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pursuing the upward call with fear and trembling

just a 44 year old man seeking to share my meanderings with the world at large or the blogosphere at small

Friday, June 04, 2010


I find restored to be a multifaceted word. It has so many connotations. Restored to a former state of being. Restored after having been broken or damaged in some way. Furniture,dolls,appliances,cars. These things and so much more can be restored in such a way they appear as brand new. You would never know by looking at them they were once in need of repair. How true is this of people??

I saw Ted Haggard and his wife very briefly on the Joy Behar show. I then went to his website to read about what has been going on with him recently. It was very interesting to read he and his wifes story and how they underwent a journey that had many extra trials in addition to his repentance and seeking counseling and accountability. A lot of assumptions were made about ted and a whirlwind of controversy especially since he was a high profile church leader facing a scandal dealing with sex & drugs.

I hope and pray Ted his wife and family are enjoying a restoration of true fellowship with Jesus and people. His story always hit home personally for me in a way because I had a personal sin involving sex which led me on a journey, one which i still am on . I have talked about this before on here but just felt like revisiting in thinking about restoration. I was in my second year at seminary, seeking a Masters of Divinity in Pastoral Counseling. I really liked my classes and my major professor, although having lived in southern california since 12 years old right near the beach, being in the middle of Illinois with NO mountains or beach of any kind, it was a lil rough lol

Youth Ministry was what i got my BA in at Bible College, though in my senior year I realized that it was not what i was truly cut out to be. Psychology had been my initial choice at je college and i had done really well, even being encouraged by actual psychologists who I took classes from. Math was always my nemesis though and i had such a fear of statistics and math I felt i would not be able to achieve my psych degree and ended up turning to ministry. I decided to see if i could get a youth ministry position while in seminary, as a way to prepare for a future assistant pastor position. I was hired by a small church in Illinois, some really wonderful people in that little congregation. Not much had been happening in the youth group and they hoped i could bring some life to it. I did find that the kids responded to me and a couple of them who never showed up to anything, actually came to a movie i showed!!!

The Sr Pastor wanted me to go to the local jr high and high school and talk to some of the kids there at their lunch and break times. Jr high and the beginning of high school were disastrous years for me and my inner fears of rejection and unattractiveness stirred in me at the thought of this. I felt like all the kids would laugh and ignore me wondering who i thought i was to to come see them at their school. This was not rational thinking i know. I stayed at a house owned by the church on friday through sunday, and my insides just churned more and more thinking about what would happen at doing this. I recalled a number i had seen in my paper on california that was a phone sex number. I rationalized my fears and uneasiness and decided to call the number as a release. Little did o realize how many times i called the number as one call lasted only 2 minutes. It became addicting to get more after being cut off. The phone bill of course showed up at the church, they discovered the nature of the number and i was asked to resign.

Restored. I felt like a total disgrace to God and to the church I had been hired at. Not to mention my seminary, all my professors and friends, my home church and all the people there, my family. This post is longer than i thought so i will be making some more soon. I still ask God this question of being restored. Thank you for reading.


At 12:40 PM, Blogger Aphra said...

Wow, that is harsh.
I am completely with you on the going back to high school to hang out not being an appealing thing. It may be to a more extroverted person. This goes into the area of how much should you be stretching yourself for your ministry. I mean it is good to try things out of the box and to overcome fears, etc. but it shouldn't replace you playing to your strengths.
I see that trying to avoid something could make people make bad choices, but to completely cut them off for a mistake? Where is the Grace in that? Would God do that? If we make a mistake he doesn't kick us out of His family. My heart goes out to you that they dealt with you this way. We all make mistakes and there probably is more growth in a person who learns from them and this person could be more value to you later. I hope you moved on to a healthier Church setting that is built on redemption, forgiveness and grace.

At 3:56 PM, Anonymous mariam said...

You know on the range of sexual sins, this was pretty mild. I don't know if there is a young male living who hasn't indulged in some thing of this sort, whether viewing pornography or phone sex or pleasuring themselves to Playboy. It's not exactly noble because you are objectifying another person for your own gratification but it's certainly not the worst you could have done. I was afraid you were going to tell me you had a sexual relationship with one of the kids! Now that would be a difficult thing to face. Sometimes I think Christians are more susceptible to this sort of temptation (although most non-religious people wouldn't even view it as morally wrong) because they are made to think sex is dirty or evil and the forbidden fruit becomes even more of a temptation.

My brother's new girlfriend is very Catholic - she is Vietnamese. She goes to church several times a week and prays several times a day. But she surprised me the other day when she said that she hadn't been to confession in over a year. She said that she didn't really think she had done anything very wrong and that when you went to confession every week after a while you started to make things up to tell the priest or make things seem more serious than they were. She said this made her feel bad about herself and she was more likely to sin because she started seeing herself as a bad person. She is a very sweet, gentle person and she also said something that I thought was very wise. She said that if Jesus was alive on earth today he would not have so many rules and he would not want us to feel so guilty about our little stumbles. She said that Jesus loves us and understands us and wants us to be happy. This simple statement to me cuts to the heart of the nature of God. He loves us, understands us and wants us to be happy. This does not mean that anything goes. He loves every person and all his creation so He does not want us hurting or destroying ourselves, others or any of His creation. And just as I love both of my children I may get angry or disappointed with them when they hurt each other, or themselves, or other people or creatures. I want them to be the good, noble, loving people that I know they are at their best. And when they stop whatever hurtful thing they are doing and make amends all is forgiven because I want to make them feel good about themselves. Surely God is at least as loving and forgiving as me. And your church should also be like your family. I agree with Aphra.

At 3:59 PM, Anonymous mariam said...

One other story:
I think I've mentioned before that my daughter was sexually abused by a friend of ours and this has had a tremendously negative effect of her. Part of the reason for me to become a Christian was so that I could forgive and let go of the hatred I had for Him. As part of this journey I joined a reconciliation group for sex offenders and victims. It allowed me to vent but it also allowed me to see the offenders as people - extremely flawed people, but people in need of love and forgiveness if they were ever to become right with the world and able to move on with their lives in non-destructive ways. Many of those offenders came from rigid religious backgrounds where they were made to feel very bad about themselves. Others had been abused themselves - often by rigid religious people. Others simply came from chaotic amoral backgrounds. And other were what I would call morally, spiritually and emotionally retarded or sick. They completely lacked empathy for other human beings - it was as if a piece of them were missing. They lacked a conscience. But, for the most part the offenders were flawed human beings who made a terrible mistake when they were in a self-destructive or extremely traumatic time in their lives. Or they had urges - like pedophilia - for which they had no outlet and over which they seemed to have little control. What I learned from them was that they were not that much different from me - only the nature of their sin was different. If God could forgive me, I should forgive them. People who have not realized this yet are spiritually immature, just as I was (and still am, but perhaps have grown a smidgeon) - and you need to forgive them and pray that God blesses us all with more judgment and understanding.

About a year after I started attending the church that I attend now, I realized that one of the regular members was a teacher I had worked with 20 years ago who was a pedophile and had been convicted on molesting dozens of boys between the ages of 11 and 15. I knew that some of those boys went through very rough times in their lives - turning to drugs and other self-destructiveness. At least one committed suicide. And yet I also knew that at his heart this man had not meant to hurt anyone. I was practically ill and didn't know what I should do. On the one hand, I knew that sex offenders require community support in order to keep from re-offending. On the other hand, it made me sick to think of the possibility of him molesting a child, especially when I knew, first hand, the terrible consequences of those actions. At the time there was one boy, a very beautiful boy of about 13, who came to our church. All the other children were much younger and I therefore did not consider them at risk. But I worried a great deal about that one boy. When a scandal involving a local youth pastor and child pornography broke in a neighbouring parish I decided to talk with our priest. She did some investigating with the local police and said that there had been no further charges against the man and he was no longer on police radar. She was very grateful that I had come to her, so she didn't inadvertently allow him to be in any sort of position where he would be tempted. I wondered whether I should leave the church as I didn't feel comfortable but she urged me to stay. She said that my presence there would make him stronger, as he knew that I knew and would be less likely to step astray. So I am civil and pleasant to him but I keep my distance and I watch him like a hawk whenever there are children around. I have not disclosed his past to other members of the congregation but I would if I thought there was a risk. I need to be reminded of forgiveness every time he and I talk - although we have never mentioned our shared past. So you see, Robert, even the worst of sexual offenders can be redeemed. Your sin (if it can even be termed a sin) is miniscule in comparison.

At 8:43 PM, Blogger Robert said...

Aphra- thank you very much for your words of compassion and grace. Most of the people in that church were very gracious and loving, but the elders feared i might do something to the kids and is why they had me resign, and i am sure they never told the congregation the exact reason for it. I am in a church now which is as what you talk about :)

Mariam- man i am like gary so wishing you lived nearby so i could meet you f2f lol (and your family) The stories you sharfe are so good and true to the core of Gods nature. I guess because i have a mixture of no relgion/catholic/charismatic/christian church theology all mixed in me together i struggle as i do. I know in the overall picture of things my occurrence was failry minuscule, but it destroyed my ability to do what i thought my lifework would be. We are our own worst enemies so often. Thank you for always being so uplifting and challenging my friend :)


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