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Please share some insight...

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by BroOldTimer, Dec 24, 2022.

  1. BroOldTimer

    BroOldTimer Member

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    Good evening, it has been a few years since I posted on this forum. Since then, I have had multiple changes in my personal life and in my theology. A little background first: I was raised a Free Will Baptist and continue in essentially a FWB church. Five years ago, I announced my call to ministry and have essentially served as a functionally-equivalent bi-vocational assistant pastor. I teach the Wednesday Night Bible Study, and fill in from time to time. As a side note, I am unmarried and relatively young (26).

    I come from what I would term as "gracious fundamentalists" and truly appreciate the foundation that was laid for me in this church. They have loved me and supported me through my childhood and early adulthood. However, two years ago, I began to privately break away from the less Biblical aspects of this tradition. It started with leaving KJVO in my private study. I began to read the NASB and I really studied (more than ever). That year, I read the NT three or four times, wisdom three times, and the OT through once. In the beginning of my third read through, The Lord opened my eyes to the reality of "Sovereign Election" which is the antithesis of what I have been raised in. Once I saw it, I could not unsee it. Then, from there, the particularities of Calvinistic Baptists settled in on me. I started listening to more expository preaching from men like John MacArthur. My personal reading was more influenced by this vein of thinking. So, I have become a closeted Calvinist at the old camp meeting so to speak.

    Last year, I decided it was time to move. I needed to change jobs and move a few hours away for a few different reasons. One reason being that I needed to seek membership in a church that aligned with what I now believed. I applied for a really good job and was one of the few applicants interviewed, but did not get selected. I was devastated. I had anchored my entire future on that transition. I was foolish. So, I did not move and continued in the same job that I have now and have continued in the same church to this date.

    Amidst the last year of this, I have felt spiritually drained. I did not make it easier on myself. I failed in commitment to my personal devotions. They were either superficial or non-existent. I allowed sin in my life, and made some serious mistakes publicly and privately. The worst of which I did privately confess to my pastor who was very gracious toward me. But for the past several months, I have felt hollowed out. My career is very demanding and is not compatible with even bi-vocational ministry. It has been a source of some of the trouble I think over the past few years. However, I feel as if I have came to a crossroads between ruin and renewal.

    This realization came while working through my church’s annual Christmas Program. My character was an angel sent to a family who lost their vision and joy in Christ. In reality, I was the family. I had lost my vision and joy in Christ. I had been a bastard son to the Lord. The program convicted me, as my character led the family back to Christ the Lord, the Lord led me back to Him. I was hesitant to do the program because I have been so consumed with work. In all truth, I needed this more than I ever began to know when it started. It is possible that the Lord used this moment to change my trajectory in life.

    In the week following the play, I witnessed firsthand the need for a well-equipped, holy, and godly minister of the Gospel as I helped minister in the community. As we went Christmas Caroling, I saw the truth of sin played out in human life. We visited those who had everything, but were poor beyond measure. We visited those who had nothing, and were not any poorer than those who had it all. We visited those who were above reproach and lived life out faithfully. I visited a man consumed with the grief of losing his wife that he and his home were in great disarray. He had turned to alcohol to numb his pain. I visited the nursing home where the absolute cost of sin is so noticeable. It was a week that convicted me to the core of my being that demonstrated to me that I have not lived in the path of my calling. I have lived out what was more convenient and popular instead of what I knew to be true.

    A line in the Christmas Program, as my character ministered to the family without vision and joy, was to “be faithful in the gifts and callings that Christ has given you”. More than any other line, this tore into my heart. For I know, that I do possess gifts that come from the Lord Himself, and not my own ability. The Lord has blessed me as a leader and to be a person of vision. The Lord has blessed me with a mind to understand and to think and ponder. I can speak and write with clarity and eloquence. I am able to teach and to teach others. I have demonstrated that wonderfully in my career, but in this calling of ministry, I have simply failed. It occurred to me, that it is not that I do not use my gifts, but that I have applied them in the wrong ways. Not that the ways that I applied them were inherently bad, but that they were not used in the venue that the Lord had intended. I have seen it and now I can’t “unsee” it.

    Now, on Christmas Eve, I set pondering what the next step of my life will be. I am awake spiritually in a way that I have not felt in a long time. I feel like the past few years are simply a result of my stubborn disobedience. I am aware that I have grievously failed in multiple ways. I am convinced of a few things:

    1. I cannot continue to serve a church if my personal conduct does not match the standard of scripture. Nor can I for much longer, serve a church that I no longer align with. I love them, but I am unfaithful to Christ, myself, and them in this manner.

    2. I cannot expect to faithfully serve in the manner that God had called me to do and work the job that I currently do. It requires too much of me, and I feel like I am inadequate at both if I try to do them both.

    I welcome all commentary on this matter. I would really appreciate some advice and wise counsel. Here are some questions that I am currently entertaining:

    1. Have I disqualified myself permanently from pastoral ministry?

    2. If not, how should I move forward? I would want to further my theological education. I come from the folks who do not think it is necessary, but I know that it would definitely be helpful.

    3. Regardless, how do I graciously leave a church that I love, but can no longer align with?

    Thank you, and Merry Christmas.
     
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  2. Marooncat79

    Marooncat79 Well-Known Member
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    We all fail God greatly. Even as believers which is why we need a Savior see the “Lords Prayer” in Matthew “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”, and again in I John “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourself, and the truth is not in us”

    the Christian life is a life wrapped up in repentance.

    there is mercy, hope, and forgiveness in Christ!

    trust Him!!

    and see what happens
     
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  3. xlsdraw

    xlsdraw Active Member

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    Looks to me like you can't see the forest for the trees.

    All your trouble seems to have started when you switched Bibles.

    IMO, one of the greatest traps in this age, is the Calvinist/Theologian path. Human ego tends to turn called servants into Theologians.
     
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  4. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
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    A church will never find a perfect pastor, while you may strive towards that goal, the achievement is beyond your grasp.
    What the church wants is someone that can lead them through real life issues.
    The struggles you experience can be used in your ministry to teach others. Don’t ask God to remove them, pray that God will lead you through them.

    Labels like Calvinistic / Arminian and so many other ism’s are confining. Don’t put yourself in their box. Question the Scriptures. Work out what they say to you. You will find a middle ground incorporating the best of each theological method.

    Rob
     
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  5. BroOldTimer

    BroOldTimer Member

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    All I can say is that I resisted this to the utmost since I was in college. I fought against this system of theology as much as I could. I read multiple defenses of Arminianism, and came to the conclusion that you cannot eliminate "God's Gracious Choice" or "predestination" from the pages of scripture. It is everywhere. I tried to convince myself in scripture of the false narrative of Calvinism and Sovereign Election. Election to salvation is not conditional or based on foreknowledge. It is God's choice.

    I would say the "trouble" did begin when I moved away from King James Only. For the record, I am not opposed to the King James Version. I have several and use them regularly. However, I think it is foolish to insist that a translation made in 1611 is the only translation acceptable to use. I will admit that there are several today that are not faithful or as precise as they ought to be, but modern literal translations like the NASB, LSB, or ESV serve the church well. I have probably learned more and understood more in the last two years than in the previous 10 combined.

    I also see the error and temptation to become an arrogant intellectual. But I equally see the error of continuing down a path of instruction and doctrine that is shallow and based on feeling rather than the text of scripture. Pastors and teachers must have some theological foundation to be faithful servants.
     
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  6. Marooncat79

    Marooncat79 Well-Known Member
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    Trust me, at one time I was very anti-C, but scripture convinced me otherwise
     
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  7. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    Scripture, the more I have studied the issues, I cannot be a Calvinist.
    I believe in a total depravity.
    I believe in the election.
    I believe the redemption secures salvation.
    I believe once one truly understands God's grace, one cannot not love it.
    I know God does the saving and keeping.
     
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  8. BroOldTimer

    BroOldTimer Member

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    If you believe these aspects, then how do you articulate your beliefs?
     
  9. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    Biblically.
    An example, a total depravity. It's cause, see Genesis 3:7 and Genesis 3:22. What it causes, Romans 3:11.

    Is there a specific you have in mind?
     
    #9 37818, Dec 29, 2022
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2022
  10. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate Well-Known Member
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    First of all, brother, thank you for sharing your situation so honestly. It takes courage to do that. I was in a somewhat similar situation 20 years ago, so maybe I can shed some light.
    I wonder if any of us would be serving if we applied that standard vigorously. The very fact that you are conscious of your shortcomings is a sign of the Spirit's work within you )James 3:2a).
    I fear you may have to leave. It is unrealistic to expect the whole church to change position because you have. Is there a church near you that is nearer to your new-found convictions? Ask for a month's sabbatical and go and check it out. If it's OK, then be honest with your present church, tell them how much you love them - too much to deceive them over your beliefs.
    Step down from church service for a while and see what openings God makes for you. I had reluctantly to accept that I could not enter full-time ministry because I needed to work flat-out to pay off ebts and look after my family. It is only since I have retired from secular work that I have been able to do more at my church.
    No. If Peter was not disqualified for denying our Lord 3 times, you are certainly not.
    Find a part-time course that you can do, perhaps over the internet.
     
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  11. BroOldTimer

    BroOldTimer Member

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    How do you view the doctrine of election?
     
  12. BroOldTimer

    BroOldTimer Member

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    Thank you for your insight. It is much appreciated.
     
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  13. 37818

    37818 Well-Known Member

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    One's election follows one's calling. Matthew 22:14, ". . . For many are called, but few are chosen. . . ." Aka elect.
    2 Peter 1:10, ". . . brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: . . ."
    Now based on Mark 13:20, ". . . the elect's . . . , whom he hath chosen, . . ."
    Now that choosing is referred to in Ephesians 1:4, ". . . he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, . . . " In 1 Peter 1:2 it is explained, ". . . Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, . . ."

    One's election in not merited.
     
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  14. JonC

    JonC Moderator
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    I would prayerfully consider staying with your church.

    We live in a time when truth is considered subjective, equal to one's understanding of truth (e.g., "live your truth"). Unfortunately this has crept into churches.

    We are united in Truth by the gospel of Jesus Christ, not our understanding of that gospel.

    When I was saved I was not a Calvinist. For years I was a Calvinist. Now I have grown to view Calvinism as an error. But all through this I was united to other Christians through Christ. I was no less a Child of God initially as a Calvinist or now as a non-Calvinist.

    My point is we grow in Christ. As we study our understanding changes because we are growing. Don't choose one understand as the criteria to choose your church family. Be where God has led you to be. Yesterday you were not a Calvinist, today you are, but tomorrow you may have moved to a deeper understanding. Don't let your understanding be the criteria for abandoning a family you have grown to love.
     
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  15. AustinC

    AustinC Well-Known Member

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    Brother, I was born and raised in the IFCA. It took 40 years before my reading of scripture showed to inconsistencies and contradictions in the "free-will" theology I had been taught. As I kept reading scripture I had to put aside those doctrines that were not taught in God's word and accept what God teaches. (There are people here who want to imagine that the doctrine of grace is a made up philosophy of Calvin rather than an observation that Calvin made, like you and I have made, from scripture.) God is a Covenant making and fulfilling God. He is Supreme and Sovereign over every molecule. Not one molecule is rogue and undirected by God. There is no reason to apologize or feel guilty for holding to this truth. This truth should be taught to your congregation as they need to see thhis truth and hear this truth. Keeping them living in a doctrine that is man-centered is the worst thing you can do. Staying silent on the doctrine of grace is the worst thing you can do.
    I assume the church is congregational. If your congregation will not abide by a God-centered theology and moves to remove you, then you know that God is moving you elsewhere. If they receive the truth of scripture and grow in grace with your teaching, then God is moving them to glory in God's Supremacy. Understand that what God is doing is not about you. What God is doing is about God's name being glorified.
    *Daniel 9:17-19*
    Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.

    May God give you great courage to preach the truth of God's grace, even if the congregation will not listen. Remember that Israel often hardened its heart to the prophets God sent them.
     
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