04 Jul Please Do Not Go To A Bible College 2

A few years ago, I posted a blog, Please Don’t Go To A Bible College. I wrote the article after teaching at a small Bible college for five years and noticing many students committing themselves to thousands of dollars in student loans to earn a four-year degree, which could only land them a job that

  1. a) had nothing to do with so-called ministry and
  2. b) they could have gotten with their high school degree — “Would you like whipped cream on top?”

At the time, I got a lot of feedback on the post, especially from some of my former students. However, a few months ago I received the following long email from David. A young man I’ve never met. To keep this blog as short as possible, I have only included the Reader’s Digest version of David’s email.

Mr. Afshar,

I’ve read your article on not going to Bible College over a dozen times. I agree with you 100%. You have one of the very, very, very few articles on the internet about this subject and I decided to finally email you asking for two things: 1) advice and 2) you write a follow-up article.

After high school, being terrified to be out of God’s will, rather than joining the military to work on nuclear reactors, (An ASVAB test had highly qualified him for that position.) David, who comes from a Pentecostal background, felt he was called to be a missionary, so he went to a Bible college.

After finishing college, he tried to go to Japan as a missionary, but all his plans failed, so he tried to pursue a Master’s program to, as he put it, “…bring another skill to the table…” It was then that he found out his former Bible college’s accreditation was so poor that the only school that would accept him for graduate work was a seminary.

After the door on Japan closed, he applied all over the country for a youth pastor position while “volunteering everywhere like crazy” trying to build up his resume. But he was turned down everywhere mostly due to being single. He couldn’t find a job even at McDonalds or Starbucks.

Today, at the age of 32, David is back to school again starting from scratch. None of his credits, even English, was transferable. He has three more years to complete his BS. He’s already been awarded the engineering student of the year, been put on the board of directors for a non-profit organization that gives scholarship to qualified students, has an internship at an aerospace company, and is waiting to hear back from NASA regarding a grant for a summer project (According to his last text, he got it).

If it wasn’t for the following, we could all say, “All’s well that ends well.” However, this is not the end of the story. David continued with these sobering words:

Going through all of that has left me in a bad shape. I am cynical about the things of God. I have trouble seeing God as someone who is good and blesses. I constantly struggle with disappointment, disillusionment, anger, and regret. I remember countless sermons on hearing how God will, “open doors”, “bless my sacrifices”, and etc. My anger is affecting my schoolwork now (My 3.81 GPA will drop down considerably after this semester). I don’t have a dating life because no women in her mid-20s to mid-30s wants to marry a guy who doesn’t have a job and won’t get one for at least three years. I did ALL the things I was told to do and this is where it has left me. I’m ashamed of having gone to a Bible college, and these days I do not tell people.

Because I had many students who went through what Dave is experiencing — and I’m deeply sorry to say that some now consider themselves to be atheists — I wrote another post a few years back to deal exactly with the above issues and questions. Please see, Modernity, Post-Modernity, Metanarrative And….

In that article I showed how the church, in general, has made God a being who operates like a computer: by correctly using a set of programs and algorithms, God will give you the right answers. And if the answers are not what you expected, it is due to your insufficient input (lack of faith, sin in your life, not reading your Bible enough, not praying hard enough, not being present at every church service, not tithing, and…) and hardly ever preparing us for the reaction of a sovereign God whose answers might often be, “NO.”

Dave ended his email with these questions,

How do I move on? How do I get past the regret and anger? How do I get into a good relationship with God? How do I let go? Do I need to see a therapist and who would I see or how do I find one? How do I heal? How do I deal with being sexually frustrated and not being able to do anything for at least three more years and when it is slim pickings in your 30s?

Could you please write another article in case there is anyone like me, who is going through the same thing?

Since receiving this email, I’ve spent a good hour talking to Dave on the phone. He’s a brilliant and articulate young man. I don’t know how much I was able to help him. That’s why I need you to help me answer the above questions. What would you say to Dave? Please give me some practical advice and not just spiritual clichés.

Comments

comments

26 Comments
  • Jason Vanbuskirk
    Posted at 22:29h, 26 July Reply

    As a follower of Christ I ironically now find more solace in Nietzsche words than the words of pastors. Yes, the man who declared that God is dead and wrote The Antichrist brings more comfort than those who have dedicated their lives to speaking for God.
    “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”
    Friedrich Nietzsche
    This is unfortunately the new meta-narrative of Christianity. A place where grace and mercy no longer exist. The harshness that leaves sinners with the guilt of not fixing themselves. Contemporary Christianity is a place where God’s children bitterly forgive people. Fear reigns here. Fear begins to drive our actions because we are scared we will lose God’s favor. Judgment and arrogance follow.

    I recently heard a Christian at a breakfast diner mocking how other Christians are “picking and choosing” verses in The Bible, but how he follows the true way. Every Friday morning I hear a reformed deacon at Starbucks in a false sense of humbleness telling a new Christian how he hasn’t missed a daily devotion in two years. The leader continued to boast of how he hasn’t drank for five years, because of his disciplined reading of the Bible. Listening to these people has led me to the same question: where is God? I question where God is because his people worship a book.

    I read the replies of people I went to Bible college with try to justify the actions of their own and tell people who left “the church” that its their own fault. I get it. Protect the program players. If you want some advice here it is: To those people I went to Bible college with I say this…listen. Don’t speak.

    God listens to my rage in the quiet corner of a catholic cathedral. Where are you? I sit in the very back when no services are going on. I pray and confess my sins. I ask God questions like “why?” He sits there why I curse him. As I curse my own “successful” life he is silent. He says nothing as I bitch about those who have wronged me. The majority of time I get silence. What I’ve learned is to be silent. God is so awesome his silence consumes me. But I’m cool with it. It makes me realize I’m not Peter or John the Beloved. No I’m Herod mocking Christ in his silence as I question him. Those realizations humble me and I’m left in repentance. I leave in my faith knowing that the unknown is ok. If I fully understand than I’m not following God.

    The Church made me a dragon. I’m a really successful/good business man. Everything I learned about business I learned from the Church. Put a smile on. The show must go own. Look cool. Be attractive. Bitch be cool. Be well spoken. Be well read. Always become prepared. Know how to bull shit. Improvise. Size some one up in five minutes. Find out what they have to offer and utilize it. Manipulate. Stay professional. Learn how to be a professional asshole. Push some one’s buttons so either they morph in what you want or they leave. Fake it tell you make it. Don’t let your personal life impact the show. Smile. Say the tough stuff with a side smirk. Don’t let anyone in. Translate one world’s language to another. If you can talk to some one about masturbation you can talk to some one about their money. The things I hate about myself I learned from Church. I learned to manipulate people instead of love them. If people tell you church doesn’t tell you to wear mask. Ask any pastor that you have for full access to where they spend their money. You’ll find purchases to places people preach against. Or a shit ton of debt, which is pretending to have money you don’t have.

    Profeshah, you implored help for Dave, so here it is:

    I, too, find no solace in worship music and sermons anymore. I have no answers for Dave. Just encouragement. You are not alone. Christ stood silent as he was questioned before the cross. God can be silent and sometimes its in his finest hour.

    • Shah
      Posted at 13:00h, 02 August Reply

      Dear Jason,

      First thank you for taking the time to give me this wonderful reply. I can’t tell you how much you reply resonates with my soul.

      Please let me breakdown you comments and reply to it one paragraph at a time.

      You said,
      As a follower of Christ I ironically now find more solace in Nietzsche words than the words of pastors. Yes, the man who declared that God is dead and wrote The Antichrist brings more comfort than those who have dedicated their lives to speaking for God.

      “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”
      Friedrich Nietzsche
      This is, unfortunately, the new meta-narrative of Christianity. A place where grace and mercy no longer exist. The harshness that leaves sinners with the guilt of not fixing themselves. Contemporary Christianity is a place where God’s children bitterly forgive people. Fear reigns here. Fear begins to drive our actions because we are scared we will lose God’s favor. Judgment and arrogance follow.

      My reply,
      All truth is God’s truth even when it comes out of an atheist. I am not quite sure what your point is here. id we become monsters in trying to fight the monster of sin? What do you mean by, “God’s children bitterly forgive people”?

      Yes, it is so true. We have become a place where our Christianity is defined by a prayer (See my latest post) and a set of “dos” and “don’ts” devoid of God’s love and mercy. And by doing so, we have created a trail of broken, fearful and defeated people who are struggling to fix themselves away from the church lest they are judged even more.

      You said,
      I recently heard a Christian at a breakfast diner mocking how other Christians are “picking and choosing” verses in The Bible, but how he follows the true way. Every Friday morning I hear a reformed deacon at Starbucks in a false sense of humbleness telling a new Christian how he hasn’t missed a daily devotion in two years. The leader continued to boast of how he hasn’t drank for five years, because of his disciplined reading of the Bible. Listening to these people has led me to the same question: where is God? I question where God is because his people worship a book.

      My reply,
      When being a disciple of Christ is measured by a set of rules, then we become nothing but a group of arrogant and self-righteous people who constantly compare our so-called spiritual achievements with others to make ourselves feel better. I have never had a can of beer in my life—It’s nothing spiritual. I just don’t like the taste—but I will make a mean martini for my guests if hey ask for it.

      I read the replies of people I went to Bible college with try to justify the actions of their own and tell people who left “the church” that its their own fault. I get it. Protect the program players. If you want some advice here it is: To those people I went to Bible college with I say this…listen. Don’t speak.

      We evangelicals, especially Pentecostals know nothing about listening. Majority of us were never taught to listen. After all, we have 66 books that has all the answers. All I need to do is just throw specific verses at specific issues and all problems will go away.

      You said,
      God listens to my rage in the quiet corner of a catholic cathedral. Where are you? I sit in the very back when no services are going on. I pray and confess my sins. I ask God questions like “why?” He sits there why I curse him. As I curse my own “successful” life he is silent. He says nothing as I bitch about those who have wronged me. The majority of time I get silence. What I’ve learned is to be silent. God is so awesome his silence consumes me. But I’m cool with it. It makes me realize I’m not Peter or John the Beloved. No I’m Herod mocking Christ in his silence as I question him. Those realizations humble me and I’m left in repentance. I leave in my faith knowing that the unknown is ok. If I fully understand then I’m not following God.

      My reply,
      Amazing! He did the same with me through many Catholic writers and one 80-year old nun, my spiritual director. And that was when I was teaching you guys at the Bible college. I had the same questions—didn’t curse God though. I never lost my trust in him. I lost my trust in the church, her formulas, and my evangelical leaders, which drove me to seeking spiritual directions from a Catholic nun. I never forget when, almost 12 years ago, I told her, “Sister, I have no desire to read my Bible any more.” I wouldn’t dare to say that to my Pentecostal leaders because they would have judged me, rebuked me, and called me weak in faith, a backslider and whatever else we call those who don’t follow the damnable rules we have created. To my shock and awe, she asked a question that I will not forget till the day I die, “Son,” she asked. “Is it possible that after reading your Bible for over 30 years, the words are now written upon your heart and yu don’t need to read it any more?” MY Lord! what words of redemption and freedom. God will not accept or reject me according to the amount of time I spend reading my Bible. I am accepted because He’s chosen to accept me.

      I also learned to be silent. I’ve learned more through silence and solitude than all my shouting and activities. “Silence is the furnace of transformation.” as Henry Nowen says. If you have not ben silent, you have nothing to say.

      Yes, we can only know God to the extent that He allows us to know him. to assume that we have come to know all there is to know about God is to declare that our God is so so so small that He can be contained in 66 books. My God is bigger than any book, even the Bible. I love the Apophatic theology of the Eastern Orthodox that says something like we know God through what we don’t know about him, the unknown.

      You said,
      The Church made me a dragon. I’m a really successful/good business man. Everything I learned about business I learned from the Church. Put a smile on. The show must go own. Look cool. Be attractive. Bitch be cool. Be well spoken. Be well read. Always become prepared. Know how to bull shit. Improvise. Size someone up in five minutes. Find out what they have to offer and utilize it. Manipulate. Stay professional. Learn how to be a professional asshole. Push some one’s buttons so either they morph in what you want or they leave. Fake it tell you make it. Don’t let your personal life impact the show. Smile. Say the tough stuff with a side smirk. Don’t let anyone in. Translate one world’s language to another. If you can talk to some one about masturbation you can talk to some one about their money. The things I hate about myself I learned from Church. I learned to manipulate people instead of love them. If people tell you church doesn’t tell you to wear mask. Ask any pastor that you have for full access to where they spend their money. You’ll find purchases to places people preach against. Or a shit ton of debt, which is pretending to have money you don’t have.

      I replied,
      Why do you curse your success in business? Is it because it is not so-called ministry related? I can’t argue with what you say above. I worked within the organization we both belonged to. I saw all the above. I saw leaders who couldn’t decide if we were a church or a corporation, so depending what suited them the best from day to day, they would switch from one entity to another.

      You said,
      Profeshah, you implored help for Dave, so here it is:

      I, too, find no solace in worship music and sermons anymore. I have no answers for Dave. Just encouragement. You are not alone. Christ stood silent as he was questioned before the cross. God can be silent and sometimes its in his finest hour.

      I replied,
      I went through 11 years of not finding solace in any of the above. I am a “DONE” who doesn’t attend church on Sunday, though find much solace at my prayer meetings. I went through 11 years of asking God where He was and what it was he wanted from me but heard nothing. So, finally, I literally said, “Lord, I’m going my way. When you are ready to tell me what you want from me, you know where to find me.” Please understand that didn’t mean I lived in sin, left my wife or whatever else one might think. It just meant I wanted to be used by him. But I was honest enough and trusted God enough to know that I didn’t have to struggle anymore and when the time comes, He will contact me. That He did. About two years ago, He made it clear He wanted me to reach out to the youth of Iran. I’m just about to please 13 TV shows into Iran via satellite. These are some of the most out of the box Iranian Christian shows ever produced. However, what my past 16 years have taught me is to enjoy making the shows even if nobody ever watches them. Because my value is not in the success of the shows, but in God himself.

      Let me leave you and David with this. As bad as the church has gotten, She’s still the best club in town. She’s the hope for the future of this land and this world. I’m trusting that God will use people like you and Daves of this world to turn his church around. Use what you have gone through to change the lives of those who are in the midst of it now. The world needs transparent people like you. You have so much to offer.

      Thank you, my friend, for pouring your heart out. Hang in there.

  • Dustin
    Posted at 03:04h, 08 July Reply

    It’s with clarifying that my use of “Biblical” was meant to be contrasted against the often misused “calling” statements that are used to pull in Bible College students. Those are often only loosely associated with Scripture. A more concrete Biblical view of calling is simply to be financial responsibile and not take on college debt for a job that can not pay it back. This could be said about all colleges.

  • Dustin
    Posted at 05:48h, 07 July Reply

    I went to a BC. I ended with a reasonable amount of college debt. Got an offer in a church and turned it down (I continued to serve as a lay pastor for many years) and took a job in business. I turned it down because I (and I believe it to be quite biblical) 1) it wouldn’t meet my budget for the college loan payback 2) I wasn’t willing to drag my wife through years of “let’s just trust God” and 3) I wasn’t ok with the idea of strapping tithers with my debt. I knew I would want more in short time to pay off debts rapidly, at a rate that couldn’t be matched by a church. So my wife and I agreed that the more “biblical” thing to do was to first focused on college debt. I could still pastor. So I did and it didn’t require the churches finances. There’s an idea!!! It was my choice to take on the debt, so I needed to be the responsible one to get out of that debt.

    Titus 1.7: “Do not be greedy for gain.” While I don’t believe any believer should be greedy, the notion of college debt for an aspiring pastor has built in greed, because nobody wants the burden of debt. Nobody. And the easiest way out is to acquire more money. Again, my responsibility. Perhaps I could have worked harder in the summers to pay off the school loans I’d acquired. I didn’t so I’ll own that.

    My take is this. It’s a highly specialized/narrow degree that in short order does not offer a job that will allow for quick repayment of loans. The colleges are in a bind because they obviously need to recruit and keeps the enrollment trend up. If it were not so opposed to their enrollment interests, they would offer stronger counseling and a mock up or a realistic budget that one might anticipate 4 years later. Would simply be great if everyone enrolled was manditorily on a debt free program.

    At the end of the day, I took a posture of responsibility for my own scenario. I don’t by any means blame the school. I have great respect for the school. Many of my good friends are now successful pastors, so I’m super grateful for that. But I think they could do a better job in onboarding students into the reality of their career trajectory. Selling them on loose notions of Gods “call” and “plans” for them is risky. Gods “plan” first and foremost would be that we steward our money with wisdom.

    Regarding God? I trust His sovereignty and believe that being in business/offering up my time in ministry is right. Perhaps it was part of His plan all along.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Dustin

  • lalydia
    Posted at 15:27h, 06 July Reply

    Dear David,
    Congratulations on your academic success! It makes me happy that you are on the path to a bright future, although a bit knocked around by life. And I'm sorry you're suffering now.
    So…you followed the siren call of ministry-specifically missions. So did I! Well, we could catch up some other time on why I'm not a missionary now.
    There is room for a lot of regret in your story. Maybe its even exacerbated by the why's. I understand that.
    You're facing your pain right in its ugly face. Guess what? This can be good. A lot of people don't, although maybe you feel like you don't even have the choice.
    I can tell you that your pain and your experience can lead you to a lot of wisdom! Down the path you will realize that you are better for all you've learned, and that others haven't even had the opportunity to have such a story to learn from.
    You are in a good place because you are seeking answers. The most important step to healing is the first one! The step that asks the question, the step that reaches out.
    If you're thinking of getting counseling, get counseling! I think you'd feel a great relief taking the step of signing up for therapy, and then knowing you can see a therapist regularly.
    As far as advise on getting a counselor/therapist…I don't think there's a great danger in seeing the wrong person. If you start seeing a therapist, and it turns out you don't like them, then you can change therapists. Each therapist will be different depending on their personality and school of thought.
    The great thing about seeing a therapist is that instead of carrying around your stories and your thoughts in your head, you can say them out loud to someone-someone who will listen, reflect, and give you a new perspective on what's happened in your life. Its impossible to move on from our histories when we never got to fully and freely speak to it, and express our feelings.
    If you're wondering how to get a therapist, usually schools can provide therapy to their students. At least they should be able to give you a list of sliding scale therapists in your area. Or you could call or email any therapist in the area and they should be able to give you a list of sliding scale therapists too. And sometimes churches provide low cost therapy.
    Remember, many great people have wandered in life, and have failed many times! It is not over for you.
    One step at a time. It is what it is. No judgement.
    It may be hard to believe, but things will get better for you!
    Please feel free to contact me if you want to talk more. I'm a friend of Shah's on Facebook- Lydia England.
    <3

  • Caroline
    Posted at 11:32h, 05 July Reply

    Dave, I feel your pain, deeply. I too did what I felt called by God to do, and my life did not turn out the way I was told it would if I did all of the right things: prayer, Bible study, tithing, chuch attendance, etc. I felt called to be a short-term missionary. I quit my job, sold most of my possessions — car, furniture, kitchen appliances — and headed overseas. While I was equipped to teach the Bible, I had a master's degree in theology, I found myself coming home only five months later, with liver damage and was severly ill. I was so dissappointed; I was heart broken.

    Then I thought I was making a wise decision by taking a job at the headquarters of the church denomination that I was a part of and had supported my missionary work. While working there six years I witnessed abuses of power, misappropriation of money, sexism, and lieing. This too was a pentacostal church, and their practices didn't line up with their theology. No only did I leave that job, but I left that church completely, and have never looked back. I was so dissillusioned with God, church, life.

    But here I am 10 years later, and I made it through all of that with my faith in tact. Through the help of friends like Shah, with the help of a grief counselor, with the help of God, I can look back and see the tremendous life lessons learned. It was hard to confront the reality that life wouldn't turn out the way I wanted it to, even if I did supposedly to everything right. But talking with believers and non believers, I saw that life is life, it never turns out the way we think it will.

    While I went through many unpleasant experiences while serving in the church, and working for the church denomination, I have learned a lot and can see many blessings that I was not able to see when I was going through all of the pain. Yes, I will have to suffer the liver damage for the rest of my life. But I have been able to let go of the bitterness I once felt toward the people who were the teachers of the bad theology, the people who unwittingly helped spread this false teaching of "doing everything right" and God will bless you, and learned a lot about God.

    It is hard to go through this, Dave, but you will make it through. For a while all I could do was take one day at a time. I tried to focus on what I needed to do that day, and not harbor on all of my pain. I did find a good councelor, and I had some great friends to walk through this wth. But ultimately it is our path to walk with God.

    Like others in this stream of comments, I found tremendous relief in books from Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning, Richard Foster, St. Theresa of Avila, Dietrich Bonehoffer, and The Cloud of Unknowing.

    You never know how God can use things in our life. But he will and does.

    Hang in there Dave. God is bigger than all of us. He can bless you with a beautiful wife, when the time is right. He blessed me with a man who is right for me, but not what I would have expected.

    I feel your pain, really I do.

    Caroline

  • Esther J Chun
    Posted at 10:35h, 05 July Reply

    Dear Dave,

    It must be tough being in your situation. I totally feel you. Life isn’t easy nor will it ever be. Whether we work as a janitor or a successful business owner, there will always be challenges and getting there has never been easy for any of us. Statistics show that, on average, 70% of college graduates don’t end up in the career path or field they studied to pursue. Shocking, I know! Lol! I never thought I would want to serve in church as a youth pastor (for the short couple years that I did serve) but I knew that I wanted to go to Bible College to learn about my faith and other faiths out there so I can learn not to be biased and judgmental as a lot of old-school leaders have got us to thinking. It took me 6 years to graduate college, with 2 paid jobs and a busy position at church. I can’t complain because I earned my graduate diploma and although I am not on the church staff anymore…(I’m a realtor now…I know, right? Who knew?) I appreciate the experiences and hardships I endured to get where I am today. I wouldn’t have met the lifelong friends I have now and have the beautiful child with a wonderful man. Every struggle that we fight through and come out stronger from is just an indication that we are not weak or sorry beings. We were created strong, flexible, with great potential and most of all…by a God who knows us & loves us through all our imperfections and that, my friend, is what makes us perfect. We are imperfectly perfect and loved by the creator of the Universe. All we need to do, in this life, is to Love God back & love others. So with that, I leave you with some encouragement…if you just do those two things…you have lived and accomplished a great purpose that you were created to do & be. It doesn’t matter where you work or what you do (of course, not illegally) as long as you live your life with great purpose through love and compassion. I have been through many different jobs and careers, sometimes simultaneously, and even now…real estate might not be my permanent career because I see a greater need out there for many different things to help humanity…you don’t need a college degree to determine your value to society, I agree. But I wouldn’t change the fact that I graduated from a Bible College (Life Pacific College, to be precise). I was there for 4 yrs and that season of my life has taught me things that will be with me for the rest of my life. I hope you’re well and that your mind has been put at ease. I will keep you in my prayers. Seek God first in everything and remember the two most important things we were created to be and do…God bless!

  • Kathleen Martin
    Posted at 09:11h, 05 July Reply

    David, also, I read a very helpful book called “Loved Back to Life,” by Shelia Walsh. Sheila was a talk show host for the 700 Club for years until she had a nervous breakdown and ended up in a psychiatic ward. Bad theology taught her if she only did this and that right and had enough faith God would heal her from the emotional turmoil inside. She was told she shouldn’t receive help, all she.needed was faith. Well, she knew they were wrong and she needed outside help. Anyway. I think you would find some wisdom.in reading her story. God did love her back to life, there is hope! And Shah, can you please correct my typos in my above comment. 🙂

  • Kathleen Martin
    Posted at 08:26h, 05 July Reply

    How does he move on ? How does he get past the regret and anger? Those are hard questions! Been there, done that! Not with Bible college but other things. Disillusionment is a difficult state to get over, but getting past it IS possible! Been through that many times. When it comes to anger towards God, what I have done that has helped is this, be very open and honest with God, He already knows how you feel. Know that God loves you immensely and wants to help you in that area. He is not going to get angry amd zap you with punishment from the sky! Sometimes ive prayed for a couple of years with this. Don’t force it, but when those feelings come up acknowledge them before God. Tell Him that you cannot help.feeling this way. Tell Him that He needs to change this in you. He needs to give you a clearer vision of reality. I know He.will work in you when you are honest. Don’t expect instant results, your feelings WILL change. He will change your perspective! Then there is the anger towards people for the guilt laid upon you and the disillusionment that comes from bad theology. What do you do with that? Remember, we are frail human beings who see through the glass dimly. They thought they were teaching you Who God was, but they weren’t. They are as disillusioned as what they taught. They were trying hard to ease God but they did it wrong. When you pray for yourself, pray for them as well, especially if they are still caught up in it. As far as a therapist is concerned, sometimes it can be hard to find a good one. You don’t need one who is deeply rooted in bad theology, you’ll just beat yourself up and be fed the same old garbage. Pray for a friend or friends who can help, seek them out! Find them, pray as you look. God will answer. Keep open communication with God through this whole process. Pray for a good wife. Even some of these Christian dating sites has helped friends of mine. There is nothing wrong with those. I know the waiting g is hard, been there, done that. I thought I’d never find someone e to marry, in fact, I was afraid that God was calling me to singleness. Ha, if you don’t have the gift of singleness, God isn’t calliing you to that!!! Don’t worry about that. And, you don’t just want anyone, you want that special woman who will complement you and who will sharpen you like iron sharpening iron, and vice versa. Anger, disillusionment, and bitterness will eventually fade, don’t try and force it. It will come slowly and subtly as you walk forward with life. Don’t look for an instant moment and it’s gone, once again, bad theology! One day, you will be able to look back and see the things that God has taught you over he years, but not yet. You are still in the midst of it. But, continualky pray that God will keep you from bitterness. This is important . People often stay cynical because if negative experiences. Ask God to show you people like that and whisper a quick prayer whenewtimg the, say, God, please do let me stay or become like that.” My husband and I often pray that as we get older. Life has a lot of struggles and hardships amd disappointments. We want to end well down here, we don’t want hardships taint us. It’s a constant seeking God through prayer to not let that happen. Find a good body of believers to fellowship with! That can make a a huge difference. If they are a people that speak the same old bad teachings, RUN! Find another group until.you find your soul receiving healing!!!! David, I am going to remember you and continually pray for you! I promise, I don’t forget. I would t pray in generalities but in specifics. Never underestimate prayer. Ask others to pray for you as well. People who are serious about prayer. It has been life changing for me.

  • Local Heretic
    Posted at 07:52h, 05 July Reply

    Good day Shah,

    I am not surprised by Dave's experience. It is a tragedy what we the church have done to create more barriers for a generation. And it is important that you catch my 'we the church'. Being a pastor, i have come to realize my responsibility in the culture the church creates, good, bad or whatever else. In many ways i see what Dave is saying. And i would suggest the book by Henri Nouwen, In The Name of Jesus. I read this book about twice a year (it is a pretty short read). It has been a great support to me as a younger pastor. It is a great book i believe for Millennials because Nouwen really gets at the core of some of the issues for all Christians and people who lead. See this link (https://amzn.com/0824512596)

    Finally, i would say to Dave,

    Dave, pray to God and tell him how upset you are. Tell him how you were shortchanged. Read Psalm 130 and perhaps use that as your guide to tell God how you feel. I encourage honesty not fake respect when speaking and praying to God.

    For anyone who says this is a no, no", we must respect God. To them i say (kindly), allow God to decide where the line of respect begins and ends.

    Blessings on you Dave

  • Peter
    Posted at 23:26h, 04 July Reply

    I also think more people should be made aware of these two articles as well as the fundamental cause of such misunderstandings about God, His will and direction and His ways. So it would be good to see an article that addresses the root causes of such misguided lives of faith. You already refered to it by mentioning the God, computer, algorithm metaphor, but it probably needs further development. You should write a PhD thesis on this!!!

  • Peter
    Posted at 23:24h, 04 July Reply

    Very painful situation. I felt his pain (a little bit) and feel sorry that he was misguided. As of now I have no answers for him other that the “cliches”, so I won’t go into that. But I did pray for him and will continue to do so. If the Lord reveals something, I’ll share.
    In one of my struggles lately with my own shortcomings, failures, brokenness, not having “accomplished anything for the Lord”, etc., etc., etc., I felt the Lord whispering to me: God is greater than all of that (the list I just mentioned). A great peace has come upon me and I have a rest in me which tells me He will lead me on to where He has planned for me because He is greater than …..(fill the blanks). Another thing that helps me a lot in these type of circumstances are what I call J&J (Joseph and Job). Is God greater than???

  • Terry Garber
    Posted at 20:29h, 04 July Reply

    Shah

    On Jul 4, 2016, at 12:57 PM, Terry Garber <TerryKay2Teacher@aol.com> wrote:

    Shah,

    I have been at a point a couple of times in my life where I "walked away" from God to do my "own thing." I was tired of "trusting God" to do what I wanted Him to do (not necessarily what HE wanted to do), and I was done. That was in my mid 20s and early 30s, respectively. This is what I have learned:

    My relationship with God is internal. There is no little checklist that gets me "brownie points" with God. If I don't spend concerted time in His Word and in prayer, I won't hear His voice, I won't recognize His leading. Do I always get it "right"? No, but it considerably more effective that it used to be. I needed to learn to take God out of the tiny, little box I had Him in, to realize that He will work in HIS way, in HIS timing, and that I can't gripe and complain about things not going my way. There are great difficulties in life that may come (I was married to an abusive man for 28 years, I have been widowed twice, and I have gone through cancer), but God uses everything to shape me and mold me into the image of Christ. I can either let the difficulties harden my heart, or soften it; it is my choice.

    After reading the Psalms multiple times, I realized that David was totally honest with God about what he was feeling and about how situations looked to him. But no matter what he was going through at the time, he always ended up in praise and in telling God he would trust Him, in whatever the circumstances. That's where I am. I have no difficulty sharing my point of view with God, but I have to lay that down at the foot of the cross and choose–CHOOSE–to praise Him and give Him glory. God does not give me balloons with my pity-party, nor do I get cheese with my "whine" when I go to Him. But I do get His peace, and His comfort, and a renewed sense of Who He is in my life.

    Let go of the anguish and bitterness, David. Thank God for His hand on your life. Praise Him for what you DO have, and stop complaining about how hard you have it. As my friend Margaret T. Jensen said once, "Prayer invites the presence of God, but praise invites the power of God."

    Blessings,

    Terry

  • Eric
    Posted at 20:24h, 04 July Reply

    This is very understandable.

  • Gary
    Posted at 18:12h, 04 July Reply

    Phew. This grieves me, Shahrokh. Looking at it theologically, I'd say he's been getting wrong teaching on the place of work and spiritual gifts, to begin with. And I suspect he may have heard or assumed a big dose of sacred-secular dichotomizing.

    But what he needs now is first-aid.I was going to say "pastoral counseling", but no. Mentoring/discipling by an older, wiser, godlier man may be in order. There's no formula, whether in form of a book or a sermon. He needs hope by connecting with someone he respects and trusts and feels cares about HIM. Someone who will inject hope together with some tough words, like "cut the crap".

    Then, in midst of this, books etc could be assigned, as seems appropriate. Professional counsellor? Probably not.

  • Lou
    Posted at 16:57h, 04 July Reply

    This is a very heart breaking story. It is very upsetting to hear the name of God is woven into these "programs and algorithms" and the devastating impact on the soul and spirit of people. Even if after bible college, everything had gone exactly as this young man was lead to believe it would (or should), It would still leave a wrong mindset and a very wrong impression of our relationship with God and the question of His sovereignty.

    It is difficult to know what to say to a young man in this situation without a one-on-one relationship with him or practical knowledge that may help. I doubt there is a 'one size fits all' but you seem to have his trust and respect so you may be in the better place to have ongoing one-on-one sessions with Dave; I think he'll need something like that – perhaps more than bullet point answers.

    Having said that, for what it is worth, I would say to Dave:

    How do I move on? This is a very heart breaking story. It is very upsetting to hear the name of God is woven into these "programs and algorithms" and the devastating impact on the soul and spirit of people. Even if after bible college, everything had gone exactly as this young man was lead to believe it would (or should), It would still leave a wrong mindset and a very wrong impression of our relationship with God and the question of His sovereignty.

    It is difficult to know what to say to a young man in this situation without a one-on-one relationship with him or specific insight. I Doubt there is a 'one size fits all' but you seem to have his trust and respect so you may be in the better place to have ongoing one-on-one sessions with Dave; I think he'll need something like that – perhaps more than bullet point answers.

    Having said that, for what it is worth, I would say to Dave:

    HOW DO I MOVE ON and HOW DO I GET INTO A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD? Reset, reboot, start from the very begining. You seem to have (perhaps understandably) taken on some very wrong perspectives and those are skewing your impression of who and what God is, what is possible etc. If true, then I think that needs to be addressed.

    Reading between the lines, there seems to be a lot of 'doing' going on in your life (forgive me if I've got that wrong). If true, I would say ease up on the gas pedal, relax. Furthermore, (forgive me if this sounds harsh), we have different paths to walk and nothing that I say or you do will completely erase the potential for some unpleasantlearning experiences. Perhaps a good homegroup where things of this nature can really be broken down, discussed and prayed about may help.

    HOW DO I GET PAST THE REGRET AND ANGER? Again perspectives matter a lot. Without minimizing the struggle that you are going through now, a right perspective of God and His ways can ease the regret and anger. By the way, also having the right perspective about yourself and the situations you may find yourself in is critical to soulical and spiritual health (and NO!, I am not saying go and have a party when you are suffering frustration – just the right perspective).

    HOW DO I DEAL WITH BEING SEXUALLY FRUSTRATED……? It is possible for a woman in her 20s and 30s to meet and marry a man who doesn't have a job or when so called prospects look slim. My own story bears witness to that fact – just as an encouragement. Is there some work that needs to be done on how you see yourself? Is your self esteemworth locked up in some of the things that haven't gone to plan or in your career?

    By the way, who or what has set the "not being able to do anything for at least three more years" boundary? Iswas there some choice on your part? What exactly do you mean by "anything" in that question? In any case, sexual frustration can be tough but beware that having sex and being sexually fulfilled is not the same (in marriage or out of it). I suppose the point is that expectations need to be managed. Sexual fulfillment is an ok thing to want but sometimes we look in the wrong place for soulical prosperity. Also beware, how ever you deal with this subject, it is the one thing that we apparently cannot or may not have to hand that we tell ourselves is the one thing absolutely necessary for life to be complete. Don't let your mind play games on you.

    I hope I haven't written anything that exacerbates your situation. Ultimately,I hope you do find rest. How ironic that the very relationship with God that can give you rest and peace seems to have become such a source of unrest. The good thing is, I sense that you know something is wrong with that picture. I sincerely hope and pray that in this journey of yours, you find GOD and not more "principles and algorithims".

  • John L. Amstutz
    Posted at 15:05h, 04 July Reply

    Shah,

    Thanks for inviting our input.

    Is Dave somewhat isolated? Is he a part of a loving community of faith that could walk with him through this difficult time in his life? It sounds like he doesn't need more sermons and Bible studies. He needs relationships. Right now, perhaps more than answers, he needs friends, friends like you, who have been through the fires, fires that have could have consumed them, but instead refined them. Share your pilgrimage with him.

    John & Dorene

    • shah2011
      Posted at 15:35h, 27 July Reply

      Dr.. Amstutz,

      Please forgive me for my very late reply. My website was going through some renovation and I had to wait for that to be completed before posting anything. and thank you for taking the time to make a comment on this post .

      I believe Dave is in good hands and a part of a loving community. I’m sure when the time comes he will respond to each one of personally. That’s exactly it. He certainly needs more goodly and transparent relationship. I am truly honored that a total stranger has found me trustworthy enough to be so transparent with me. I also think some of my old students have given him very good advice. Thank yo again for your sound and practical counsel.

  • Deb Cessna
    Posted at 13:36h, 04 July Reply

    Dave,

    I was one of Shah’s students way back in 2006-2007 at the little bible college he used to teach at. During my time there I went threw a few things that left me broken and hurting. I experienced the pressure of having to be a certain way in the sense of reading your bible 1000hrs a day etc in order to add up. I had even made a mistake and brokenly repented but was publicly shamed and completely embarrassed as I was made to repent in front of the entire student body. I say all of that to make this point: somewhere along the way man has made a relationship with Christ to be something more than what God had intended it to be. The human way is to always try to add up, have x,y, z in order before anything else can happen. Like Shah says it’s become an algorithm when we desire something but God may not have answered. (We probably aren’t praying/reading the bible long enough etc). All of that is the “works” minded mentality that says we have to earn our way to God. In order to do ministry we have to have a degree…I couldn’t disagree more. Where God calls he equips. The new covenant says it’s about relationship with Christ. The old covenant speaks of sacrificing in order to forgive sins etc and too often we as the church live as though we’ve forgotten that Christ was the sacrifice for us. I’m saying this to say that I, like you, have had frustration, hurt and anger about bible college, debt and where do I go from here type of feelings. Your frustration and anger is ok. But I feel that the key in moving on is to be able to separate man’s actions and how we’ve turned serving God into a business, and separate it from how and what God desires of us. I walked away from school with a biblical degree that didn’t really do much for me in terms of a career and had to go back to school and am now a registered nurse. Through it all I learned that where God wants me, he will place me. He has placed dreams inside of me that can only be accomplished and fulfilled through him living and moving in me. No amount of effort I could ever do or man could ever do will force these things to take place. But when they do, they are covered in his timing, presence and anointing and no man will ever be able to take that from you. God is also big enough to handle your frustration. I had to begin with a simple prayer that said “God I know I’m not where I should be with you, help me to get there.” Literally that was all I prayed for a while. And as I prayed that God began to open my heart up to be able to grieve what I had been through. I don’t believe you will ever be able to let go of something until you are able to come face to face with the hurt and pain. I’m so sorry you are and have been through what you have but my encouragement is to find who God says he is and try to separate the ways and tendencies of man, from the God who simply desires to love on you and be in relationship with you. It is simple, it’s man that makes it difficult.

    Praying for you!

    Deb

    • shah2011
      Posted at 12:08h, 27 July Reply

      Deb,

      Please forgive me for my very late reply. My website was going through some renovation and I had to wait for that to be completed before posting anything.

      I am sure your words will comfort Dave because they come out of the life of a person who can certainly empathize with him.

      I am so sorry for all you went through, but I am so proud of you for putting up with all that crap and still finished your schooling. I hope people realize that we can take our pains and make something good out of them. You’re now an RN. That’s awesome. I can’t tell you how happy I am for you. You must be dealing with a lot of hurting people. I am sure with the mercy and grace you’ve received from God, you’re able to help many of your patience.

  • Greg Everson
    Posted at 13:25h, 04 July Reply

    I would suggest the following book, to offer some help. It has helped me.
    A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament (Quiet Times for the Heart) by Michael Card, published by NavPress – 1994. You can get it on Amazon.

    I would tell Dave to be brutally honest with God about what he is feeling and thinking. God can handle it. Too often today when people experience frustration or doubts because their experiences don't fit the image projected by the "church program" they turn to others that doubt and they fall away from the faith. Don't be afraid to wrestle with God over these feelings and thoughts–God will meet you where you are at. Do not expect God to wave a magic wand and solve all your problems but as you wrestle with God you will discover His presence with you in the circumstance. (Card describes this in his book better than I am doing it now.)

    I understand some of the things Dave is facing. I spent 25 years as a youth pastor faithful to the local church and the denomination. Then the senior pastor, who was dealing with some issues of his own, turned on me and what I had been committed to for 25 years was gone. I was no longer the youth pastor, the senior pastor was eventually proved wrong and dismissed from the denomination, but the denomination didn't want much to do with me either because of things the senior pastor had said about me. (I should add the local church has come to embrace my wife and I with open arms.) As this was all happening, I went back to school to get my teaching license. I was in classes with most of my fellow students considerably younger than myself. Then I spent about 5 years trying to get a full time teaching position it was one heartbreak after another. A position would come open and I would be turned down basically because they wanted a teacher that could also coach a sport. When I seemed to be at the end of my rope God provided a position where I have been for the last 5 years. I know I am where I belong and I also realize all my experiences have prepared me to be a better teacher. I would not have chosen the path I had to take–it definitely did not fit the "church program" model projected by many churches but it did fit what God had in mind for me. Don't conform yourself to an image projected by the church. Rather, embrace scripture and do not be afraid to wrestle with God as you try to live out your faith and apply the scriptures to your life. I would also encourage Dave to not bemoan what he thinks he has lost. Rather, look to what God would have you to do where you are at right now.

    I hope this makes sense and offers at least a little help and hope. I also want to add that I highly recommend Michael Card's book mentioned above.

    God Bless!

    • shah2011
      Posted at 10:48h, 27 July Reply

      Greg,
      Please forgive me for my very late reply. My website was going through some renovation and I had to wait for that to be completed before posting anything.

      You and I go way back and I’m sorry for all that you’ve experienced, but I’m so happy that yu believe, today, you are were the Creator wants you to be. Thank you for your sound advice to Dave. I’m sure he’s comforted by them. I hope that one day he’ll respond to all his new friends personally.

      I think you hit the nail on the head by saying over and over again, “Don’t conform yourself to an image projected by the church.” But the reality is that, as a young person, it’s very difficult to go against the norm. Not all of us can handle that.You don’t want to be the black sheep. The mistake lies with our leaders whom instead of introducing our young people to God, introduce them to a set of formulas that if followed will give them a glorious ending. And when the victorious results don’t take place, rather than admitting to their false teachings, they blame the students for not having enough faith, not reading their Bibles often enough, not praying hard, not being at church and having sin in their lives.

      Thank you again for taking the time to give some comfort to my friend, Dave.

  • Pastor Don Humble
    Posted at 12:31h, 04 July Reply

    I came to the USA with the same aspirations as David. I entered Bible College and a year later my wife was paralyzed with a spinal infection. Unlike David, I was advised to leave the college and pursue my job as an elevator mechanic. My wife was healed of the infection and I was asked to serve in a local church as a Sunday School teacher superintendent then administrator of the Christian Education Dept.. Consequently I began an evangelistic outreach to the drug culture in Northern California, where miracles of healings and salvations were monthly. Thirty years later, I still had no credentials and then a precious pastor convinced me to apply for credentials with an organization. Two years later I was credentialed as a pastor/supervisor of an Armenian Iranian church…As always I relied on the Holy Spirit in His time to fulfill His will in my life. Blessings Pastor Don

    • shah2011
      Posted at 10:36h, 27 July Reply

      Don,
      Please forgive me for my very late reply. My website was going through some renovation and I had to wait for that to be completed before posting anything.

      Thank you so much for your practical advice to Dave. Just like you, I was a civil engineer for 10 years while pastoring before becoming a full-time pastor. And it took another 3-4 years before I was offered a full scholarship to attend a seminary. I believe being by-vocational will be the future of every pastor and it is much more important to get a degree in a field that would help you land a job than getting a BC degree that extremely limits your ability in landing a decent job.

      By the way, I still remember those days when you and I worked together to help the Armenian pastor you oversaw. I never forget the say you showed up to a meeting with a bag full of medication and as you put it on the table you said, “This is what you get for overseeing… ;-)” I’m praying for you to overcome the challenges you’re facing at the moment.

  • Amanda
    Posted at 12:02h, 04 July Reply

    I’ve been there 100%. To be honest, On top of it all I still feel like the “black sheep” of my graduating class. Last year, I went back for a reunion. It was nice to see some old friends, but what caught me off guard was when I went to introduce my husband to my previous mentor,, she was also my coach for the process of obtaining my liscense as well. She didn’t know who I was. When I kinda giggled and said that, she changed her look and then called me by a totally different name all together. It was bizzare, but I went with it.

    I also have a large amount of debt that has been on defferment until just recently as I have only been able to get part-time employment. I for many years regretted going that school and racking up debt for a degree I’d never use. But, not until recently have I felt and been able to see the bigger picture with in regard to my degree.

    First what I learned from Shah, especially in these days with so many people afraid, upset all emotions about IS- what I learned from him I still use in my personal and daily life. I talk about Shah to my friends who aren’t believers and my friends who are. His guidance and friendship is priceless., and I am forever grateful for him and a few other key people that are still in my life.

    These friendships are priceless., and I’d do it again because they have made my life better.

    You will see the full picture eventually, but you have to forgive yourself for making mistakes, and try to lay down that bitterness by just trying to come up with one thing you are thankful for in regards to your degree.

    One day you will see the full picture, but until then focus on making each day count and being thankful where God has lead you right now- at this moment.

    • shah2011
      Posted at 10:20h, 27 July Reply

      Amanda,
      Please forgive me for my very late reply. My website was going through some renovation and I had to wait for that to be completed before posting anything.

      Thank you so much for your encouraging words to Dave. I know he’s read them and been comforted by them. You’ve always been one of my favorite students. Your love for life and your smile/giggles is/are infectious. Also, thank you for your kind words about me. I would have gone back to teach at that college just to meet the “me” you talk about 😉

      I am sorry for all you’ve gone through, but honestly, that’s life. I think where our mentors went wrong was not preparing us for the hardships of life by giving us the typical formulas that were supposed to magically made every difficulty go away, so we can come out on the side absolutely victorious. I wish I had done a better job of protecting my students when I was your professor, but we can only do so much. I pray with your new job, you’ll be able to pay off your debt soon and get this monkey off your back.

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