crying over everything / goal as humans is to simply love / hurtful convo with pastor john

there's all this happy stuff I want to post about, but today has been such a painful day.

I've been feeling cut off from hannah, not because of any wrong on her part but just because of busyness and time not matching... and cut off from Ashley because she's been busy with Kevin for the past few days. And it really doesn't make sense that such a small thing should affect me so much, but *boom* I feel alone and forgotten. I'm so weak sometimes, but that's okay. I am sure they won't hold it against me.

And I went to bed late, then slept until Ben woke me (or so he thought) at two to go to the Renaissance Festival (Ashley had free tickets for us), and because I wasn't really awake I told him that I'd rather not go. Then I woke up for real at four and cried and cried because I was so disappointed, and it made it worse that it was my own damn fault for making asleep decisions. Either RenFest means more to me than I had realized or I'm just full of leftover emotions from other things... Then Ben and I decided to try to make it there, and got LOST on the way despite having been there many times with no problem. We would have had no time, so we decided to go home.

THEN we went to church, and I got very upset with the sermon, so afterward I went up to talk to Pastor John. One of the main points of his sermon was that 'reaching the lost' was our highest calling as humans. I told him that I think that is 80% correct, that sharing our truth with others and helping them find God was a huge part of our main calling, but that our primary purpose is simpler -- just to love. I believe sharing truth is a huge part of love, but it is not all, and it is not the most important thing. I referred to Mark 12:30-31 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." The verb in these commandments, the commandments that replace old testament, is LOVE. And Jesus himself said that there was NO GREATER COMMANDMENT. That should be pretty clear! Love is primary, love is first, love encompasses anything and everything. The Bible also says, "God is Love" -- how then can there be ANYTHING greater than love??? to say so is to say that something is greater than God. 1 John 4:7-8 "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:16 "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." LOVE is our calling, our purpose, our reason for life! PJ listened at first, nodding as I spoke of the importance of love, but when I said it was more important than 'reaching the lost' he didn't agree.

He started talking about being 'fruitful' and went on for a bit about how he had seen more people get saved since he gained his new way of looking at the goal of life, and I realized that we have a fundamental difference. I don't love people with the goal of leading them to Jesus, I love them for the sake of the God that made them and the amazing, phenomenal, unique, incredibly valuable spirit that they are. Whether or not they turn to Jesus is NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY. That is THEIR choice -- my responsibility is just to offer as much love as I can, and if they ask, to tell them what I know of how to reconnect with God.

My voice was shaking because I am passionate about this and it is very hard for me to stand up to Pastor John because I respect him so much. But I was okay until he said something about me not growing, because I am not in a home group, and he sees no fruit. He asked if there was anyone that I 'discipled', anyone that would feel utterly lost if I died right now because they would have lost such a force of God in their lives. And thinking of some of you, I said yes, there are. I may not go around evangelizing, but I believe that I DO show the love of God to people and I DO think that they recognize the God in me and see him more clearly for it. And whether or not that is true, I do have some kind of positive effect because I know people would miss me, I know some of you would mourn me, I know a very few of you would feel as if the ground had been ripped from beneath you. I know that because that is how I would feel if I lost you, and I think we have mutual bonds (no bank pun intended). And he said that I hadn't grown much, and I said, "well then you don't know me well because I have grown amazingly in the past few years." and he said, "oh, yes, personally, inner healing, but not winning the lost" -- I thought, WTF, is he seriously not impressed by my growth? but I was thinking that he was dumb not to see it, and it didn't bother me. And then he said that Ben and I have no pastor and no church family (because that is part of the home groups thing, to be a member of the church you must be part of a home group), and I don't think he meant to be mean, to him it's just a term, but I felt incredibly rejected. I love him and see him as a mentor/father figure, and to hear him say that felt like I had been disowned by a father that I loved and admired. It ripped my heart out. I feel like this church IS my family, and I felt like he was saying, "you don't do what we want so you don't belong." Yes, I think home groups are the essence of the church, but I HAVE tried to be part of them, two different groups, and just haven't connected. He didn't ask why, he didn't say, "this is what I think would help you grow the most," he just said bluntly, "you don't connect so you aren't a part of us." He said he was our friend, but not our pastor, because he can only afford to give pastoring to those who connect. And I felt very very judged and rejected. His wife was standing next to him, and I think she wanted to interject, but she is a very shy woman. I didn't dare look at her because I knew her compassion would make me cry. A few tears slid down my face and she got me kleenix, which made me actually start crying, so Ben and I left. I hope she explains to him how I felt in a way he can understand. How can a man so full of love be so callous?

But I am not going to let one judgmental conversation scare me away from a church that is the most loving and multicultural that I have ever visited, or reject all the truth he offers just because he is wrong in one area. He is just human. He has flaws, and I do not trust him like I used to, but I still admire him and think he has a lot of wisdom. Just not in the same areas I do. And I will not let my contrary side keep me from connecting with my home group, which is what I wanted all along, just because he judged me rather than seeking to help. I will do exactly what the fuck I want, what I believe in.

I am hesitant about posting this because I don't want people to think ill of John. He has a lot of good in him, but he's human, and (by his own admission, often) says stupid callous things. I just really really hope that I can manage to forgive him and not feel alienated from the church. I know I need to email him about all this, but I am afraid he will react like my dad and say something to the effect of, "oh, well sorry you were hurt, but you shouldn't have blahblahblah" and Ben pointed out that that is me judging him, but anyway I can't do it right now because it is too fresh and hurts too much.

Ben and I had loooooooooong twisting painful conversation about all of it, but ended up with supporting each other and realizing that we are both on the cusp of major change. He's such an amazing husband, without him I just wouldn't be. And he's growing so much.

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talkingpotato ══╣lurvesu╠══
*hugs* to love
Didn't Jesus say the most important thing was to love your neighbor as yourself?
Sometimes I feel like I'm a poor excuse for someone of my faith since I'm so shy, I don't preach to people. Whenever people ask me questions about my beliefs, even then I get shy and answer vaguely.
You were so brave to go up to him, I think that shows you HAVE grown, and I feel he was very out of line in saying to you the things that he did.
At the end of the day I hope people remember not just..the fact I don't take blood transfusions or don't celebrate the holidays but the love I showed everyone. That regardless if people agreed with me or not, I'd still love them.
spaz_ums ══╣╠══
Wow sounds like HE'S not showing the love of God very well. He probably hates Gays too.
girlblue_77 ══╣╠══
I'm so so glad that you realize your pastor is wrong, instead of questioning whether or not you are wrong. Because I think you are absolutely right, and I think he is looking for growth in the wrong places and he DOESN'T know about the message of love you are spreading. You have created a community that is helping hundreds of girls love themselves, some who are trying to recover from EDs. I believe we were all lost, in a way, and I also believe that this is one of the few communities that is actually 100% love - loving ourselves, loving and loving each other. There is really no cattiness, or trolling, or judging. I know it's just a LiveJournal community, but seriously, it's a beautiful, magical place. And you created it. You are saving the lost!!
ex_alariya46 ══╣╠══
I wanted to let you know that I really want to comment on this, but I want to do it at a time when I am more able to sit still and think, and right now I'm at a computer away from my house.

I will make you this one offer, if you're interested. I know you'll have an hour lunch at work, and what if I came in there and worked on your register for two hours or so? I think I could be okay standing for that long, so long as it would be okay with Polly. Maybe not, but I would be willing to do that for you if we could get away with it.

I love you. Unconditionally.
ex_alariya46 ══╣╠══
Well, you know, I say I'm going to wait to respond, but then I find out that I didn't really mean that.

One thing I want to say is this - to go out and share the message of salvation with people IS to love them. It's to love them enough to share the words about your God with them. I think that Pastor John is focusing on the actual action rather than what should be the motivating factor behind it. I know that, historically at least, it has been very easy for me to focus on the action rather than to focus on the attitude behind it - but the attitude behind ANYTHING is ALWAYS more important than the action in the long run. Maybe on the phsyical plane that would be incorrect - but in the after life, most definately.

Yes, it is important to share God with others. But then I also passionately agree with you - the best way to do that is through love. And the intentions of sharing God with others, even if you are evangalizing, should NEVER be to "make certain that person is lead to Christ". One of the most amazing things about the way that we believe is that other people are not in charge of showing us what is right and correct - that is SO the Holy Spirit's job. Just like those personal beliefs that you have - if any of them are incorrect, I am not responsible for making you change your mind. As a fellow Christian and a lover of your soul/spirit/being, the only thing that I am reasonably responsible for is pointing out to you, in a kind and loving way, when you are doing something that is harmful to yourself or to others. Though I am coming to believe that if you are ever being unkind to another person (the 'you' in this sentence being rather general and not, persay, directed towards yourself) it is because there is a problem with how you are viewing yourself. If you are totally in love with yourself and loving yourself, then you are doing damage to yourself when you are cruel, and you know that so you keep from being negative and cruel.

I think that's one of the most amazing ways that God designed us - when we are mean to other people, it affects us just as negatively as it affects the other person. So loving other people as ourselves is a matter of great importance as we cannot love other people UNLESS we love ourselves. Or something - I feel as though that sounds rather convoluted.

But basically I wanted to encourage you and share with you that I agree with your definition.
ex_alariya46 ══╣╠══
I love you!!!!!
Foither more (pronounced in my best cartoon voice) I love you very much. I apologize that I have made you feel forgotten, even though I did that unintentionally. You are my closest, most intimate friend, and I cherish every moment that I get to spend with you, no matter how short.

Next year I will make sure to come directly to your house and give you the tickets. Or better yet, I will wake you up myself, throw some belly dancing clothes upon your beautiful figure, and toss you over my shoulder and into my car. :D *kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss* *carress*

ex_alariya46 ══╣╠══
What, hoping I'd be finished commenting yet? *impish grin*

I also wanted to do my best to try to comfort you in regards to your pastor. I think part of his problem right now is that in some area of his life he has closed himself off, or there is a block in that place. He did not hear at all what you were trying to say last night - perhaps he had his feelings hurt that you disagreed with him because he felt so passionately about his belief, but it is not your issue if you hurt someone's feelings unintentionally. When it is brought to your attention that you were hurtful then it is your responsibility to show love by not acting in that manner again (I think, but then perhaps I am not entirely correct in the amount of responsibility one human has for another). Regardless, I really do think that he didn't hear anything you had to say BECAUSE OF SOMETHING THAT HE WAS NOT DEALING WITH. That's not to say that he didn't try to listen, but the fact that he would call your maturity into question sounds almost farcical to me, as I have seen you grow myself in several areas of your life.

And you want to know something? Based on my own personal observations, you shine. People are drawn to you like moths to a flashlight in the middle of the night - only you don't zap 'em, you love them, and if only just once (and I'm not saying with everyone, lest you feel as though I'm accusing you of perfection), they feel what it is like to be in a healthy relationship with someone, or they see what a Christian with real love and real acceptance is like to be around. And just from being around you, people want to learn more about you and see what you're all about. In doing that, they learn about your passionate love for your Savior and how you have grown - you are open about everything. You reach people who want to be reached, people who are ready to hear, and you love on them for it.

I feel as though one key point against evangalism in any form is that in essence you are telling people that the way they believe is incorrect. That is NEVER the best way to go about things, I don't believe. For example, I will respond better if you come to me and lovingly say, "Ashley, I would like to show you a way that helps me really well... do you mind?" rather than "Ashley, OMG, you are so wrong in the way you are doing that!!!! You are going to burn in hell!!!!! Bad, BAD Ashley!!!!!!"

Also, periodically, people are 'led' to Christ, and then dumped as there are no methods, on many missionary trips, to show people what it means to be Christian (the love topic, really, is the basis of Christianity). So it's like taking a drowning person out of a raging river and dumping them on the side of the river where they're 'safe' but with out provisions or directions on how to get to where it is they need to go. Some people sorta slip back into the river, the back of their mind occupied with thoughts of, "Was that it?" "What was I supposed to do?" and things of that nature.

But, I feel like I have commented muchly, and I wanted to give you lots and lots of support and love on you, which I will continue to do when I see you in person on our date night. I'd be happy to continue the conversation then, if you'd like. *loves on Bel*
katielilie ══╣╠══
Based on my own personal observations, you shine. People are drawn to you like moths to a flashlight in the middle of the night - only you don't zap 'em, you love them...And just from being around you, people want to learn more about you and see what you're all about.

SO true. I haven't had the pleasure of knowing you for very long, and I still have much to explore about the person that you are, but your friend's words ring true, I (as well as many others) am drawn to you. I find you fascinating because it is so clear to me that you love yourself, and in doing so, you truly love others.

I spent six years in Catholic school, in my World Religions class our teacher (who, on a sidenote, was quite brilliant) summed up each religion with one word, for Christianity, that word was "love."

I love you. You are clearly a talented, beautiful, loving woman. In my opinion you are a shining example of true Christian love, home group or no. Just out of curiosity, what exactly is a home group?
armandii ══╣╠══
Although I have no faith in any religion I felt compelled to comment. Some may describe me as an atheist, and in so far as I do not align myself to any man made religion I suppose that is the case. What I do subscribe to is goodness, kindness and love, and in creating this community as a place of goodness, kindness and love, you have created something wonderful. If God does exist (and I do not know one way or the other with certainty) I do not imagine any pastor has a hotline to him or her, and it is plainly evident that you are a loving being doing good things.
lilerthkwake ══╣╠══
Bel, I can't tell you how closely Pastor John resembles my former pastor. Now, Bob, my pastor, was quite literally a sick and evil man, and a rare occurance (I hope, I believe) in the house of God and in this world. But his ideas about evangelism and the church were pretty mainstream--I've heard them taught at other churches and by other Christian leaders, which is one of the main problems I have with organized Christianity--and it seems that Pastor John subscribes to these same teachings.

I'm so proud of you that you are able to see that Pastor John is not necessarily right in this instance. I wish I had had enough faith in my own wisdom when Pastor Bob began working to tear me down. I wouldn't have suffered the way I did if I'd been able to recognize that he was NOT right in some of his teachings, and that he was being HURTFUL to me and others, which is never Godly.

I agree with you. We are told that the greatest aim is LOVE, and after spending so many years trying to be "fruitful", I found myself exhausted and misdirected. I found myself, literally, unable to love. I pushed people to "grow", instead of caring for them and truly loving them. I don't want to spend my life like that anymore, especially since I am PROGRAMMED to love. I'm the sort of person that just adores connecting with people and feel that's my highest calling and the way that God used me most effectively. Yet I allowed myself to be influenced by judgmental, rigid, literalistic and pharisaical dogma and that began to destroy my heart. I've had to spend the past three years rebuilding it, and I still have a little ways to go.

I'm glad that you're not just blowing up and blowing out of your church. Take your time and try to find your place in the home groups. You obviously love your pastor and the church. I would say, though, to continue to keep your eyes open, and don't think you're wrong if you ever feel that you have to leave. I have seen so many sick and dying and destructive churches that I know that sometimes you HAVE to save yourself from the pain and drama.

Out of curiosity, what kind of church is this?
me by belenen
invisibleglue ══╣me by belenen╠══

You are loved by many.
paradigm_shift ══╣╠══
I dont agree with everything the church teaches. Sometimes I feel like their motivation is politically driven and that is unfortunate. My relationship with god is something that I have developed on my own which is based on pure love so I think you know what you are talking about here.
sidheblessed ══╣╠══
Someone famous once said "Love is the law, no matter the religion" and I agree wholeheartedly with that. I believe there is no greater power than love and in my understanding of Christianity, loving your fellow man is what matters at the end of the day. I always understood spreading God's word as spreading his love around - his mesage was a message of love and by sharing that love you're sharing his message.

Even though I'm not Christian, love for ALL living things is very important in my spiritual beliefs. That and healing and helping but that's another story. ;)

I'm sorry your Pastor was so judgmental but I'm glad you're taking it so ositively nomatter how much it hurt. *hugs*
beautymess ══╣╠══
Sounds like you dealt well with all of the hurt you've been feeling by talking to Ben about it. I hope you're feeling much better now.

The incident with your pastor looks like a communication breakdown to me. I think you took what he was saying in the wrong way. He didn't seem to mean to be attacking you or to be negative toward you, but he wasn't very receptive or conscious about how it would appear that way to you, I think. From what you said, it seems like he is trying to draw you in more and challenge you, but you took it as an insult and a rejection. Like I said, he could have been more gentle with you, but he is human and wa all have our faults.

I hope you can forgive him and come to trust him again and that he learns to be more sensitive to others.
anar_anar ══╣╠══
Forgive me but what is a "home group" ?
juansrx ══╣lem1╠══

  • Hitotsu: Love is more than "oh I love you!", love is also deeds "res non verba", I think that leading other people is a worthy preocupation...we all know why...of course, in one or another way every disciple was encouraged to do it in one or another way, however, this is not only preaching, it´s also what others see in you, what do you do for others, etc.

  • Futatsu:I´m sorry about the RFest...what´s an RFest???

  • Mitsu:Don´t think that every sermon is a separated stand-alone module,everything is connected armonically in a perfect way

  • Yottsu:You are not alone, you have a lot of people that loves you and tries to do it´s best look at all these post by example!!

  • isutsu: Remember, your pastor tries to do in the best way he can the job that God gave him

I hope this can be usefull

anyway it´s just an opinion...
gods_ornament ══╣╠══
darkpool ══╣╠══
I think that you are right and your pastor is wrong. The only way to realy "evangalize" people is to love them anyway. Only God can change a person's heart, you cannot and it's not your business to. People who say the evangalism is the number one thing are (IMO) saying that they can push people and make them change their hearts towards God, which is not true.
This strikes a personal note with me. Being a preterist I don't believe that we are anymore called to take the gospel out to the world. That has been fufilled, and it says so in scriptures. It no longer applies. I really don't think much of the traditional idea of evangalism, I really don't think it reaches people, I don't think it's necessary, I don't think it's something we are called to do.
When you love a person, sometimes a loving thing to do is to introduce them to Christ, sometimes it isn't. Depending on where that person is in their life. Even if they may become a Christian later now might not be the best time to talk to them about God. If you don't love them and know them first you aren't going to know that.
"Winning the lost" is not something that indicates growth or not. You could not be a Christian in your heart and still be "bringing people to Christ", or you could be a mature Chrisitan and never have brought anyone to Christ. People have different gifts and for some it might be to evangalize but that certainly doesn't mean that that is what everyone should be doing. If you had a burning passion to bring people to Christ but say never had because you were to shy then yes, one could say you hadn't grown but that's not the case.

So bottom line, I agree with you and think your pastors response was totally inappropriate.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
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Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.