Skip to main content

PSR (Post-Series Reflections) 1

One of the things I didn't really address throughout the series was the state of my personal spirituality. So, now in my reflections post-series I'll confess:

I'm probably further from God and Seventh-day Adventism than I've ever been since making my personal commitment to God as a Senior in Academy. Can I blame this on the series? Not totally, not really, maybe not at all. I am the only one chooses how I will react to my circumstances (Thanks Dr. Phil) but at the same time I can't help but be impacted by what I went through.

The crazy thing is that I don't believe or accept any of the things that were said and done that has negatively impacted me. I reject and wholeheartedly disagree with these things but I still can't get past them. The whole time there, I felt like there was kind of a dark cloud hanging over me and I still feel that way. I feel much better, but it's still not left me. What are those things:

1. I don't want to read the Bible. The Bible was used as a hammer to show everyone how wrong they were. We never looked at extended passages of Scripture to understand the stories and context of passages but used proof-texts from here, there, and everywhere to support our beliefs. I can't pick up the Bible without beginning to argue with both Evangelicals and Adventists.

2. The Great Controversy -- I mentioned several times that there was a strong sense of spiritual warfare going on. One of the problems is that any disagreements would be seen in the light of someone speaking for God and another for the Devil. I began to feel like God was not victorious and the Devil had all kinds of power to destroy us. Everything was black and white--God or the Devil and there was little room to struggle and disagree yet still be confident that God was leading.

3. The character of God -- We were told several times that executive angels are watching our every move, recording all our sins and they don't make any mistakes. There was a lot of judgment and little Jesus and grace. I feel beat up, discouraged, and fearful of God.

4. The only thing Adventism has to offer is the Sabbath. The whole series really seemed to be about getting people to stop worshipping on Sunday and get to Sabbath. In the process we lost Jesus and I wonder if we think Jesus can be left to the evangelicals but we have "more" to offer. Theology was done by showing how wrong everyone else was and not showing the beauty in what we beleive.

5. I'm tired of church. Over one month, I attended over 25 services, most of which lasted 2 hours with hour and a half sermons. It didn't leave me thirsty for more but was too much and given me no reason to go to church for a few months.

I know this will pass with time. I wanted to share this because I don't want to fall into the trap of being a pastor that pretends like everything is always going well. I want to be real and show that all of us go through the same struggles. Pastors aren't always in love with church either.

I'm worried that spirituality and religion seem to be headed in opposite directions which we can't let that happen. I believe in the church with all my heart but right now, the church has gotten in the way of God in my life. This seems to be a common refrain, especially amongst Young Adults, and unless we start bridging this gap, I'm afraid for the future of the church, but also for the spirituality of many people who can't find a spiritual home.


Anonymous said…
Trevan, Don't let them take the faith and the Church from you! Those who manufactured the experience you've had do not have the right to define the Church or the faith! This is the "priesthood of all believers." Your spiritual experience, rooted in what happened to you in secondary school, is more important and more powerful than all the stuff you've had dumped on you. It is natural to go through a time of spiritual development which is based largely in cynicism and to feel cut off from God, and it is essential for you as a pastor to experience this in order to achieve some spiritual maturity. You must work through this and come to a place where your faith is centered in Christ, not in doctrine, nor Bible, nor Church nor spirituality. Those are all secondary to your relationship with Jesus. The only reason we slog through all the rest is because we are deeply commited to following Jesus!

Much of what you have experienced is shaped by the cultural background and upbringing of key individuals (the ministers involved). Your ministry is going to issue from your experience and cultural context just like theirs comes from their context, but it is going to be quite different. God wants that and needs that. Faith and ministry are played out in the crap-pit of this world, not in some pristine, nice location. People get used to the mud with which they are familiar and in their minds turn it white as snow. You have had the experience of coming into this context and really seeing honestly "the emperor's new clothes." Remember, that is how God see us, and He still loves us enough to give His life for us.
Anonymous said…
"I'm worried that spirituality and religion seem to be headed in opposite directions ... the church has gotten in the way of God in my life."

I've noticed that trend as well, It's like the way that, for some students, school can get in the way of true learning. The approach today leans strongly toward memorizing facts and being taught to pass a test rather than truly learning to understand the subject.

Unfortunately there are so many Christians of every denomination that loose sight of their relationship with god because they've gotten distracted by going through the motions of religion.

There is a disctinction between "the church" as a body of believers in Christ and "the church" as a denominational organization. And only one of meanings is the one that actually matters.
j said…
"Trevan, Don't let them take the faith and the Church from you!"
Anonymous said…
Hey Trevan I agree with what you have to say especially concerning the spiritual life.I know for a fact (amazing fact?) that my spiritual life took a big hit by just being in the series...which is quite paradoxical coz arent you expected to have had a spiritual high by just being in the 'spiritual atmosphere' of the series? Well, or is it a (spiritual) let down of sorts?. I sincerely hope that this isnt the case with all the workers who were there!
Moses and Trevan: Field School was one of the lowest points in my recent spiritual life. I felt such frustration. I have never felt so much condemnation for my ministry efforts. I have never felt so unappreciated and devalued. Somehow, telling myself that I can learn from the negatives didn't help as much as our teachers thought it would.
Ramone said…
Hi Trevan,

This is Ramone Romero. I don't know if you remember me, but I was in Heather's class and also my mom worked in the office at TA for many years. I found your blog here from a link on one of Johnny Ramirez's pages (his brother John was my roommate when I was a missionary in Osaka, Japan, from 1999-2000). I live in Japan now with my wife, Yoko. I see you're also married? Recently? Congratulations either way!

Anyway, I just wanted to write and share my sympathy with your feelings in this post. I've been there, if you know what I mean. The Bible was hard to read, and I always felt like I wasn't measuring up, so I just wanted to give up. But I couldn't help feeling like God was somehow real... somewhere, somehow.

You wrote that "In the process we lost Jesus and I wonder if we think Jesus can be left to the evangelicals but we have 'more' to offer." For me, however, I didn't quite understand the "Jesus" part as well as you do now. I didn't know Him and His grace. It was a relief to finally meet Him.

I just wanted to say I understand, and I wanted to share what--or rather, Who--I've come to rest in since then. But this is where the point of "divergence" will come, and I wish I could spare you the knot in your stomach and the likely fear you'll feel after I tell you everything: I've left Adventism. I let it go and am resting in Jesus Christ. I love the Bible. It make sense, and His Spirit is real. I mourn because I know how awfully freaky that probably sounds. If I had heard it ten years ago I would've freaked and felt like someone was tempting me.

Nonetheless, I wanted to extend a Christian hand and say that I understand what you've felt, and if it's any comfort, I'm praying for you bro.

I wrote about why I left on my blog here. I hope I did so with love and grace. Through the Scriptures and the Spirit I've found that Jesus Christ is the Sabbatismos, the Sabbath-rest. We rest from our works in His finished work. He is our perfection. He is "The Lord Our Righteousness", it is Him the Father sees when He looks at us. We have complete "Sabbath" rest in Him. The "day" was a shadow of this rest that we have in Him, the perfect sacrifice who became sin in order to give us the free gift of His righteousness.

Anyway, if you have read this far, maybe you won't mind taking a look at my site, but if not, that's okay. But I would make a small reply to Monte's comment above (Those who manufactured the experience you've had do not have the right to define the Church or the faith!)... it sounds good, but the problem is that the founders of the church/faith were of the same kind who gave you (and me) the harsh and graceless experiences. This is why most Adventists who love God's grace spend proportionally smaller amounts of time reading the historical Adventist literature---it doesn't know the Gospel of God's grace very well, and sometimes not at all (like prior to the 1890s).

Sorry to have written so much, and I pray for your healing in Jesus and your rest in Him. He loves you, He loves me, He loves us all, and He's done it all for us. Truly, truly, this is "good" news. (^_^)

Blessings in Him,
Ramone Romero
trevan said…
I've invested too much in the church and don't want to allow certain people to "steal" Adventism away. It's my desire to help the church come to healthier understandings of who God is and how we can best communicate that.

I think the frustrating part is that while there are many people who feel the same way I do, it seems that most of the influential people in the church view Adventism quite differently. I'm finding that my experience and understanding of God is quite different and in some cases completely different than other Adventists. This isn't necessarily wrong because I think we need a good diversity but the key is that everyones experience and understanding needs to be respected.

Ramone, thanks for sharing and I did check out your blog. It sounds like God is really blessing and leading you and I wish you all the best.
Anonymous said…
I felt the same way as Trevan, Moses and Jon. I think that we tend to focus on the do's and don'ts because we don't have clue about how to reach the unchurched. In some ways we haven't really understood the concept of grace and righteousness by faith. This is sad because the Adventist church went through before. I think we as a church need to realize that we need to bring people to Christ. I think we should have spent the first two weeks in San Francisco on getting to know Jesus.

Popular posts from this blog

The Advent Struggle -- Part 2

There's been a lot of excellent discussion on the previous post. I've stayed out of it for the most part to let everyone else let their thoughts be known. I thought I would write another post explaining my thoughts in a little more detail. There has been some discussion over this issue of style versus theology (At least at the very beginning). I think I might have used that terminology and I want to clarify that I reject the false dichotomy of style VERSUS theology because our style and methodologies REVEAL our theology. The methods we use to present a message tends to reveal as much about the message as the message itself. In no way do I believe that all young adults want praise music, full band, nice lyric graphics projected, etc. However, I think that the 90% (no real data just a guesstimate) of Adventist churches who think of that worship style as being from the devil reveals one of the major issues at the heart of the crisis -- The Adventist response to culture. The tradit

The Advent Struggle

I've been trying to write this for literally a month but haven't been able to. Not sure why but it just hasn't flowed. So, here's the attempt: On a regular basis, I hear from or about friends who have stopped going to church. There are numerous reasons why they are leaving but one common thread seems to be a feeling that church has become meaningless. They've felt this for a long time but kept going because they hoped it would get better or just because they'd feel guilty if they didn't. But, they aren't going to play the game anymore. The young adult exodus out of the church isn't news to really anyone but there's something important that I think will make this crisis be more severe. When you examine recent Adventist history, there have been several crises of faith including EGW and Inspiration, Desmond Ford, and Creation/Science (to a small degree). What are the characteristics of all of them? 1. They are based on a doctrinal position and are v

A Jehovah's Witness Connection

This morning I was enjoying last night's episode of "The Daily Show" (THANK YOU TIVO!) when the doorbell rang. I couldn't figure out who it was through the peephole but I decided to answer the door anyways. A man had a little pamphlet which he gave me and asked me to read it and left. No pressure, just leaving it with me. So, who was it? My initial reaction was that it must be a Jehovah's Witness but I've found most of them are much more confrontational and never just leave something in your hand without arguing over something. I began to think it might have been an Adventist. Well, what did the pamphlet look like and what did it talk about? The front declared, "The End of False Religion is Near!" Inside it described false religions as those that meddle in war and politics, spread false doctrine, and tolerate immoral sex. On the next page, what did I see but decpictions of scary beasts and the scarlet woman of Revealtion. The text describes how false