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Thursday, May 21, 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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7 comments:

Dana~Are We There Yet? said...

I want to leave a comment because this series has been such an encouragement, but I'm having a hard time putting my thoughts into words. Just know I was here, and I was blessed.

Lisa B @ simply His said...

I'm with you 110%. I wish I lived near you so we could be under your husband's preaching. It has been super hard for us to leave our home church -- the one we were saved in, the one we served in for many years. But the pastor that came there and I were not reading the same Bible. We couldn't stay under his teachings at all.

Now we've been brought to a church that has a Bible-teaching-preaching pastor :) It has been refreshing to visit there and we're just now starting to get involved (guess who's taking over the church website?) :)

Hang in there girl! God's got big plans for ya'll and it sounds like you're on the right track. I'm still confused about this part 1 of 2 trilogy -- you need some help with numbering? :D

Headless Mom said...

First of all, Happy 3rd bloggaversary! That is a huge accomplishment!

Second, "Joel Osteen is making the world a better place to go to hell from." I about spit my coffee out. I'd never thought about it that way but many of the "new" spiritual leaders out there are that way; that is how they get so popular. Happy, God-is-good messages without the rest is just false teaching. I'm reminded of Revelation 3:16- "So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (NKJV) This is my own personal fear message. I want to burn for Christ.

I wholly agree with you that this "is happening all across America," a big church, one that doesn't teach the fullness of the Bible, isn't really a church of the real, true God after all.

I pray that this move is great for you. I love that you listen to God and go where he sends you. You will be blessed for your obedience.

A side note, I'd love to hear one of your husband's sermons. Do you have one on podcast or something that I might be able to listen to?

SixInThe
Northwest
said...

Your family should be proud that it remained committed to what you believe in. We attend a church where there is still "preaching" vs "teaching" and appreciate that even more after reading your post. Your comments about sugar coating God's word couldn't be truer. You're listening to His voice and it will take you where you need to be. Blessings!

Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

I have to say, Karen, that your experience in an SBC church in Texas is why we never, ever found an SBC church that we were completely at home in while we lived there. Moving back to OK allowed us to return to the SBC we grew up in and we love so much. NOT TO SAY there aren't problems because we are all imperfect and there will always be "issues," but oh my gosh - we had no idea how much we missed the SBC of our youth.

I happen to agree with you about Mr. Olsteen. I can hardly listen to a few minutes . . . it just makes me sad to know of all of his faithful devotees who are missing out on so much TRUTH.

I am so very excited for you the changes God has been orchestrating and bringing about in your life. Glory to God! I am proud of you and your family for being instruments of His will in the midst of a tumultuous church situation.

At our home church here in OK, we are supremely blessed to be under a pastor who delivers fiercely truthful preaching each Sunday morning and offers the loving sheperding of teaching each Sunday evening. We love our local church body so much. Our souls that we parched for seven long years in Texas are being so fully quenched.

May God continue to pour out blessing on you, your husband, and your children as you faithfully pursue His heart and His will.

Thanks for taking the time to share all of this.

Best Life said...

I am so glad you took the time to write this very long post and let us know more details.

I do wonder, did you ever share with the people of the SBC you went to that you believed it was for a short time? Just wondering. I guess I feel bad for them in a way because they would have grown so attached to you since you were there during such a hard time. They would have felt very bonded with you.

I also agree with you about preaching. What we find missing though, even more than preaching the truth, is living it. How can a pastor really know what to preach if they don't know their flock? They don't get to know the people that sit in their seats every week listening to them. There is a sad lack of really being in each other's lives, really knowing one another so that we can be accountable to each other.

OK, that's my say. Great post! Keep 'em comin'. Lisa~

Jenny86753oh9 said...

Oh, ok...I get the preggo concept connected to your story.

I'm so glad you guys are so in tuned to God's call in your lives. What a HUGE blessing!

I'm still looking for my "home" church....

(Happy Blogiversary!!!)