pray for your leaders NOT just expect that they’re all good because of their position.
    While the sole responsibility lies mainly with the sinned participants, we as a church body and family need to take some responsibility on the prayer and intercession part. Our leaders have targets on their backs that we do not sympathize we when we have them on that pedestal. And we need to be holding their hands up like Aaron and Hur held Moses hands up.
    For leaders, we need to have true Godly non-judgemental friends/brothers (or sister’s if your a female leader and I said friend because accountability partner sounds too much like a sin manager) in our lives. Now a days much of the church is very judgemental and a leader’s choices are very, very slim on who he can turn to to share his deepest darkest temptations BEFORE they turn into sin. I mean how many leaders if tempted one day with sleeping with their Secretary can go to ALL our any staff member (same sex) and share that without that person thinking down our less of(judging) them??? Remember,the temptation is NOT the sin. But woe to those who have no one to help them when they fall.
    Satan can bring about a weird temptation or what seems to be off the wall, is there a safe haven for each and every leader in every church for them to get prayer to get help for that evil spirit on their back? We would even judge the UN fallen just because of what some of them were tempted with. It’s sad but true. Think of what your pastor could tell you that would make you blush (judging) and you see why some great leaders end up falling with what we perceive as inconceivable sin.
    I’ve been through enough warfare in my life I judge no-one in regards to variety of sins. We are ALL capable so how about we get rid of the pedestals and the taboo and get real with each other and intercession.

  • Justin

    Tony,
    I whole-heartedly agree with what you have said here. I too have experienced the devastation of sin in my own life and the life of my family. I can now see how important it is to be accountable to others at all times. Not just as a “sin manager” as you put it, or as a judge, but as friends that can be confided in with our deepest struggles. God calls us to this kind of accountability in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another”. We must have people in our lives that we can share our struggles with to seek prayer and accountability. We have all fallen short of the glory and are sinful by nature. To think anyone, including our leaders are above this would be foolish. We must remember that being in leadership does not make anyone less vulnerable to sin. However, it should push us to be fiercely defensive of our purity of mind. Paul talks about this very fight in Romans 7:15 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
    With that said, through Christ, our debt has been fully paid and in order to take a full on posture of repentance in our lives we must fully embrace this. Accountability is not weakness, it is wisdom. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Very encouraging!

    What a Savior!

    Justin

  • tony

    Thank you Justin for your comment. I appreciate it and sense the Spirit who works in you and through you. Good bless!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello Tony ~

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and sharing your thoughts here. It’s a blessing to have godly men joining in the discussion.

  • tony

    Thank you for sharing about anything and everything. We need ministries like this. Most important, it needs to be happening our personal lives with us being the church, giving AND receiving. I appreciate your time and ministry.