When Pastors Go Wrong

March 23, 2011


I’ve decided to blog about this because it’s timely.  The bulk of this entry is an excerpt from a note I sent a sister regarding the scandal of a church we both faithfully attended for a brief time in our lives.  I’ve chosen not to identify the church because as a congregation, they are making significant progress in recovery from something that went very wrong.  I recently visited them and if I lived there now, would most likely join the congregation again.  The pastor in question, now no longer part of this congregation, was much gifted in teaching, and members of the congregation were apt to say things like, “Well, the pastor says this or that,”  as if because he said it, it had to be true.  He also attempted to engage in sexual activity with young men in his congregation–the trigger of the scandal that left the smoking gun. 

In this affair, for me, the real venom is the abuse of the ministry, the taking advantage of authority and power and quite possibly money.  This happens far more often than it seems and it’s association with homosexuality is comparatively rare.  Just like the vast majority of pedophiles are abusers of the opposite gender, the church leaders who abuse their authority and use it as a sexual hook usually are going after partners of the opposite gender.  We as a church and as a society seem to prefer to publicize the salacious media appeal of homosexuality–makes it a real scandal.  My point here is not to justify homosexuality but to focus our attention on the real evil and that is the pride that man uses to raise himself up above others, a pride that eventually leads to manipulation and control, often sexual, used to maintaining the status of power, not merely to get sexual partners, which is more likely a fringe benefit, I suppose. Sometimes it is used as a tool of control.

Do we not see that the problem is the one that is attributed to Satan at his fall?  We were aware of the pastor adoration when we were there at that church but it seemed the natural response toward someone who was so apparently gifted by God in the teaching of God’s word.  This pastor adoration stuff is so pervasive in dynamic churches is a kind of temptation that unfortunately many ministers do not resist.  Often at first, they give in because they think they are serving their congregations. People in congregations like to rely on the Pastor for his apparent strength and wisdom.  They struggle with the question, “How can I display my weakness when so many are counting on my strength?” I found myself in that situation in New York and that is why I took a sabbatical that ultimately lasted twenty years.  You see, once a minister starts hiding his weakness, it becomes hypocrisy and things snowball after that. I thought it better not to let it get out of hand when I knew I was far from the perfect example of Christian piety.

In the ministry, I’ve continually struggled with people looking up to me, thinking I had the answers when they did not,  asking me what they should or should not believe, do or say.  Whenever I speak, write, lead, teach or facilitate, I try to remind myself that I am a servant of the people who are listening, reading or participating.   We’ve talked about homosexuality at length and I want you to understand that I engage in that conversation, not because I want to justify myself or anyone else but because of the need for the conversation in the church.  Whether we agree or not at this point is not the issue.  Whether we can love one another the way He first loved us certainly is point.  As a Christian, I am perfectly comfortable being considered one of the least of his, as long as the “of his” is there.  Sure I like it when people tell me that they appreciate the things I say, do, or whatever and I must remind my self that it is only by his anointing that any of it is meaningful at all and that his purpose in that anointing is the service of them, not in the establishment of me.  One of the most humbling and the most freeing things I’ve ever said to a congregation was, “I don’t know.”

No one, save the devil himself, is served by pride and arrogance and our ministers, elders, priests, bishops, cardinals, popes and deacons would do well to remember that. I am a child of God by his grace not by my merit. Yes, I am his son as you are his daughter and that position is very valuable and important but it is the grace that is highlighted.  Now, to forget my son-ship would besmirch and belittle that grace; to use my son-ship to feed my ego, power and control is an act of pride rivaling that of the now fallen Lucifer.  Unfortunately, like an impressionist painting, the abuse of pastoral authority when viewed up close is a confusing jumble of brush strokes without definition.  Mistakes are made.  Which ones count?  But when we back away just a bit, the picture becomes clear.   We look back with hindsight and ask why didn’t we see it and stop it?  

My encouragement for you, my reader,  is to not expect or attribute great things of or to the person standing behind the pulpit.  Don’t rely on your pastor no matter how wonderful or great s/he is.   The pastor is human.  The pastor falls, sometimes has unchristian thoughts, and frankly sins quite possibly as often or more than you do.  We all walk with God and to place a person between us and God verges on idolatry and worse is unfair to them.  

In thinking back on my time at that church, I don’t know if it would have been different for this particular pastor if we in the congregation and kept things in perspective.  Surely he is responsible for his actions but we share in the conditions of that guilt by allowing him to assume and abuse the power. 

In the end, each of us is responsible for the lives we lead.  Each of us will be called to account.  We as Christians believe that the guilt worthy of punishment was nailed to the cross and for that we are greatful.  But the consequences of our actions in this life are ours to contend with.  If I rob a bank, I may spend the next twenty years in jail regardless of the grace and forgiveness of God.  This is the true service of a pastor:  To help us learn to live the ways of God in this life, for this life, not merely the one to come.

27 Responses to “When Pastors Go Wrong”

  1. Rich Croc said

    Well put Joe.

    • Sharon Lee said

      I’m not quite getting it!Beautifully written,but it is clearly a mixture of two worlds.I’m not hating on you Joe,but God is clear concerning these matters.I understand that God loves us all, no doubt!We all have issues that we may struggle with.But,adjusting the word to fit our fancy is not acceptable.The “Blood of Jesus”,is powerful enough to help us in every situation we may encounter.Sometimes its a fight,most of the time you will meet with resistance,but nevertheless,we run this race for His outcome in our lives,not simply ours.We must join in with what He is doing…We must join in with His truth,not ours.God is Holy!Adjusting the truth for ones own advantage is what created this mess.The spirit of manipulation,domination and intimidation is nothing more than a recipe for disaster.(It is a spirit of witchcraft)Eventually,it will expose its true nature,and when it does…What Else Will We Adjust?God says, we are to be hot or cold concerning such matters.God is love.He will never force His ways on us.If we say we love God,His opinions must reign supreme.I love you brother,and thanks for this platform!Sharon

      • Sharon, I don’t feel hate from anyone, especially you. Neither do I expect that people will agree with me or that I can convince anyone of anything. In John Chapter 5, Jesus told us that he did nothing unless he first sees the father do it. As for me, I was content with silence until God pushed me into the witness box. I am not adjusting the word tofit my fancy. It may look that way to a lot of people and I understand that and I resign myself to it.

        I don’t know what happened there after I left. I’ve heard rumors and some that broke my heart. Whatever it was, it wasn’t love. No doubtthat we knew love for one another, but it wasn’t love but fear that drove the wheel that drove the gears that lead to those dark places.

        When I posted this, I had mistakenly assumed that the healing such a thing demands had actually taken place. And I did not realize that it would go in the direction it went but praise God, Sharon. He had touched many of us as a result. I didn’t realize I was opening up wounds. And had I knowing, I might not have had the courage.

        While the pain I’ve caused others to relive grieves me greatly, I can’t help but think that our Father had something in it. You know, my dear sister, God wants to heal all of us who have been injured in his name. Those injuries are wide spread, not isolated to one issue or another. Ask a non-christian to list five characterists of a Christian and I’ll bet, loving, accepting, forgiving, and open-hearted don’t make the list.

        As I said, I was quite comfortable in my silence, not only in respect to this particular incident but in many ways. But as our witness has suffered for the sake of adherence to something that is only tangentially supported by scripture, we alienate those who might otherwise be attracted to our number and some who have have already joined us, find that while God’s love is unconditional, the love He apparently expresses through his “children” certainly is not. Has God’s love changed in the translation or are we wrong for misrepresenting Jesus in this planet?

        So I do have a choice, the open rebellion of silence or the rather uncomfortable position of proclaiming the unconditional love of God, even if it is extended toward those we think don’t deserve it, have shunned it, have abused or who frankly deserve all the discomfort they get.

        Either the gospel is true or it isn’t. You and I happen to be among the people who think it is true. We may or may not agree on the details but we know that everything that God “requires” of us is not meant to prove ourselves worthy of it but is and should be a fruit of what he has already done and accomplished, in full. It is finished.

        I agree with you entirely that “manipulation, domination and intimidation is nothing more than a recipe for disaster” It can cause nothing else for it’s source is pride on the part of the perpetrator and fear on the part of the victim. I remember our former Pastor saying these words. “I can afford to be closed-minded, I”m right.” Back then, we swollowed that because we thought he was right and if we aligned ourselves with his teaching, we’d be right too. Of this and all arrogance, I repent. I sincerely regret that I didn’t have the insight, understanding, wisdom or the courage to stand up and ask if He were nuts for saying such a thing. But from knowing this story and seeing it again and again in other churches, I have learned something that makes me free. I can comfort the grieving. I can comfort the mourning. I can place a healing balm on the wounds I perceive but I cannot allow myself to be sucked into a place of the kind of authority that corrupts. In my own life, the ministry to which God has called me, I constantly fight the idea that I am anything more than a servent, the least of His.

        When people tell me that I’ve helped them or that I have a gift for speaking or teaching, the temptation to think I am something special because God uses me is strong but one thought of what I’ve seen happen to my beloved brothers and sisters at our church back then and in others since, puts me on my knees and his Holy Spirit works to keep me from falling.

        Yes, you are also right. His opinion must reign supreme. I can’t say that his opinion always makes sense to me as a man. I also know that when I am saying or doing something which he thinks will be destructive, He’s very good at letting me know, even if I am not always good at hearing it until I’ve gone too far and have to bring something and lay it at his feet.

        I love you my dear sister. I love you tons. I love your husband and though I don’t know your children, I love them too.

        Joseph

  2. Mark Lee said

    Joseph,

    Your insight into this issue of pastors is spot on. I have dealt with many pastors who have elevated themselves above the common congregant. In fact the church that we just left has a pastor that disregards a lay persons wisdom or ministerial experience simply because he attended seminary and they did not.

    There seems like so much is wrong in the “church” that it seems overwhelming to the point of wanting to anbandon it, so O can understand when someone leaves the institution.

    Unfortunately or fortunately, God won’t give me that option.

    • Rich Green said

      Joe:

      I attended the church in question, for over 20 years, before I moved to Delaware to accept a new position. A couple of years ago, we received a visit from the family in question, who told us about this tragic situation.

      Yes, you nailed it! By no means do I excuse his behavior, but we have been guilty of idolizing this person. We have forgotten that the Lord has called us into a relationship with Himself. I respect and honor leaders, whom God has appointed for service. We are called to learn from them, as they are servants of the Truth. However, we, as fellow partakers of His Grace, are called to receive and act upon the Word. Pastors can not do this for us; we must receive the Word of Truth by faith, and act upon it.

      At my current church, I have the honor of serving as part the Timothy Ministry Group. In this capacity, I had the opportunity to share God’s Word before the congregation. Recently, during one of our ministry meetings, I told the group that God has called each of us into an intimate fellowship with Himself. To make a long story short: it was well received.

      Although we have not had the opportunity to return to the area, I still love the members – thanks to the wonders of Facebook! It is my prayer they will grow in their relationship with Him, and to allow the Lord, through the vehicle of a faithful Servant/Leader, to lead them into salvation (healing).

  3. Debbie said

    Very thoughtful treatment of a subject that is too often ignored. I think this is because church members are embarrassed to acknowledge their part in the creation of the situation. We want so badly to believe that somebody has the answers we seek, and it is easy to believe in a person we can see instead of a God we can’t see.

    • John Lehman said

      Well, 61 1/2 years young, why would a broken down electrican respond to all the above? one word – Love. After convincing my beloved wife, of 20 plus years to leave the church we attended for 17 yrs was a real heart wrenching decision. All the wonderful family we would leave behind, what a …sad state! I knew in my heart for 5 yrs or better, things were not on the up and up with pastor and the Gastopo leadership of elders who supported every word which came off the lips of the pastor, every idea. I knew I had to get my family out of there. No one would listen, even if you wanted to tell them. I knew this. Why? Because I was just an ordinary ‘electrician’ in the congregation, who knows only about ‘wires’. But I knew the manipulative spirit. I knew in my heart what was going on. I had no problem with the word of God, coming from the pulpit, but why was it so ‘deep’? Well, we know why now!! What damage was done over all those years by a man (and the church leadership) cannot be just swept under the carpet and everything will go on from here. If this person was not protected, he would be in jail. But not so. He is available to do it again!!! Having said that, I am trying to sift through what I have been taught throughout the years. It hasn’t been until I attended a little church on a hill in a coal mining town, that the LORD revealed what I was to learn from all of this. It’s NOT about the best music ministry, or about the best building and facilities, or about the best ministries in the body, or about the BEST TEACHING or the best home studies. It’s about a pastor who leads his flock and the premise of that is LOVE! The pastor’s love for his congregation causes a response from his sheep. The response of this is love. I am called to forgive this man and his leadership. Yes, I will forgive. But will I forget? No. I will not be fooled again. (By the grace of God).

      • Sharon Lee said

        Excellent,Excellent,Excellent!What you wrote is absolutely the truth.What you wrote was very clean and clear.If we want to advocate truth,let’s be clear about whose “truth” we are talking about.

  4. Kay Ann Lehman said

    All I need to say is that we are never really in a perfect situation. A perfect church or a perfect fellowship. But when you are not heard, because you are not thought of as ‘important’ enough or because you are not ‘intelligent’ enough, or because you are not ‘spiritual’ enough……….it’s time to leave that place. Many people knew what was going on, but were not heard. Many people knew what was going on, but were ignored. Many people were hurt, disillusioned, ‘bullied’, etc. so that the pastor could remain in power. Sorry, but this is called a cult. Face it guys, we were in a cult. And shame on the leadership for letting him use his perversion over and over. There I said it. It is inconceivable that these people can still lead. They are guilty too. My opnion, my opinion only, is that now the leader is out of town, no one will know. It that true?? Or man, did we all just duck a bullet? No press release, no arrest….shhhhhhh No one held accountable!

  5. Lee Ann, I see that you have been hurt and you are angry about this particular example. I understand that and I pray the Holy Spirit comfort you as I do all who were hurt. And you raise valid questions. I’ll bet there was some bullying going on. I’ll bet there was some shady power plays. I’ll bet that people were manipulated and driven and those who left may well have been shunned. Yes, more than cultish behavior, it is human behavior that is abused by cultish leaders.

    I, of course, wasn’t trying to open wounds but to bring attention to the greater issue of the abuse of leadership authority which often is generated in churches but is often expressed in more subtle ways. Male Pastors who, for example, take advantage of women in their congregation get away with this sort of thing far more often. Because it is easier to understand for the vast majority of the heterosexual population, it is more simply swept under the carpet and attributed to human weakness when sexual activity is actually just the red herring.

    In my thinking, the problem of this Pastor is resolved and accountability is now on God’s plate. If the law of the land was broken, there are consequences to pay but I am not in posession of such evidence and would not recommend making statements that without proof are actionable. I certainly don’t know what good a press release would have done save to bolster the position of those who call Christians stupid, bigoted hypocrits–a reputation we frankly merit based on our media worthy behavior of slandering and campaigning against entire segments of our population, refusing to look at today’s societs as essentially different from the first century and using emotional hot-button issues like abortion and gay-marriage to extract political support and financial gain.

    During my recent visit there, I spoke with many people that I love and cherish from my time at that Church. The scars of war, both internal and external, are evident. I spoke with some who are now in a kind of authority–they weren’t elders when I was there but have become and were part of the leadership team which took decisive action to resolve the situation of abuse–I am not under their leadership and have no experience other than my knowledge of them in Christ some 20 years old to suggest their capacity or lack there of for responsible leadership. It is for the people there to call them to task, not me as one who has gone.

    I would not presume to judge the situation either the past or the present based on my scant knowledge of it. I would and do presume to make known that the body of christ faces a much much bigger issue and that is the subtle misuse of authority that is far more common and far less exposed merely because homosexuality is not involved. (Homosexuality is a comparativley minor issue scripturally compared to the things that the church has grown to accept and tolerate as even normal. Shall we demand the immediate resignation of every pastor who has experienced divorce in his or her life?–an issue expressly spoken of by Jesus?) I am not crying out for increased legalism and rules but a greater walk with God whatever form that takes.

    Nay, my sister, we learn through this of God’s grace and God’s ability to repair, mend and heal. And I use it as a platform to cry aloud that Christians are responsible for their own walk with God, that we should not rely on pastors, published bible studies or megaministers because all looks well on the surface. We, each and every one of us must stand.

    I pray, earnestly pray for healing for all those harmed by this situation. May God touch and strengthen those who were abused and manipulated. May the families of those people learn to love and trust again, not in man but in the God they know and love. May God heal everyone who feels guilt for having allowed these things to come to pass either intentionally or inadvertently. May God shine his face on all who turn to him and may we all learn to love one another as he first loved us.

    • Kay Ann Lehman said

      I am not talking about homosexuality. I am talking about abuse of children. I am talking about innocent children taken advantage of. I am talking about leadership that knew this was going on and swept it under the carpet to let this pastor do it again!!! I am talking about deception. I am talking about deception not only with the pastor, but with the leaders who led us to believe we needed to only forgive and move on. Move on. Move on. NO!!!! We were told NOT to get counseling for the hurts and abuse we have gone through. Counseling would have opened up a whole can of worms now that we look back. It wasn’t until we left that body that we saw what we were really into. Self-righteous. No one could tell us the word. Not unless the pastor agreed. Not unless they attended our church. We were in a cult!!! Homosexuality was NOT the only issue here! I never said we should have a press release about it. I just said I believe the pastor was protected and made available to do his dirty work (deception, manipulation, child abuse and whatever). Don’t twist what I am saying into not loving. I love. I love the victims. I love the body. (That was the good thing from all of this) I love the pastor and hope he comes back to the grace of God, I don’t like being tricked and hurt and deceived and etc.

      • Sharon Lee said

        Amen Kay!Exposing the lie,absolutely does not mean the love of God is not flowing through you.Coving up the darkness,is a sign of deception and fear.If you can’t deal with the truth,move out the way and allow the spirit of truth(holy spirit) to dig in and thoroughly cleanse. God is not afraid of offending people.He knows that when,we,His people surrender to Him,great,great deliverance takes place.For thirty years this method of,don’t talk don’t ask,let’s move on,didn’t work.People’s lives were destroyed.When there is still hidden agendas,and a spirit of, I need a position more than I need water,I suggest,that’s a problem.Law,Law,Law…I’ve never seen freedom in the law.You are right Kay,the grace of God came to free us up,so we could make an intelligent decision to walk freely with God.God’s people must get out of their little religious box,and seek God w/o the pressure of your little religious group being outraged.My motto is, if your whole family function and look like “The Addam Family”,you think you are normal.There is a common thread that flows through many that have left these kinds of fellowship…FREEDOM,freedom to look at the truth,and to judge it according to the word of God.This will assure,that we will not duplicate this kind of deception again.

  6. Jim Henley said

    I want to say first of all say that I was a member of a church that sounds like what all of you have been talking about. Could we have been in the same church (smile)? I do have some keys to lay before my brothers and sisters that have been exposed to dark places. Take and eat, and pass it on. My testimony is that I was in a place where the pastor was slipping and sliding in homosexuality. The eldership was in a coma. People and families were leaving the church over the years. The anointing was not present. We were all in idolatry because we were putting the pastor and his wife in a position above what God had put them in. Yes, we were bewitched, under a spirit of control. I will call it what it is, witchcraft! The word that was ministered to us from the leadership was out of that same spirit of control. The fruit of that ministry was that we confessed that we were hearing such “good word”. Little did I know that I was being bewitched. My wife and I left a year ago and are in fellowship in another church. Our finances changed almost immediately. Our relationship with the Lord is beyond anything that it has ever been. Our marriage relationship is even stronger. There is an Apostolic ministry flow that poures out of us now. The Lord opened our eyes as we were obedient to what He was speaking to us.
    2 Chronicles 7:14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
    We ate that Word, and God did what He said. We fasted, humbled ourselves, called out to the Lord, repented of idolatry, and broke out of that place. The Lord healed us in so many areas, day after day, and week after week, for months and months. He has restored us and put us in a place beyond any place that I have ever been in all my life. Blessed be the name of the Lord!!! So I offer some keys to you if you have been in this same kind of bondage:

    Key#1: GOD IS IN CONTROL!!!
    No matter what we have gone through, leave room for God. He is the one that is above all rule and authority. Every leader (pastor, elder…) answers to God. God sees all, knows all, and is above all. That person or group of people will answer to God for their abuse of the sheep. No one has the right to abuse God’s sheep! You just make sure that your heart is right with God. Watch over your own heart. So, roll that situation over to God; cast it to Him. That burdan is too heavy for you to carry anyway. Bow your knee and open your mouth and start calling out to the Lord, He will hear you, and meet with you. Get rid of the stuff! Now walk in life and health. Check your body, because these types of calling out to the Lord will effect your physical body. You could find anxieties dropping off. Depression leaving. The joy of the Lord being restored. This is the beginning of walking in peace, you are putting your trust in the Lord.

    Key#2: ALLOW GOD TO HEAL YOU.
    Do not be so busy running away from your situation that you are not turning your face to the Lord and seeking Him for healing. He has a Word to set you free. Jesus has already paid the price for your healing. You must be focused on God’s healing for you and your family. Did He not set you free from a worse leader that your ex pastor? Did you not get set free from Satan and all of his bondage? God continues to offer deliverance from everything that seeks to capture you. THE PRICE HAS BEEN PAID FOR YOUR FREEDOM!!! RECEIVE YOUR FREEDOM!!!
    Do not get caught up in all the traps that are out there for people that have been broken into. What traps: anger, shame, depression, not willing to trust people anymore, unforgiveness, no longer walking with God (yes this is a trap that broken into people fall into). ALLOW THE HEALER TO HEAL YOU.

    This is a start. Let Jesus lead you out of darkness and into his marvelous light. God has a hope for you beyond all darkness. Jeremiah 29:11 is speaking to you right now; ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’declares the Lord,’plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

    We cry out for delivence and healing for all abused sheep. “Lord hear the cry of Your people and save them”.

  7. Wow, the emotions run deep and if that was what was needed, I’m guess it took me. I wasn’t really intending this conversation but if it had to happen. I will echo what our brother said.

    God continues to offer deliverance from everything that seeks to capture you. THE PRICE HAS BEEN PAID FOR YOUR FREEDOM!!! RECEIVE YOUR FREEDOM!!!
    Do not get caught up in all the traps that are out there for people that have been broken into. What traps: anger, shame, depression, not willing to trust people anymore, unforgiveness, no longer walking with God (yes this is a trap that broken into people fall into). ALLOW THE HEALER TO HEAL YOU.

    This particular situation seems to have gone well beyond the scope of which I am aware and I continue to pray and interced for all of you who went and in some cases continue to go through the miasma of this situation. I love you all and if I, a mere man, can love as much as I do, how much more is the love of our father in heaven which cradles every one of us whether we can see it or not.

    Can we allow the healing to come?

    • Kay Ann Lehman said

      Yes, we can allow His healing to come. It is a process. Many things have surfaced through the years since we left that we see were wrong. I am so thankful for where the LORD has us now. I was set free when we came to Florida and no longer sense ‘judgement’. We now are not hindered by believing that ‘there is no where else to go’. That and much more. We are not there yet and everyday we see our shortcomings too. God’s grace is sufficient. And we will all heal and help others heal on this walk here on earth.

  8. Paula Saylor said

    Well, as the lone voice of the people who remain (except for Rich Croce’s comment), I just can’t sit by and let the other voices be uncontested. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God’s will for me was to stay. Stay and watch God clean up this mess. Stay and watch the magnificence of God’s grace and mercy be displayed in repentance, restoration, and rejuvenation in people’s lives. Stay and watch Him transform my own life. To the people who chose to leave, I say run on with God, and be fruitful in the place He’s called you to be.

    It really does amaze me, though, when I hear judgments being passed on those who remain (although they would say that now they can discern correctly and that we are still in the dark). Really? Has anyone called me to ask how my walk with my Lord has been transformed? Has anyone, in love, told me that they are praying for the work of God in my life and in the lives of my church family? (With the exception of Rich Green!) Nope. So, you see, I listen to all of these comments with compassion for the speaker, but with a question in my heart concerning the motive. Sometimes I think that the general consensus is that God is willing to heal you, but not me.

    I say, GO. Run on, my brothers and sisters. But don’t underestimate the power of the blood of Jesus and His passion for His bride—–ALL of us.

    • I have, Paula. And I continue to do so. I love everyone who stayed and everyone who left.

      • I’ve approved every comment that has come in. I believe in transparency, This array of comments rarely goes beyond the scope of this little church and the events that plagued it, which was not my intention.

        I write now to the readers of my blog who are not nor ever were parts of this particular congregation. We have seen the damage such a situation can ultimately cause. God grieves on multiple levels, for those who were hurt, for those who feel guilt, for those who felt shunned for leaving, for those who felt duped, for those who stayed and bear the brunt of that decision.

        It is my hope that those who have followed this volley of comments but were not party to it in any part will see the ultimate value in transparency, in honesty, in encouraging one another to walk a walk of integrity with Jesus. I happen to love all the people who have chosen to comment because they are our brothers and sisters and because we shared a time in our lives when the love of God bonded us together. I grieve for having opened these wounds and beg forgivenes from everyone who has lost peace because of my blog entry.

    • Sharon Lee said

      Paula, I really find your reaction interesting! The power of the blood is not in question.God’s love for His people, is not in question either.The, “Has Anyone”quotation you brought up ,works two ways.All of us must realize that God has ways.He will deal with matters,of coarse,according to His word.I’m sure Joseph didn’t initially expect his life to begin the way it did.God used the hidden agendas of His brothers to catapult Joseph right into God’s purpose for him.You may not care about every persons story,or reaction,but God does.Situations don’t just end because we are irritated by them.God has given us a voice.He’s given ,you, me and everyone involved a voice.He didn’t just come for the sanity of my beautiful family or your beautiful family.He came for,Whosoever.Let’s not just continue to sweep stuff under the carpet.It’s not over because we want it to be over.Paula every week I hear case after case of people’s bleeding hearts.Damage that has been done to them.They never had a voice.I refuse to turn my back on them.This type of council is useless.Yes,we as a family have moved on,but I will not suggest to one person,just move on and get over it.God sees everything,He sees everybody…Everything that can be shaken,will be shaken,because God loves people.You and I don’t see everything,nor do we know everything.God will continue to challenge us until He gets the response that He wants.He didn’t lie to us…He said He would began with the church.As you seek God’s face,may He continue to help you.Much Love,Sharon

  9. Kay Ann Lehman said

    Just so everyone knows, I felt such relief in getting the opportunity to speak my mind. Only on a blog such as this would I have the opportunity. You can see that some still don’t understand what I am saying. I see that healing is going on with those who left and those who stayed. I am honest when I say that I am concerned for those who stayed in one regard. That you still accept the same leadership. ??? Sorry, I have a problem with that. When I left, I prayed for the church and I felt “Well, what should they do? Just quit and say, “We give up” No, even then, I felt that you move on and allow God to correct the situation” This was even before the pastor was publicly accused. I love you all. I am not above you all. I see you all still walk with the LORD and are growing spiritually, as am I. But, think about it. If I would have said what I said in this blog to your face or on the phone, you would not listen!! I would be the one who is ‘just not walking with the LORD’ and ‘just does not understand’. You know this is true. I don’t need to prove my walk anymore. I am not in sin to speak my peace. I don’t know why I feel so hurt. But 17 years. I came to that church because I felt I was getting what I couldn’t get anywhere else. For years my husband wanted to leave. My kids went to a school where there was absolutely no fellowship and the pastor (and leaders who were duped) said youth groups were wrong. Why? We know now. Anyway, I think I have had my fill of speaking my heart. I love everyone in that body. I know you all love the LORD. I am concerned. The Lord is the one who does the healing. He knows we all need it. Paula, I never called you or asked you how your walk is. I don’t need to. I love you. Thank you for letting me know how I was perceived. This was my opportunity, I felt, to speak my voice. Honestly, I feel real good to get it out in the open. I knew many would shun me for it. But maybe others would come to understand the depth of what happened here. Thank you, for the opportunity, Mr. Onesta

  10. Kay Ann Lehman said

    We serve an awesome God. Since I wrote all I did, I feel it necessary to say that God did a work in me & I am no longer angry. It is a process, & God wants to get to the root. I am thankful to speak my peace. I am thankful for the replies. Healing began to take place. God’s love is bigger than what the devil tries to throw at us. Something happened that is bigger than me ‘trying’ to overcome. God is the only One who can do it. When we open up and admit where we are at, healing can take place.

  11. Pieter said

    Dear beloved brothers and sisters, greetings in the Name of our Lord and Saviour.

    Reading this blog does affect my inner peace, it disturbs it. I know of the church and pastor in question as he came twice a year to minister in the church family I was a part of for 20 years or so.

    I think it is correct to say that evil was taking place through this person. But that person has moved on and it has come to an end.

    I think it is important to come to the point to leave it behind so that you are able to look forward, reaching for the good that is ahead for all those who are His ransomed and redeemed. How great is the good that He has stored up for those who love Him. His plans for all His children are His shalom, which some say is summed up in ‘nothing lacking, nothing amiss’.

    Israel was NOT to remember (call to mind) Egypt.
    Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt.

    Be careful NOT to hold on to what is NOT good going back to it again and again. I am not condoning it but just mention the danger to not let God take things out of your life through bringing it to Him in His light where all evil loses its power.

    It is also my desire that the person involved would know that I have been enriched through him for which I am truly thankful to him. It is my desire that he would receive Jesus’s love and forgiveness enabling true repentance and deliverance from ways unbecoming to a christian. He used to teach that Jesus is greater than all the problems in your life which I believe is true. Thus far I have never heard that he has found forgiveness and repentance.
    Love to you all, Pieter

    • I think it’s a healthy message, Pieter. Whether received or not, forgiveness is on constant offer to us and if we are meant to be as him in his world, we know that his example is one we should seek to follow. And in this case we learn to extend forgiveness and when we are able to do so unconditionally we learn something about the power and majest of God that will leave us speachless. Our God is truly and awesome God. I am sorry that you found the entry or the comments on this blog disturbing. It seems though that the shaking of your inner peace was an expression of love toward the people affected.

      I think there is a real difference between old wounds that have healed and old wounds that have not. Many of these folks have gone one, walked away from the past and have come to find a place of recovery from what one must feel is nothing short of a betrayal of trust both in a man and to a certain unspoken extent in God. For others who did not openly participate in this volley of comments, the healing has not taken place yet. For them, this conversation has been a frank and actually healing event. When I first posted my blog, I intended to deal with a rather broad and rife problem facing the Christian body today. I quickly learned, however, that God’s intention was both broader and, at the same instant, more specific than my own, blessed be he.

      Your encouragement is timely and well placed for a fair number of us. For others I think that “moving on” is akin to sweeping it under the carpet. I’m working on an entry that deals with spiritual scars and scar tissue and I hope you’ll continue to read and participate because I think you have something to say. Again, Thanks Pieter.

      Joseph Onesta

    • Sharon Lee said

      Huh….

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