Month: May 2009

Goodbyes and Hellos – Final (I promise)

Just joining me? If you hate joining in the middle, I encourage you to read the first two installments:
(read Part 1)
(read Part 2)

Before I continue with the final installment of my story, I’d like to point out two things:

  1. I am not bashing the SBC…I was saved in an SBC church and I know many fine folks who attend SBC churches. Not all SBC churches are the same, however.
  2. Along the same vein, keep in mind that not all IFB churches are the same, either. There seems to be a stigma attached if you are “fundamental” in your beliefs – it means you’re really “old-fashioned” and don’t listen to the most current “worship” music and wear long skirts and your hair in a bun. Don’t believe everything you read or hear about the IFB, either.

If you have been a reader of my blog for ANY length of time (today marks my 3 year blogiversary), you know that I try to look on the bright side of things…keeping a positive perspective on life has always been part of my makeup. My mama used to tell me that ‘if you can’t look on the bright side, then at least polish the dull side’, hence my tag line. I doubt seriously that she made it up, but it has been a phrase that I have repeated to my own children when times get tough.

Our move to our new church was most definitely orchestrated by God. We may not always understand the “why’s” or the timing of things, but thankfully, that’s not our job. Our job is to step out in faith and put our trust in Him and believe that He’s really working all things together for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.

So I mentioned that we would soon discover why we were called to this church in my last post, and the few of you that read (and yay! there’s more than two!) have been so patient, today I’ll tell you why and what has happened. I’ll try to keep it to the Reader’s Digest condensed version, although I don’t make any promises.

Two months after we joined our new SBC church, a dam broke. I don’t know how long it had been cracked, but apparently, someone had been holding their finger in the crack for a while and evidently became too tired to hold it back any longer and let go. There was a skerfuffle within the Deacon’s meeting wherein our Asst Pastor (who was over the youth) resigned, along with his wife (who was our choir director and pianist). They didn’t want it this way, but it’s how it turned out. I’ll not go into details, because the details of this aren’t important.

What is important is that when our Asst Pastor left, there was an amazing amount of confusion and hurt, and a good amount of anger and frustration that had been churning in the waters that also spilled forth when the dam broke. There was another Deacon’s meeting…and eight Deacons resigned their posts because of the situation.

Now, with those eight Deacons, came eight families. Young families. Families with children that were faithful to the church and worked in the church weekly. Teens, juniors and elementary…you name it. Our church lost Awana workers, children’s church workers, teen workers, an entire Sunday School class was obliterated, several more Sunday School classes lost teachers…all in all, it was a big old ugly mess. I was having a hard time looking on the bright side, to be honest.

For the first time, I began to realize that we weren’t here for the long haul. God had moved us specifically to help the church in any way we could through this tough transition. From music to children’s ministries, we served in any capacity we could. I became the new Awana commander and my husband became the new Youth leader. We were so grateful for the “core” of folks that remained faithful to their duties in the church and were so supportive of us as we took on new responsibilities.

How did I know we weren’t there for the long haul, you might ask? I can’t describe it. I just knew. God had orchestrated our move and timed things perfectly so we’d be in the right place at the right time…and just as we’d felt the gentle “nudge” to move there originally, as the Awana year was wrapping up, we felt the “not-so-gentle” nudge that we were to head back to our old church.

Let me explain. Many church pastors today “teach” instead of “preach” from the pulpit. Nothing wrong with teaching…in fact, I LOVE teaching. But in addition to teaching, you have to have honest-to-goodness-old-fashioned-hellfire-and-brimstone preaching to go alongside the teaching. No sense in teaching a bunch of lost folks if they never receive Jesus, is there? You can’t preach “feel-good” messages all the time, or folks won’t understand their need for salvation and a Savior. I mean…personally, I think Joel Osteen is making the world a better place to go to hell from. You think that’s ugly? Well, yes. I suppose it is. But I don’t agree with his doctrine and it’s my blog and I have the right to say that. 🙂

My husband is a wise and discerning man. He preaches with conviction, and might even raise his voice a time or two. Many of the folks from our SBC church told us that they had heard a lot of teaching from behind their pulpit, but that after hearing my husband, it was the first time they had been “preached to” in many, many years. They loved it. They wanted more of it…we wanted to give them more of it. But it wasn’t happening.

For whatever reason, the door to preaching at our church, as well as any of the other SBC churches my husband had submitted his resume to, was closed. There were no offers. The only offers to preach we were receiving were back in the IFB — and they were weary of the fact that we were serving in an SBC church. So we had a choice to make. The answer was obvious, but it didn’t make it any easier.

I still don’t understand why so many churches today won’t hold up the Bible as the infallible Word of God. There are people all over our nation that are HUNGRY for what God has to say, but have no one willing to stand up and say the hard things. We want to sugar-coat the truth and make God’s Word easier to swallow so people will keep “paying their tithes” and we can keep the church doors open. Our experiences at the SBC church opened our eyes to what is happening all across America…not just in the SBC, but in every denomination.

I’ve never been a pastor’s wife…I don’t know the day to day pressures that a pastor faces, but I know they must be great. I appreciate men who are willing to stand up and preach the Word of God from the pulpit with conviction and are still seeing souls saved for Jesus. I applaud the men of faith who believe that you don’t have to have a congregation of thousands to be “successful”.

So we’re heading back to our old church this weekend. Excited, renewed, filled with hope.

Jeremiah 6:16: “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. “

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Goodbyes and Hellos Part Two of Who Knows How Many

So yesterday, I posed the question “Why in the world did we feel the need to leave our Independent Baptist church 9 months ago and move to a Southern Baptist Church?”

I think the two of us have pondered that question more than once over the last 9-1/2 months, which, incidentally, is the gestation period for a human mama when she is pregnant (more on that later).

My husband is a preacher. Not a pastor, but a preacher. What is the difference? A church home in which to pastor, I suppose. While we were content where we were at, we felt the not-so-gentle pulling in a new and different direction for God. We were in a state of contented “discontent” and felt the Lord leading us to find a new church in which to serve. There isn’t one particular incident that stands out in my mind where we said, “Oh…that’s it. The final straw. We’re leaving.” We told no one that we were “looking”, as is often the case. We just began to look for another place to serve. It felt really weird.

It was a little like having an affair, to be honest. I felt like we were “cheating” on our current church when there was nothing really all that horribly wrong…yet here we were searching for another church because we felt that was what we were supposed to do. Can anyone else identify with this? Why did we feel so guilty about doign something we felt God was leading us to do? We finally settled on an SBC church that was mostly full of older people (probably 75%) and had a few young families, as well as an Awana program and youth activities.

So…my husband and I interviewed the prospective Pastor to see if he believed what we did and all seemed to be in order – we felt this was really where God was leading us…felt really good about it. We decided to join the church, but before we could do that, we needed to tell our current Pastor what was going on. And so we went back to our IFB church and told our pastor we were leaving.

He was shocked to say the least, because we had given absolutely no warning…we weren’t missing excessive amounts of church, we were still tithing and being faithful to our church duties, so he asked if it was anything he had done. To which we had to reply “No, Pastor. It’s not you…it’s us.” Sounds like a really terrible break up line, doesn’t it? Honestly…it felt cheesy and we felt terrible for not giving him more information. But how do you tell your IFB Pastor you’re leaving him for a more liberal SBC Pastor?

So…we left the following week for our new church. We were put to work immediately in Awana, Choir, as Children’s Church workers — our eldest daughter was asked to be in the children’s choir and my husband was doing supply preaching for the Pastor in his absence. Our kids were caught up in the Awana program and for the first time, experienced what it was like to have structured Church-sponsored game time with Bible lessons and handbook time. They loved it – made new friends and were excited about the possibility of what was to come. We were just as busy in our new church as we had been in our old church.

But things were about to change, and we would soon discover why were were “called” there by the Lord…(to be continued…)

**Read the Final Installment Here**

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Goodbyes and Hellos Part One of Three

Yesterday was supposed to be the last day at our Southern Baptist church…I say “supposed to be” because things didn’t go as planned and we weren’t able to tell folks it was our last day, because our pastor asked us to wait. How can you just leave without saying goodbye? In my mind, you can’t…so we’ll be going back Wednesday to say our final goodbyes before moving back to our Independent Baptist circle.

These SBC folks have been so kind to us over the last 9 months, but it’s time to birth this baby we’ve been carrying. It’s a proverbial baby…a joke between my husband and I…but a baby nonetheless. Before I confuse you…a little backstory might be in order.

My husband and I are Independent Fundamental Baptists. I don’t think I’ve ever come out and just said that on my blog, but since only two people read it now, I figured it was as good a time as any.

What is an IFB, you ask? That’s almost post all in itself…and I’ve posted what we believe here, if you are inclined to investigate.

Basically, the name Independent Fundamental Baptist Church is used traditionally by churches which pattern themselves strictly after the example of the early church, as found in the New Testament. Today the name Baptist is used by many churches that are not following the teachings of the New Testament.

Thus the words “Independent” and “Fundamental” have been added by many Baptist churches to further identify themselves as true Bible believing churches and to show a distinction between themselves and Baptist churches that were not following God’s word.

Most Baptist churches were in the past founded on the sound doctrinal teachings of the New Testament; however, many of them have in varying degrees drifted away from many of the teachings of the Scriptures. Some of these churches have gone so far to even deny the fundamental teachings of the Bible, such as the deity of Christ, the virgin birth and salvation by the Grace of God, through faith.

Others have to a lesser degree compromised the Word of God by their teaching, practices and church polity trying to conform to popular religious trends. These worldly churches still call themselves “Baptists,” but in fact they do not believe or practice what true Baptists have historically believed and more importantly what the Word of God says. The true Independent Fundamental Baptists have no association or fellowship with these churches because they teach or practice things contrary to the New Testament.

So that’s the history of who we are and what we believe.

But why in the world did we feel the need to leave our Independent Baptist church 9 months ago and move to a Southern Baptist Church? You’ll have to check back tomorrow to find out…

Part Two
Part Three

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Through The Looking Glass

I have always loved the writings of Lewis Carroll. His “Alice in Wonderland” series was one of my favorites as a child and I was especially fond of the book, “Through the Looking Glass”. I imagine it was because at some time or another, we all speculate what life must be like on the “other side”, whether it be the looking glass, the fence, the computer, or this life.

Recently, I have had a look at what life on the other side of “healthy” and “young” is like and aging gracefully is something that I’m starting to believe only happens in Hollywood movies. Maybe it’s true that life begins at fifty, but everything else seems to wear out, fall out or spread out. Taking care of aging parents is demanding, draining and if you’re not careful, it can be downright depressing. I have always known the day would come when I would be responsible for taking care of my parents, but as with everything else in life, the day has come before I feel ready. Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to man, I suppose.

This journey I am on with my 76 year-old mother and my soon-to-be 89 year-old stepdad is not exactly “Hazel and Fred’s Excellent Adventure”. I am having to broach the HARD topics…like wills, nursing homes and Depends undergarments. Thankfully, no one is biting my head off, but it’s probably because they know I could hide their teeth. We’re all muddling along as best as we can through this process…and it is a process like no other.

I’m doing well if I can get my stepdad to eat anything besides ice cream and if I can get my mom to eat anything besides Dollar General brand vanilla sugar wafers. What I want to know is why weren’t these things on the menu when I was a kid? I was always being told to eat my vegetables. My mom was so concerned about “roughage” and making sure I got enough of it so my “plumbing” would work properly. Now life has come full circle and it is me who is bribing her with cookies just so she will drink her daily glass of Metamucil. I want to make sure her “plumbing” doesn’t require any additional assistance from me.

My stepdad, who bathes only when forced to, thinks it’s a blast to walk around the house buck naked in the mornings. There’s nothing else I can say about that.

Apparently, their investments in health insurance are starting to pay off. They have had more dates with their physicians than my husband and I had before we got married. Every week, we are off to see another wizard. Someone who runs tests, orders labs, and asks questions only to come up with the same answer, “You’re old. This is what happens when people get old.”

Some days I wish I could put the looking glass down and just listen to Jabberwocky.

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(originally posted 4/29/08)