Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals
Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor
| MH Website Overview | Ministry Resources
| MH Archives | MH Dissertations
A Pastoral Letter Of
A Recovering ACDF
Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div, M.S.A.
- Immediately after reading Ministry Health
Article 286 "Put Off",
an ACDF pastor responded via email. After sharing how the article had touched his heart
and made sense of his pain, I wrote the following letter to him. The name, of course, has
been removed to preserve his identity. The letter is commended to God's people through Ministry Health for their
consideration to help give insight and direction to support ACDF's in long road to
Thomas F. Fischer
+ + + + +
- Dear Friend,
- The fact that you were able to read, digest, reflect and share your
thoughts indicates that you have a great deal of strength and capacity to face--and, by
God's help, overcome--fear.
- I recognize that it is scary, difficult, unsettling, etc. to give up
"don't talk, trust, feel" mechanisms and replace them with simply putting
ourselves in the hands of a loving God that we can trust, talk with, and feel His love.
But it's such a challenge...and a hard thing to do...even for non-ACDF's.
- Why is does your spouse still stay loyal and supportive of you? Why
doesn't she just put you off? We should ask your spouse in a meeting together soon. But I
can give you my thoughts. Your spouse can love, talk, trust and feel. Most important, your
spouse can freely show interest in people, especially you. It is nothings less than a
response of faith.
- Spouses like yours have resources to uplift, support and genuinely
encourage others to be the best they can be. Above all, they know the most valuable
treasures of life are relationships. That's why spouses like yours live in a
"relational" world--enjoying, building, savoring, repairing and expanding
relationships. Yes, it can be scary even for such strong spouses as yours. They, too, get
more than their "fair share" of being "put off," "snubbed,"
- Life is more than a "what you see is what you get" proposition.
No matter how many people reject, hurt, etc. you, there are always others. The key is not
to take it too personally and, after honest evaluation, to move forward with greater
maturity, growth and capacities to love, trust, talk and feel.
- Sound easy? Frankly it's not. But, in the final analysis, it's less
painful than the alternative. Most importantly, in spite of the pain which inevitably
comes, it's where the joy is. Because the greatest joy is where the pain is, it is
necessary to gain a clear understanding the central role of paradox.
- Paradox not only something necessary to understand in your recovering. It
is absolutely fundamental to a proper understanding of faith. Jesus' recognition of the
undeniable essential character of paradox to faith and the human experience that He began
His ministry with a message on...paradox.
- "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of
God. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for
they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,
for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy... Rejoice
and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven." Matthew
5:3-7, 12a (NIV)
- "Paradox" tells us that in pain we find joy, in loss we have the greatest
gains, in failure we find success, in our hopelessness we find hope...in God. The most
healthy expression and most vivid realization of this is Job's statement,
gives, the Lord takes away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord."
- ACDF's would have never taken the risk to amass the fortune he had. But,
in every instance of testing in Scripture, God always forces his servants to confront the
issues of talking, feeling, and trusting. Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Elisha (remember his BBQ
in I Kings 19:21?), Jesus, Matthew, Andrew, James, John, Peter, Paul, Mary, et al.
- He confronted all of them by means of calling them to the impossible,
unimaginable...and the painful. Part of this pain was the pain of personal growth and
transformation necessary to develop greater capacities for "great" faith.
- That God and His Word are still among us today is proof positive that God
is still doing this among us today. And, once one forsakes one's "net" and
follows...the testing never, ever stops. God is a God of relationship. That means that the
life of faith is a life of continual experiencing God's testing, failing, forgiving, and
growing (again) in the appreciation of the fullness of God's Grace.
- It's the experience of the undeserved, the un-requested, the spontaneous,
the surprising...and the awesome wonder of God. It is this experience which is the
foundation and fountain of Christian ministry.
- My friend in Christ, God is using your personal experiences to prepare
you for greater ministry. He has done that with me...and still is. (Why should I be an
exception?). Frankly, it is those areas in which God gives pain where the growth is.
- The most frequent ACDF question I get from those inquiring about recovery
from the pain and ACDF experience is this: How do I know what issues I have to deal with?
What are these issues?
- My answer (brace yourself) is this: It's where the pain is. When
you recognize it, let yourself feel it. Initially this may need to be by
yourself or with some you trust. Then to reflect, share and
it with a caring professional and others who are on various stages of recovery.
- As you can see, the recovery process itself IS the healing. It's
being able to participate and engage in intimate processes of talking, trusting and
feeling that marks the recovery and aspiration toward healthier patterns of intimate
relationships with others...and God.
- As you may or may not know, the articles on Ministry
Health from which I receive the greatest responses are
those dealing with ACDF dynamics. Perhaps now you know why. You are not alone, my
- The pain you feel permeates our entire society. It is why we are such an
anxious, depressive country afraid of relationship but driven by the "trappings"
of advancement, wealth, materialism and control. When the effects of ACDF finds itself in
the church it destroys congregations, pastors and ministries.
- But, in spite of all the pain, havoc and destruction, the hearts of the
people of the industrialized world and all Western civilization is still pained and
restless...until they find rest in God. That is what the ministry is all about.
Ministering to the pain with the grace which comes from the benefits of Him who
experienced greatest pain ever experienced--for you, me and all the world.
- In our contemporary, Western world there is an intense need to recover
the "spiritual" side of ministry. When Christianity and the church is reduced to
a CEO-driven institution, something very, very vital and life-giving is lost, namely, its
essence of being a living, breathing, growing Body of Christ.
- But much more--so much more--has also been lost. What has been lost is
what causes unrelenting existential inner pain such as yours. In spite of the defense
mechanisms, achievements, trappings, etc., the pain is there until one relinquishes the
power to control one's own pain via isolation, hiding, facades, detachment, etc. Hence the
first of the twelve steps is to give God the control.
- I often wonder what would happen if I had a sermon series entitled,
"Put Off!"? Just a thought! But can you begin to imagine just how this one
issue takes in the key elements of the Gospel: confession, absolution, Law and Gospel,
God's purpose and calling, the role of suffering, and faith itself.
- I suppose all this should be obvious. When we're experiencing ACDF and
ACOA dynamics what we're really dealing with is one of the most common
consequences of original sin in our culture. It's one of the most common ways fear and
shame manifest themselves and proliferate in our culture, churches, workplaces, and
- My friend, as God ministers to you through this healing
process I pray that He will be shaping and preparing you (as I'm sure He is) to be an even
greater healing agent to all God's people. Indeed, such healing is one of the key marks of
the Scriptural prophetic tradition, isn't it?
- "Comfort, comfort My people...tell them their
warfare is over...and God has paid double for all their sins." Isaiah 40:1 (KJV)
- Ah, grace. How sweet it is!
- You are in my prayers, my friend. Hold fast to this
course of trust and healing. It is nothing less than the call of God working working in
you. I know it's scary. But do everything you can to overcome the fear, OK? I ever I
threaten you with fear, etc., please let me know. It is not my intention nor will it ever
be. It would grieve me to do something to cause you fear and not understand how I had
incited that fear.
- If I have incited fear or anxiety, please forgive me.
Like your spouse, I'll be there for you the best way possible. Unlike God, I can't be
there all the time...but I'll try! And for
those times when I can't, you'll be in my prayers.
- Thanks so very, very much for the sharing! May God bless you and keep
- Pastor Fischer
Index Articles 1-49
Articles 50-99 Articles
100-149 Articles 150-199
200-249 Articles 250-299
Articles 300-349 Articles
Copyright © 1997-2004 Ministry
Health, LLC All Rights Reserved.
FrontPage and Microsoft Internet Explorer are registered trademarks of
Adobe Acrobat and PDF are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems
Hosted and Developed by SAMSA
was revised on:
Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:04:20 PM